Reviews for Maid

Kirkus Reviews 2011 September #2
Cutter's first novel traces the improbable history of Joan of Arc in lurid detail.

At the age of 12, illiterate farm girl Jehanne has visions of three saints, Margaret, Catherine of Alexandria and Michael the Archangel. Arousing her father's ire when she refuses to marry, Jehanne flees her home village of Domrémy. The saintly voices have instructed her to lead an army to drive the English from French soil and crown the Dauphin Charles, putative heir to the throne, as King of France. She persuades a local nobleman to finance her journey to Chinon castle, where Charles currently cowers. The French court is bankrupt and, after decades of war, the English and their allies the Burgundians control half the country, including Paris. Jehanne's countrymen, whose homes, livelihood and food supply have been ravaged by the Goddons (the French rendering of a favorite English epithet), long for a hero, but a heroine will do. Jehanne convinces mealy-mouthed Charles to muster troops for her, and with an army of 10,000 (at its peak) she wrests Orléans and other key cities from the Goddons and keeps her promise to crown Charles in Reims Cathedral. Although the people revere her, certain courtiers resent her usurpation of male prerogatives. Charles backpedals when Jehanne wants to take Paris, and she is forced to attack with a reduced force, which leads to her capture, trial and execution at the stake. The novel covers familiar ground, but Cutter's protagonist is more than a tomboy saint. Jehanne's foolhardy bravery (she is wounded three times, and survives a 70-foot fall), her fervent, some would say fanatical piety (her armies must abstain from alcohol, sex and profanity during campaigns) and her struggle to reconcile her righteous bloodlust with her abhorrence of violence, bespeak multifaceted humanity. Cutter does not shrink from depicting the depravity of warriors on both sides. In a particularly wrenching scene, Jehanne must overlook atrocities committed by a baron whose allegiance she desperately needs.

Despite the Grand Guignol moments, a thoughtful retelling. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 August #1

Jehanne d'Arc, patron saint of France, is the central character in this historical novel about war, betrayal, and faith in God. Debut novelist Cutter depicts the heroine's life story from the first time the peasant girl hears voices from God until her death, motivated by jealousy and revenge. At the heart of the story is the girl's seemingly impossible mission and unwavering effort to lead thousands of men to liberate France from its English invaders. The power of faith triumphs as Jehanne and her army turn the tide in the Hundred Years' War. At times, the novel reads like a biography, and Cutter does adhere closely to fact, though she takes some creative liberties. VERDICT Historical fiction fans, particularly those interested in French history, will delight in Cutter's take on this legendary character. Readers of Christian fiction will also find it enticing. [See Prepub Alert, 4/18/11.]--Andrea Brooks, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 August #1

Cutter brings fresh insight to the story of Joan of Arc in this dynamic page-turner. After an unremarkable childhood as the youngest of five children in rural France, we see the extraordinary moment in her adolescence when she first hears heavenly voices. Three saints impart to Joan the sacred mission of both raising an army against England and crowning the dauphin king of France in Reims. Cutter builds a credible case for how a 15th-century peasant girl from Domrmy could embolden an army to reclaim their land from the English in the name of God. She ably describes Jehanne's transformation from an innocent, curious child into a confident, driven young woman who conquers souls, brings thousands to her support, and convinces a wary would-be king that she can make him realize his destiny--infusing all with a sense of the holy wonder that fueled Jehanne's mission. The exhilaration of her many triumphs on the battlefield, the bloody combat, the deadly jealousies and political machinations that begin her undoing, and her tragic end are portrayed with vivid imagination and brio. In this stunning debut, Cutter pays vibrant homage to this legendary woman. (Oct.)

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