Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured by Kathryn Harrison

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 for the audiobook, 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.

5 stars


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