The Handless Maiden by Loranne BrownThe Handless Maiden by Loranne Brown

The Handless Maiden

byLoranne Brown

Paperback | March 26, 1999

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about

Robbed of her career as a concert pianist due to a tragic childhood accident, Mariah Standhoffer is compelled to seek alternate means of artistic expression, eventually achieving renown as a composer. Mariah's shattered life turns on a series of complex relationships with others who have suffered damage in their lives — particularly Doug and Sully, challengers for her love. These vividly realized characters, like Mariah, learn to make opportunity out of accident and ultimately find dignity in compassion.Raw, often heart-wrenching, but also an exhilarating read, The Handless Maiden is an audacious and triumphant début.
Loranne Brown grew up in Thunder Bay, studied at the University of Toronto, and then moved to Bermuda where she lived for eleven years. She has won several honours for her short fiction. She and her family live near Vancouver.
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Title:The Handless MaidenFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:March 26, 1999Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385258542

ISBN - 13:9780385258548

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning I don't think I have ever read a book that has affected me quite as much as this novel did. I have read it three times and each time I feel as though it was the first. I identified with Mariah and her struggle through life.
Date published: 2005-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Amazing Novel Well, I paced the floor of my local Chapters bookstore for almost an hour and a half in search of the perfect book before locating the Handless Maiden. My grand search truly paid off because the book was absolutely amazing. Mariah is an emotionally vibrant main character who shares with the reader the story of her life. The characters appear so real that by the end of the novel you feel as though you've experienced their lives through their own eyes, thoughts, hearts, and, yes, souls. Its a deep, dark, and overall enlightening novel that moved me beyond words. Brown is a talented new novelist and I look forward to her future works (and future fame). Not only did I find the "perfect book" that day but also the "perfect storyteller". I congratulate Loranne Brown on an exquisite novel...a rare gem.
Date published: 2000-07-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from RickD This story is a well-written, enjoyable and deeply moving work. Just when you think the story is about to wrap up, just when you think you've discovered all you can about these people, something happens, and the people change. Just like life. If you enjoy Kate Atkinson and Barbara Kingsolver, I think you'll like this book.
Date published: 1999-09-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Change One Thing Change one thing. An intriguing game and life lesson we learn from Mariah, Loranne Brown's narrator in her first novel borrowed from a Grimm fairytale. The phrase is also one of the many thoughts that stay with you after finishing this book of life, love, hate, death, music, and motherhood. I encourage you to go on a journey with Mariah. Through the prolific words of Loranne Brown, Mariah takes us through a personal journey. And she does so in a way that you'll never forget. I especially recommend those of you in book clubs consider Loranne Brown's debut novel as a book you'll all read in the next few months. I have the good fortune to live down the "highway" from Ms. Brown so we were able to invite her to our club meeting last week. After discussing the novel over dinner, Ms. Brown joined us to answer some of the questions left after we had it all "figured out." She is a gracious, dedicated writer with a great sense of humour. Not always is the humour evident in her novel, but the dedication certainly is. It is also evident that she's done her research and that she's a superb story teller. I also recommend you try to read Grimms fairytale of the same name. It may help interpret the book in a different way. On behalf of my club, Lileth's Library, thank you Loranne Brown for a good read and a delightful discussion!
Date published: 1999-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! I recently finished reading "The Handless Maiden"; recently as in last night. I don't think a book has ever made me weep before. From the first few pages I was pinned in my place until the racking emotion of the story finally relented. I suppose, in all honesty, it has yet to do so. Never before has a story touched me so deeply, grabbing my heart and twisting it in this mix of pain and pleasure, joys and sorrows. I was weeping for poor young Mariah and hating her grandfather with a fierceness that was almost foreign to me. I fell in love with Sully and ached when he left; despised Doug and then forgave him. The characters were real to me, the pain of the moment real, just as real as Mariah's always short-lived happiness. In short, "The Handless Maiden" touched me profoundly. I can say without reservation that it was one of the best novels I have ever read, and certainly the most emotional. I await more publications with great anticipation and excitement.
Date published: 1999-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! I recently finished reading "The Handless Maiden"; recently as in last night. I don't think a book has ever made me weep before. From the first few pages I was pinned in my place until the racking emotion of the story finally relented. I suppose, in all honesty, it has yet to do so. Never before has a story touched me so deeply, grabbing my heart and twisting it in this mix of pain and pleasure, joys and sorrows. I was weeping for poor young Mariah and hating her grandfather with a fierceness that was almost foreign to me. I fell in love with Sully and ached when he left; despised Doug and then forgave him. The characters were real to me, the pain of the moment real, just as real as Mariah's always short-lived happiness. In short, "The Handless Maiden" touched me profoundly. I can say without reservation that it was one of the best novels I have ever read, and certainly the most emotional. I await more publications with great anticipation and excitement.
Date published: 1999-08-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The Handless Maiden Despite its nomination for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel award, this book does not measure up to other first novels such as Anne Michael's "Fugitive Pieces". Brown's book is simplistic, filled with the most glaring impossibilities and cliches, and is told by an alarmingly egocentric narrator. This reader had great difficulty caring for the characters or about what befalls them. There are many, many other Canadian writers who have far exceeded this first effort.
Date published: 1999-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Handless Maiden An insightful story of a woman whose hand was shot off in a struggle over a gun with her sexually abusive grandfather. Brown metaphorically weaves a complex tale of family dysfunction and personal trauma. Mariah's life experiences as a victim of abuse, while dealing with her handicap, take us on an emotional roller-coaster. Just when you think she could endure no more, fate deals her another blow. Although symbolic, the loss of her hand seems trivial compared to the traumatic events that follow.
Date published: 1999-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Handless Maiden This author's first novel has been nominated for some Canadian Awards (including the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award), and it's easy to see why. Brown has poured her heart onto the pages, describing the tormented life of a young woman who was sexually abused, and her subsequent withdrawal from normal life. Her struggle to survive and be released from the abuse is evident to the last pages. Many fiction and non-fiction titles have dealt with this particular theme, but none have so evoked the reader's compassion from the first paragraph. Highly recommended, but not as light reading.
Date published: 1999-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breathtaking Our book club chose this book as our most recent monthly selection; this novel was our fourth book (we are a fairly new group) and the only book that everyone (7) read to the end! It was a page turner, filled with colourful language, accurate descriptions and thought provoking characters. Just when you didn't think anything more could happen to the main character, Mariah, one more thing in her life changed forever. The discussion about the book and characters was stimulating, exciting, and without question, made us want more of this authour and more about the characters in this novel.
Date published: 1999-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book I found this novel very moving. The struggles and triumphs illustrated through the Mariah character were realistic, and easy to identify with. It was very easy to become involved in the life of Mariah, and look at the world through her eyes. The musical themes that ran throughout the novel were very compelling. I look forward to additional work from this author.
Date published: 1999-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Outstanding Debut Novel! Loranne Brown has blazed onto the Candian literary scene with an emotional saga that triumphs. Honest, blunt, sometimes stark, sometimes soft as silk, this book will be hard to put down once you start. The author quickly draws the reader into the life and tale of Mariah Standhoffer. The book is an expose of the inner world of a young girl as she comes-of-age and moves beyond the foundation of abuse and disappointment. Compelling, intriguing, and at times disturbing and heartbreaking, it's an excellent foray into the psyche of the wounded heart. The main character is flawed, real, intelligent, and ultimately peaceable with herself. Excellent, excellent, excellent. Can't recommend this one highly enough. Way to go, Loranne!
Date published: 1999-03-28

