Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

by David Elliott

Brief statements from Joan of Arc during her Trial of Condemnation, and from people... read more

Brief statements from Joan of Arc during her Trial of Condemnation, and from people who knew her and spoke at the Trial of Nullification 24 years after her death, are part of a compelling narrative that both recounts and imagines Joan’s final days, and revisits her exploits to vanquish the English claim on France early in the 15th century. Here Joan’s quest, guided by spiritual visions, is condemned by hatred. Those in power—especially from the Church—revile her for daring to dress and act like a man. A variety of poetic forms, including poems in verse structures that Joan of Arc might have heard during her lifetime, move back and forth among the voices of various individuals both real (e.g., Charles VII) and religious (Saint Michael); inanimate objects; animals; ideas (Victory); Joan herself as she awaits her death; and the Fire—waiting for her like an eager, dangerous would-be lover, a metaphor that plays out in a provocative and disturbing final poem that underscores the violence of misogyny. Joan approached her quest with confidence, and occasional uncertainty when her visions ceased; here she also is shown to feel a strong, steady sense of comfort, of coming home to herself, when presenting as a man, adding another fascinating dimension to this striking, discussible work of historical fiction that concludes with brief notes on poetic forms. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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