Melissa Maerz
October 19, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Maid

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Kimberly Cutter
publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

Was Joan of Arc a messenger from God, a lunatic, or just a petulant kid? She’s a little of each in this beautifully written novel, which follows Jehanne from her girlhood to the Hundred Years’ War — during which, as a teenager, she insisted that God had commanded her to lead the French army — to her death at 19, burned at the stake in the Rouen marketplace. Cutter presents Jehanne as part mystic, but also part mascot used by France to rally support from the peasants. In The Maid‘s best scenes, she couldn’t be more human. She fights the urge to make out with soldiers; her moods swing from rapture to rage to ”loneliness. Other times joy. Wild soaring joy. Ten thousand birds singing inside her.” If that’s what it feels like to be a saint, it’s not that different from being 16. B

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