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Monday, April 01, 2013

The Maid and the Queen, by Nancy Goldstone (Review & Giveaway)

And with this review we will conclude our April Fools' Day Giveaway Event! I hope you've had fun!

Oh, what a fascinating read. I loved it from beginning to end.

I cracked open the covers of The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc knowing absolutely nothing about Joan of Arc. I am ashamed to say that when I was younger, I always thought she was a legend, not a real person. However, I guess, in a way, she is a legend and still captures the imagination of those of us in this modern age. (You might also say it's something of a surprise treat to learn that she is real!)

Joan was just a peasant girl from what is now Eastern France. An uneducated female, she began hearing voices which told her that she would save France from the English (who were engaged in the 100 Year War with France). How she gained an audience with the dauphin, Charles VII,  the rightful king of France, is something of a miracle. It is a mystery that Nancy Goldstone examines and unravels in her book The Maid and the Queen. Consulting numerous historians and hundres of historical documents, Goldstone links Joan to Yolanda, Queen of Sicily (mother-in-law to Charles VII), who was a powerful woman in her own right. Was Joan really a prophetess? Did she hear the voice of God? Or did Yolanda understand history, legend and politics well and was she astute enough to bring Joan out of oblivion and place her before Charles VII to save France?

This book is just simply fascinating. It is about Joan the Maid, yes, but it is also about Yolanda Queen of Sicily and the role she played sometimes behind the scene and sometimes in the spotlight. It's a tale of two women, one who was by all accounts quite brilliant and perceptive and the other one who believed herself to be called by God to save a nation. (And also, who I might add, might have been delusional.) The two combined rocked the world, in a manner of speaking.

Nancy Goldstone is a fantastic story teller. She lays out historical timelines, ancestry of kings, events and places in such a way that paint a landscape for you to place Joan into. Goldstone is not dryly reciting facts but bringing in all manner of interesting side plots and relationships to tell you why it is that Joan was so remarkable and what it is that she managed to accomplish. The Maid and the Queen truly reads like a novel rather than a history book and I eagerly kept turning pages waiting to see what would happen next.

It is clear from reading this book that Goldstone is a big fan of Joan of Arc and places her on a hero's pedestal. This does influence her writing and I could tell what her opinion was of any number of other historical figures based on her descriptions of them. While I am kind of bothered by that - (preferring a nice statement of facts rather than a biased telling) - I don't think her sharing her opinion necessarily distracted from the story of Joan. Goldstone uses plenty of documents and quotes and offers references for all of her facts which brought me comfort anytime that I was feeling nervous about her personal interpretation. Still, at the end of the book, I know no more what to make of Joan than I ever did. It's easy to see why some would call her a lunatic. It's also easy to see why she would be labeled a saint. Joan the Maid was a complex woman!

I can only highly recommend this book to you. Whether you are a fan of history or no, the story of Joan is simply incredible. There is none other like it!

Many, many thanks to Penguin Books for sending a copy of this my direction in exchange for my honest thoughts. Additional thanks to them for offering a giveaway copy for one of my readers here at Reading to Know!

Would you care to win this book? (Yes. Again, the answer is yes. Because I'm pretty sure this is going to be one of my top favorite reads of the year.) You know the drill by now! Simply leave a comment below including a valid e-mail address. This contest is open to US Residents only and will be open through Monday, April 8th.

As is the case with all of our April Fools' Day Giveaway Event contests, you can increase your changes of winning this title by Facebooking or Tweeting (@ReadingtoKnow) about this contest.






THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNER, as selected by Random.org, IS #6 - Queen of Carrots! Congrats!

29 comments:

Stephanie Shepherd said...

Yes!!! This looks so interesting. : )

Stephanie Shepherd said...

I facebooked it. :)

Sky said...

I want this one! If I don't win, I'll probably buy it.

Katie said...

Sounds awesome! I would love to win it!

schroederkatie[at]comcast.net

Shonya said...

Okay, I'm sold--sounds like a great read (both for me AND my kiddos!)
arklein29 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Queen of Carrots said...

We are studying Joan of Arc starting next month, so this sounds like it would be fun for me to read along with.

Alison said...

Ooooooo! I badly want this book!

Alison said...

Shared this on fb

Annette {This Simple Home} said...

:) Sounds awesome. Unfortunately, my library doesn't have it...so I hope to win!

thissimplemom at gmail dot com

Emmy D said...

Oohh, sounds interesting. Sign me up! :)
rophibianislands@gmail.com

Jennifer said...

This looks so interesting.

transformedgeneration[at]hotmail[dot]com

Shannon @ Some Fine Taters said...

Oh, yes! This is on my to read list!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I think I'd like to read this!

Jessica B. said...

Yes, please!
jesslburke@hotmail.com

Lorraine said...

I've always had a facination in Joan of Arc so yes this would be a great read for me.
lorrainey2004@yahoo.com

Annette {This Simple Home} said...

I just FB'd this book, too!
thissimplemom at gmail dot com

BerlinerinPoet said...

I do. I do want to win. And even if I don't I'm going to find this title for myself anyway.
heatherliz.carrillo@gmail.com

Diary of an Autodidact said...

Definitely one of the most fascinating of historical figures.

Her life does raise the question as to where vision and self confidence end and where delusion begins. Napoleon and others had the same issue, but it is particularly clear when it is a woman who does the impossible.

Annette {This Simple Home} said...

I tweeted, too.

Rainbow said...

Thank you! I always appreciate learning about highly recommended titles from your blog.

texasrainbow2006@yahoo.com

Cassandra said...

This sounds like an interesting read! I'm afraid I don't know much about Joan of Arc either...

The Giggling Gull said...

I'd love to win a copy of this book. Thanks for hosting this giveaway. marijotaverne @ clearwire . net

Suzanne said...

Wish we'd had this earlier this year when we learned about Joan of Arc in our homeschool. All of the books from the library seemed so dry. I'd love to win it!

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this story

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Heather VanTimmeren said...

I love historical fiction - please pick me!

histtheo1 at yahoo dot com

Theresa said...

Looks great to me, one I haven't read and your review makes it so very tempting!
thanks for the drawing.
Theresa

libby said...

this looks fun! shostagirl at gmail dot com

bekahcubed said...

I'm adding this one to my TBR list whether I win it or not. Unfortunately, my new local library doesn't have it--but there's always interlibrary loan, right?

b3master@menterz.com

Sarah P. said...

Sounds like a neat book.

Mattnsarah.pfeifer@gmail

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