1428 France. This is the story of Joan of Arc. France and England are at war .At this period, France comprised a number of powerful duchies, nominally under the king of France, but, in practice, largely independent. Some, like Burgundy, have sided with England. Jehanne (Joan), the daughter of a peasant farmer, is called by God to save France. She must convince the Dauphin and the French nobility that she can both raise the siege of the strategic town of Orleans and crown the Dauphin king in Reims.
We see the story through the eyes of Mariane, Jehanne’s fictitious cousin, whose own story intertwines with Jehanne’s. Mariane saw English soldiers murder her mother and destroy her home, a terrible memory which has left her mute. But, later, she learns that her uncle and follower of the Duke of Burgundy, the brutal Sir Gaston, was also involved in her mother’s death. The family estate of La Paix was left to Mariane, and Sir Gaston suspects that Mariane’s father left her the family seal which proves her claim. Mariane’s mother refuses to tell him where it is –– and pays the price.
As Jehanne’s life pursues its extraordinary course, Mariane is by her side. Both girls can see that the French’s king’s indecision, the nobles’ political manoeuverings and the church’s distrust of Jehanne’s visions could lead to tragedy for Jehanne. Mariane must try and keep faith with her cousin and, at the same time, fight for her own inheritance against a merciless enemy.
Pauline Chandler not only makes you want to turn over the pages, she also illuminates the zeitgeist of the time and pulls you right into the turbulent world of the Hundred Years War. A terrific achievement. Highly recommended. 10 plus.