The Hundred Years War and the story of Joan of Arc are inextricably linked in the pages of history, and her story is well known. Born in Domrémy around 1412, she grew up as a simple peasant girl but at the age of 17 raised the siege of Orléans and had Charles VII crowned as king of France at Rheims Cathedral. Deeply religious, she maintained that she was an instrument of God and was guided by her ‘voices’ – those of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret. At 19, she was burned at the stake in Rouen for heresy and her ashes thrown into the river Seine to prevent anyone collecting them up and using them as relics. In 1455, Pope Callixtus III ordered a retrial, and she was found innocent of all charges and recognised as a martyr. She was canonised in 1929 and is the patron saint of France.
I found that this book followed her life very closely and more or less accurately described the events of those two years in particular. However, there were times when I thought the characters did not really come across as living people but simply as characters in a story, and I found it rather ponderous and wooden at times. I also doubt if, in the 15th century, whether or not her ‘voices’ were real, they would have addressed her as ‘darling’, but for anyone who wants to read the story of Joan of Arc, this is as good a version as any.