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READING GROUP QUESTIONS

Feb 03, 2015

1. In what ways does Picaut embody the qualities of the Maid?

 

2. How does Picaut compare to other female detectives or police chiefs in recent books and media? How does the author encourage you to like her?

 

3. What is it about Tomas’s experiences at Jeanne’s side that cause him to change?

 

4. Tomas is a master of disguise, but his most powerful transformation is the one over which he has no control – the transformation of feeling. Do you agree?

 

5. We see the character of Jeanne through Tomas Rustbeard’s eyes. Why do you think the author chose to write in this way, rather than from Jeanne’s perspective?

 

6. Which of the main characters did you find most engaging – Tomas or Picaut?

 

7. By using the present tense for both the past and present threads, the author creates a sense of immediacy in both. Did you find both threads equally compelling?

 

8. In both the contemporary thread and the historical thread, powerful men manipulate others to achieve their own ends. Would you be more afraid of Landis or Bedford?

 

9. In what ways does fire act as a device that unifies the two timelines?

 

10. How does the walled city of Orleans symbolise the nature of our culture and its guardedness?

 

11. How has the author used Jaish al Islam  to symbolise our fear of the unknown and our projected fears of other cultures?

 

12. How does the author use the character character of Tomas to explore the issue of national identity?

 

13. Both Tomas and Patrice are adept at using the codes and cyphers of their time. In what ways did the book make you think about our society’s vulnerability to the cyber masters of our era?

 

14. How do you imagine the Maid is going to react when she wakes up and realises what’s happened?

 

15. Joan of Arc is a saint of the Catholic Church and an icon of the French Nation. Over the centuries she has been used by religious groups, by the suffragette movement, by factions in the French resistance and most recently by the French far right party. Around the world, she is seen as a symbol of sacrificial womanhood, of female military power, of perfect purity and transgressive cross-dressing…the list goes on.  What difference does this novel make to your view of Joan of Arc?

 

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