Joan by Katherine J Chen
Girl. Warrior. Heretic. Saint? From the acclaimed author of Mary B comes a stunning, secular reimagining of the epic life of Joan of Arc.
1412. France is mired in a losing war against England. Its people are starving. Its king is in hiding. From this chaos emerges a teenage girl who will turn the tide of battle and lead the French to victory, becoming an unlikely hero whose name will echo across the centuries.
In Katherine J. Chen’s hands, the myth and legend of Joan of Arc is transformed into a flesh-and-blood young woman: reckless, steel-willed, and brilliant. This meticulously researched novel is a sweeping narrative of her life, from a childhood steeped in both joy and violence, to her meteoric rise to fame at the head of the French army, where she navigates the perils of the battlefield and the equally treacherous politics of the royal court. Many are threatened by a woman who leads, and Joan draws wrath and suspicion from all corners, while her first taste of fame and glory leaves her vulnerable to her own powerful ambition.
With unforgettably vivid characters, transporting settings, and action-packed storytelling, Joan is a thrilling epic, a triumph of historical fiction, as well as a feminist celebration of one remarkable—and remarkably real—woman who left an indelible mark on history.
Jacque de Arc did not like his daughter. She was tall and gangly and he thrashed her whenever he got the chance. As she grew older she became unmanageable and someone who gave as good as she got. The death of her brother and older sister sent her into a life of revenge against her father.
War in France is divided between many factions including the Burgundians, the Dauphine, John the Fearless, the English and others. Joan knows she is a child of God and attends mass two or three times a day. Her father has no use for her. The Dauphine who is the rightful heir to the throne is being hunted by his uncles and others aspiring to the throne and is in constant danger. France is fighting England as well as civil war throughout the kingdom. Charles the VII of France, the Dauphine and rightful heir to the throne of France, is protected by Joan.
The Dauphine seems unable to take care of himself and is not ready to take his throne. His uncles and relatives would like to eliminate him and rightfully become the king of France. Joan protects the Dauphine and leads armies into battle against the British and those who want to control the country. The king, under her protection, gains cities on his way to Paris. The population feels that Joan must be a witch or worse! Her victories are thought to be the work of the devil.
Charles becomes disillusioned with Joan and begins to fear his best ally. He puts her in prison after they captured Reims and are near the gates of Paris but wary of her becoming too powerful releases her again to man inadequate armies to continue regaining control of France (and to die in battle). The church also has trepidations regarding Joan’s success and begins to plan her overthrow and burn her at the stake.
Ms. Chen has written a very convincing tale of the plight of “The Maid of Orleans.” Anyone associated with King Charles and so many victories must be suspect! She is ultimately burned at the stake because of the suspicion of her being an instrument of the devil. France is free under Charles the VII but Joan is executed.
This is a well-written tale of the life and times of Joan of Arc. I strongly recommend it to history buffs and those who enjoy medieval novels. 4.5 stars
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars
Genre: Medieval Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Print Length: 353 pages
Publication Date: July 5, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc [Amazon]
The Author: No bio included on either Amazon or Goodreads.
©2022 CE Williams – V Williams