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Every era must retell and reimagine the Maid of Orleans' extraordinary story in its own way, and in Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured, the superb novelist and memoirist Kathryn Harrison gives us a Joan for our time - a shining exemplar of unshakable faith, extraordinary courage, and self-confidence during a brutally rigged ecclesiastical inquisition and in the face of her death by burning. Deftly weaving historical fact, myth, folklore, artistic representations, and centuries of scholarly and critical interpretation into a compelling narrative, she restores Joan of Arc to her rightful position as one of the greatest heroines in all of human history.
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By Troy on 12-23-14
Where Biography and Legend Collide
A straightforward biography of the life and times of Joan of Arc would be interesting enough for me. But 600 years after she was born, the story of the Maid of Orleans has been repeatedly built up and torn down by every perspective imaginable and used to attack or defend any position of thought. This book walks us through each stage of Joan's mission step-by-step. At each step, we're given Joan's situation, the events of history as it played out, the growth of the legend, and the various interpretations of all of it by scholars, psychologists, and Hollywood. At each step, the historical Joan is presented more and more remarkable as a direct result, proving that (yet again) fact is stranger than fiction. In short, much like Joan herself, this book has done the impossible.
I've mentioned in other reviews of other books about Joan that I share the same weird fascination with her as did Mark Twain. I'm not Christian, I'm not French, I'm not likely to be associated with either faction, and yet... the story of Joan is one that just sucks me right in, assuming it's given a proper presentation. This book does that and so much more. Kathryn Harrison has created in my eyes the best telling of this story since Twain himself.
As narrator, Cassandra Campbell is a great choice. She has a soft strength to her voice characteristic of the subject matter, and she has a command of the French language that's essential to the story.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By Jessie Webster on 11-30-17
Elegant and provocative
With comprehensive research and elegant prose, this story of Joan of Arc builds a portrait of a an astonishing woman of history. The author uses historical documents and embellishes the chronology of events with literary accounts of Joan’s story from Mark Twain, Leonard Cohen, George Bernard Shaw, and Shakespeare resulting in a poetic, authentic, riveting story. I love the depth and artistry of this book.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful