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The Maid by Kimberly Cutter

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Divia
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The Maid by Kimberly Cutter

Post by Divia » Wed August 24th, 2011, 8:16 pm

Almost everyone knows the story of Joan of Arc( Jehanne La Pucelle). The simple peasant girl from Domrémy who heard voices from her saints (Catherine, Margret and Michael) and was sent to save France from the English, because Charles VII couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag.

I've read numerous books on Joan, although fiction books seem to be far and few between. I think this is because Joan is a very complex person to write. She isn't very glamorous(she's a soldier living in dirt). And she's a virgin who loves God. So you don't get the titillating stories that you would with the Tudor court. Plus she hears voices, but if one doesn't believe in God then some people think she was crazy. Or there is the other theory that has been around in recent years that other people at court (Charles' mother in law)were pushing her to become the Maid.

I had a hard time warming up to Joan's character. At one point she tells the men they can't swear and then later in the book she is dropping the f word and swears on a few more occasions. I also didn't feel that she was committed to keeping her virginity. She was making eyes at a lot of men and touching a few too many cheeks. Her voices tell her she is going to die. Okay. But we don't get a sense of how Joan feels about this or why on earth would she still be committed to fighting? Joan knows that Charles will betray her, but she seems perfectly fine with it. Oh sure she is a little annoyed, but that's about it and we move on.

Apparently, Joan was a hot thing back in the day. Even though the author says she was a tomboy, and not a real beauty, she gets a lot of attention from the male soldiers. I think every one of them had the hots for Joan. And, I really didn't need the description of how the clothes felt against her um female parts. Another way to describe that would have been great.

The book is written in first and third person. It starts with Joan in prison and then flashes back to how she got there. I didn't like how the author moved back and forth from third to first person. I felt it was clumsy at times. The trial is glossed over, which I think is a huge disservice to Joan because she had a lot of amazing moments at her trial. The book is only 276 pages. A few more pages for the trial would have been nice.

The writing isn't bad. I think my problems with the book are what I mentioned above.

The author does take creative license, but its historical fiction, so its to be expected. I suppose I didn't mind it as much, but hardcore Joan fans may be throwing the book across the room. For example, Joan's father was described as an abusive man. And at times it feels like Catherine is the real saint of the family. She was so perfect.

At the end of the novel Ms. Cutter does discuss the issue of rape. Was Joan or wasn't she? That is the great debate.

Overall this is a decent read. The historical details are okay(do peasants wear pink dresses?) Joan's character was a little off for me. I didn't like that the trial was not given more time.

I think the average reader of historical fiction will find it a quick read but not something you can truly sink your teeth into. You don't walk away from this book feeling moved, or I didn't anyway. I wasn't sad at the end. Even though I know how it ends I usually am left feeling sorry for poor Joan. Not this time. I closed the book and thought hmm, I want an ice cream now. Strict Catholics won't enjoy how their saint is portrayed. I think there is too much sex, or implied sex in this novel for them(but I might be wrong).
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Post by Misfit » Wed August 24th, 2011, 8:50 pm

I couldn't agree more. I hadn't realized this was being offered up on Vine. It will be interesting to watch the reviews come in.

I thought I recalled the first and last parts being in present tense. Or have they changed it?
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Divia
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Post by Divia » Wed August 24th, 2011, 9:04 pm

Its weaved throughout the story, or it is now. :(

Yeah it will be interesting to see what other viners thought. I dunno, if my review was too harsh. But I expect a big punch when you are dealing with Joan. I mean you have to handle her right and you have to be committed to it or there is no reason in writing a book about her.
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Post by Misfit » Wed August 24th, 2011, 9:41 pm

I recall my biggest issue - no passion - and I don't mean sexual passion. Passion for God, passion for her cause, whatever.

Have you seen this comment on Amazon? She left me virtually the same on my blog review.
Timothy Frohlick says:


My name is Virginia Frohlick, I am the founder and director of the Saint Joan of
Arc Center here in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I have been studying the life and times of Saint Joan for more than 40 years. Over this period of time I have easily read 90 biographies and histories written by reputable historians and theologians.

Although Ms. Cutter's latest novel entitled, "THE MAID" is technically well written, from an historical point of view, the `Joan' she created NEVER EXISTED.
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Divia
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Post by Divia » Wed August 24th, 2011, 9:50 pm

I knew Virgina(well knew through the internet) years ago. She is very passionate , almost obsessive about Joan. Every year they go on a pilgrimage to Joan places. She also has a "center" for joan of arc.

She is Catholic and therefore she believes joan was ultra religious. I don't doubt that joan was religious. I also believe she had a wicked temper on her. However, Virginia doesnt like it when people say that joan was raped, or taht she was a sexual being or has sexual feelings. In her mind she was purer than pure.

I agree. No passion. She was just like oh here I am. I guess I will die. Oh well, these things do happen.

The clothing part really turned me off to the novel. I felt like some weird peep show. I dunno, it just didnt' sit well with me.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed August 24th, 2011, 10:15 pm

Just in case I was tempted--I have now been warned. Thanks!

Altho pink was a common enough color for clothing. Pink is faded red, after all, and frequently that was the best that the cheaper dyes could manage. Pink that had become dirt-brown was even more common.

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Post by Divia » Wed August 24th, 2011, 10:19 pm

[quote=""MLE""]Just in case I was tempted--I have now been warned. Thanks!

Altho pink was a common enough color for clothing. Pink is faded red, after all, and frequently that was the best that the cheaper dyes could manage. Pink that had become dirt-brown was even more common.[/quote]

Well, here's the thing. I ask cause the father was holding his daughter(it was such a Kodak moment) with her on his shoulders in her pink dress as they giggled and laughed together. :rolleyes: And I couldn't imagine a peasant girl in a pink...real pink dress.

And then I heard the breaks screeching in my head. I'm like pink? Like pink today pink? Like what was the author trying to do here?
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu August 25th, 2011, 4:40 am

In the day, the color would have been called pale rose. The word 'pink' back then meant to cut the edges of something (fabric, leather) into dags, zigzags, and fancy patterns. The German landschnects (foot soldiers) used to 'pink' their clothing with slashes and cutouts so the under-layer would show through.

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Post by fljustice » Thu August 25th, 2011, 3:43 pm

[quote=""MLE""]In the day, the color would have been called pale rose. The word 'pink' back then meant to cut the edges of something (fabric, leather) into dags, zigzags, and fancy patterns. The German landschnects (foot soldiers) used to 'pink' their clothing with slashes and cutouts so the under-layer would show through.[/quote]

So that's where "pinking shears" (scissors that cut fabric with a "toothed" pattern) got their name. I always wondered, but obviously not curious enough to look it up!
Faith L. Justice, Author Website
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Post by Divia » Thu August 25th, 2011, 4:07 pm

Oh. Hmm. Well that makes sense.

I'm still waiting for my review to hit amazon. *sigh* I dunno if it passes the current guidelines
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