The Master and the Maid

1 star1 star1 star1 star Adult
Katarina is forced into the service of the rich patrician Sebald Tucher in order to pay off her debts. Once arriving in his country manor, the care of a mysterious newborn baby is thrust on her and she becomes involved in a violent religious clash between two families. More

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Published: Dec. 12, 2012
Words: 88,070
Language: English
ISBN: 9781301100842
About Laura Libricz

Writer, mother, factory worker, Laura Libricz loves to write. She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY in 1991 and moved to Germany, where she resides with her husband and two grown children. Her first historical novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven's Pond's Trilogy and is now available. The second book, The Soldier's Return, is scheduled to be released in October 2013.

Reviews

Review by: Jeffrey on Dec. 24, 2012 : star star star star
Katarina is sent away to work as a maid to pay off her fiancé's debt.

Thus we are thrust into the world of 1616 Germany and the trials that the oppressed are forced to face. Katarina must deal with her feelings toward Willi the man she lived with, the love that grows toward her master, Herr Tucher. But another love is thrown into her life, a baby, that an archer, Hans-Wolfgang, is protecting and makes Katarina swear to protect the infant.

The author has created a world in the country side during Medieval Times. The descriptions, use of the senses and elements makes us a part of that world.

A must read for those you like historical romances.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Jeffrey on Dec. 24, 2012 : star star star star
Katarina is sent away to work as a maid to pay off her fiancé's debt.

Thus we are thrust into the world of 1616 Germany and the trials that the oppressed are forced to face. Katarina must deal with her feelings toward Willi the man she lived with, the love that grows toward her master, Herr Tucher. But another love is thrown into her life, a baby, that an archer, Hans-Wolfgang, is protecting and makes Katarina swear to protect the infant.

The author has created a world in the country side during Medieval Times. The descriptions, use of the senses and elements makes us a part of that world.

A must read for those you like historical romances.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Marie-Anne Mancio on Dec. 23, 2012 : star star star star
I fell for this book. I haven't read much German literature from this period (seventeenth century Germany on the brink of the Thirty Years War) but 'The Master and the Maid' feels steeped in Northern European mythology and history. The writing was convincing, particularly the descriptions of the settings - I could visualise the farm and the buildings, the journeys. The majority of the time Libricz is careful to evoke a seventeenth century rather than a twenty-first century mindset so, for instance, the baby is not treated as sentimentally as it might have been by a contemporary character; the morality of adultery is not even addressed. Then there are lots of other little details that prove the author's done her research, details like the dress with the wooden buttons; the preparation of food, weapons and remedies; the histories of towns - all elegantly woven into the story. By the end, I really felt I'd learned a lot about this period.

I also like how the plot simmers for the first part. There is the ever-present threat of violence, the religious tensions that marked the age. A cat is no longer a pet; it has the potential to incriminate its owner of witchcraft. There is no romanticising of poverty or rural life. Yet Libricz gives us enough intrigue (a baby in danger; a no-good lover; machinations....) to keep you turning the pages.

This is mainly because the protagonists are engaging and three-dimensional: Herr Sebald Tucher, whom we slowly warm to; Katarina the maid who is made to return to her past home; and Pieter, the disturbed young poet with a penchant for older women. I also like how chapters occasionally alternate between points of view. The story kept me enthralled right till the end. Part Four mostly consists of an epic struggle; I wasn't sure if this was too complex but because Libricz avoids overly neat endings, it worked. I also like her unresolved elements, such as a woman in white. Apparition or reality? Reference to an old myth? And the very end - which in a way is an echo of the beginning - leaving Katarina a choice between what she is being told to do and what she wants to do.


My only reservation is I feel the novel would have benefited from one more edit just to sharpen it up in places, excise any anachronistic language (my obsession, I know, but I find words like 'scanned' distracting in a seventeenth century narrative). Also the use of similes could be improved - many of them were cliched or ordinary and not as strong as the straight descriptions or dialogue. But the whole is so engaging I still feel it deserves its four stars and I would definitely re-read this novel and more by this author.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Ella Dominguez on Dec. 22, 2012 : star star star star
Let me start by saying that this book is not my preference or my usual genre. I have never been fond of anything historic in nature regarding books and I think its been because of the language used in them. This book, however, was written in such a way that it never felt condescending to me, regarding the language. I often forgot that I was reading a historic book and was only reminded when a scene or setting was described, which I immenseley appreciated. This book is written beautifully, and I don't often, if ever, say that. It started a little slow for me, but it held my interest very shortly into the book. I know it's good story when I lay in bed wondering what will happen next to the main characters while I'm trying to fall asleep, and is a testament that this author has a gift for storytelling. All of that being said, I will look for more books by this author.

I vacillated on what rating to give this as this, 3 or 4 stars, so my official rating will be 3.5. Or 4. Or 3.5. You get the point. Its a good story and I would recommend it. :)
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Amelia Nolan on Dec. 20, 2012 : star star star star
This book was written with a real eye for detail. Little things, like how someone would have fixed a baby's bottle in 1616, were fascinating to me. The descriptions are vivid and excellent. I felt like I had a window into how a poor woman in Germany would have actually lived during that time period.

I would say the book is more literary - it reminds me of Thomas Hardy in a way, with its focus on realism and detail. The author really puts you into the grit and grime and daily existence of Katarina and the other characters.

There is a really nice, slowly developed romance, but there's much more going on. It's a book about relationships - between Katarina and the baby she is forced to care for, a former lover, the old woman who raised her, and more. There are action elements scattered throughout, too, with a majority coming in the final fourth of the book. There are a couple of love scenes, but they're tasteful, emotional, and serve the larger story.

My only caution is that the book is a bit slow in the first half - actually, the first 20-30 pages move along, then there's a period where plot takes a backseat to character development and a description of the characters' daily lives. But things pick up substantially around the halfway point. You kind of have to go with the book's rhythms - like I said, it's more of a literary read.

If you like historical novels and details that paint a portrait of what characters' lives were like in centuries past, I highly recommend this book.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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