Bookclub Guide

Robbed of her career as a concert pianist due to a tragic childhood accident, Mariah Standhoffer is compelled to seek alternate means of artistic expression, eventually achieving renown as a composer. Mariah's shattered life turns on a series of complex relationships with others who have suffered damage in their lives — particularly Doug and Sully, challengers for her love. These vividly realized characters, like Mariah, learn to make opportunity out of accident and ultimately find dignity in compassion.Raw, often heart-wrenching, but also an exhilarating read, The Handless Maiden is an audacious and triumphant début.1. The Handless Maiden is titled after one of Grimms' fairy tales; familiarity with it is not essential to enjoy the novel, but the tale does form one level of sub-text. How do fairy tale elements resonate throughout the story? Compare the novel's characters to those in the tale.2. The first line of the novel is "Change one thing". How do the events, choices and actions of Mariah's life create a ripple effect?3. Doug says Mariah would have been "the same sort of pathologically introspective character" whether she'd been abused or not. Discuss the accuracy of that observation.4. Mariah experiences life through the filter of her emotions. For instance, she is very judgmental. Since the reader sees everything through Mariah's point of view, is she a reliable narrator? How does her tendency to see things and people in terms of absolutes colour the reader's impressions of the other characters? How does the first person narrative influence the style in terms of description, characterization, and exposition?5. Discuss the influence of music on the lives of the characters.6. The "Sleeping Giant" is a significant element of Mariah's childhood landscape. What role does this icon and its legend perform? How does the emotional effect of landscape shift during the novel?7. Ideas of perfection and normalcy are juxtaposed against obvious imperfections and disabilities. Discuss the damaged characters. Who among them is the most abnormal? The most whole?8. Discuss the process of Mariah's psychological journey to wholeness. What are the signposts along the way? If growth and maturity are left untested, is the process complete?

From Our Editors

Nominated for the 1999 Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award - Haunted by sexual abuse at the hands of her grandfather, Mariah finally confronts him with a gun. After a brief struggle, things go terribly wrong and Mariah shoots herself in the hand, ending her career as a pianist. The Handless Maiden explores the complex relationships Mariah has with others who have suffered damage in their lives. These vivid characters learn to make opportunity out of accident, and ultimately, to find dignity in compassion. Emotionally powerful, The Handless Maiden is a triumphant debut novel from Loranne Brown.

Editorial Reviews

"Brown is a consummate storyteller ... The Handless Maiden is a big, exuberant novel with a generous heart, which loves life and everything in it." —The Globe and Mail

"Compelling ... It may be the kind of novel that's been missing from the Canadian publishing scene." —Quill & Quire