Joan, Joanna and Jenny, they just all happened to start with J

I have been reading a few biographies recently and purely by chance they have all started with the letter J.  Joan is the one I have decided on for today. It wasn’t actually a biography it was a historical fiction novel. This Joan is Joan of Arc and she is the main character in The Maid by Kimberly Cutter.  This is one for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

The-maidThis was a wonderful historical novel as Cutter has brought Joan of Arc to life.  Pleasingly the author has also kept true to the actual events so although it is fiction it is more like a biography. It is a realistic story about medieval times, particularly during warfare, and it starts with Joan (Jehanne) as a twelve year old peasant in Domremy. We are taken through her life through all the battles and up to her execution at age eighteen. Joan’s portrayal is realistic, not stylised as a saint but as an ordinary young woman. She was abused at home, has a fiery temper and at times she lusts after handsome young men.  Obviously she has difficulty reconciling her thoughts with the demands made of her by the voices she hears.  At times I got the impression that Joan was ready to give up but with the strength of her faith she kept going.

I loved this novel for the realistic portrayal of Joan but also because we had been to many of the places mentioned in the novel and so could picture it more vividly.  Joan of Arc is such a well-known figure in France and there are statues of her in many towns.

Joan of ArcThis particular statue is in Chinon.

The castle at Chinon

When we visited Chinon the exhibition within the castle paid considerable attention to the life of Joan of Arc as it was in Chinon where she met Charles VII to convince him he needed to travel to Reims to be crowned king.

Joan of Act platterThis beautiful platter was part of the exhibition. You can click on the photo to see it in more detail.

entry to the castle

This is the entry to the castle.

We also visited Loches which is mentioned in the novel.  It was here that Joan met with Charles after her victory at Orleans.


Kimberly Cutter gives a reading from her novel in this Youtube video.

This is a novel you must read if you are interested in the lives of famous women or are interested in French history.

There is a wonderful website here where you can find all you possibly want to know about Joan of Arc in all forms of communication.  Well worth a look.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. I confess I don’t know much about Joan of Arc (I didn’t realise she died quite so young) but this sounds like a great way of educating myself. I can imagine that the book must have really come alive for you after visiting all these places yourself. Nice little video with the author, too.

  2. I am going to try and get a copy of THE MAID from your recommendation! I do like a good historical read. I don’t know much about Joan, (like your other persons message) so it will give me a much needed history lesson! One of my favourite historical figures was Mary Queen of Scots, must say I love reading about strong females who make history. However, saying this I do enjoy reading about men who are infamous in what ever ways, heroes or villains!
    Keep busy! Jay

    1. suth2 says:

      When I was a teenager I read numerous books by Jean Plaidy and a couple of those were about Mary Queen of Scots. It is years since I have read historical fiction as my main genre is crime fiction but since doing this Historical Fiction Reading Challenge I find that I am really enjoying the historical novels. I will need to find some Jean Plaidy and read them again.

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