Friday, March 15, 2013

The Maid and the Queen by Nancy Goldstone

The untold story of the extraordinary queen who championed Joan of Arc.

Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin's cause against the forces of England and Burgundy, drawing on her savvy, her statecraft, and her intimate network of spies. But the enemy seemed invincible. Just as French hopes dimmed, an astonishingly courageous young woman named Joan of Arc arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom, claiming she carried a divine message-a message that would change the course of history and ultimately lead to the coronation of Charles VII and the triumph of France.

Now, on the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc, this fascinating book explores the relationship between these two remarkable women, and deepens our understanding of this dramatic period in history. How did an illiterate peasant girl gain access to the future king of France, earn his trust, and ultimately lead his forces into battle? Was it only the hand of God that moved Joan of Arc-or was it also Yolande of Aragon?

In the novel THE MAID AND THE QUEEN, author Nancy Goldstone proposes that Yolande of Aragon, Queen of Sicily, was a reckoning force behind Joan of Arc’s rise to power. It is an interesting premise and forms the basis of this novel about these two very remarkable women. The author has successfully blended their lives together, crossing paths amid the convoluted machinations of royal courts, political aspirations, and military secrets.


Yolande of Aragon


Joan of Arc

Could these two women truly have met and known each other? Of course. How else could a poor young woman from an obscure town in France gain the introductions necessary to reach the loftiest heights of royal power? The author does her research to make this a very compelling possibility.

Yolande of Aragon was the wife of Louis II, a member of the French royal family and King of Sicily. 


Louis II 

With her husband embroiled in fights in Italy for his claim to the kingdom of Naples and The Hundred Year War, Yolande sought to help her husband and France any way she could. Thus, she used Joan of Arc. The connection between the two women was through the town of Domr√©my in the duchy of Bar where Joan lived and Yolande’s mother who once held that duchy as her ancestral home.

THE MAID AND THE QUEEN is a story told in three parts. The first part tells the life of Yolande, the second part focuses on the life of Joan, and the final part concludes with the latter part of Joan’s and Yolande’s life.

The research is meticulous. The beauty and sadness of Joan’s story compliments the political events Yolande found herself embroiled in. There are plenty of gripping scenes and emotional passages. This is a fascinating novel about two powerful women, who were ahead of their time, struggling to survive in a world dominated by men. A very memorable read indeed.


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