Joan – A new historical fiction take on Joan of Arc
It is as if the author has crept inside a statue and breathed a soul into it, re-creating Joan of Arc as a woman for our time. She is a genius, but also a child, an icon, but also vulnerable and human. Chen’s novel brings home to us the strangeness of Joan’s story as well as its appeal, which is timeless, without borders, always fresh.
Girl. Warrior. Heretic. Saint?
France is mired in a losing war against England. Its people are starving. Its king is in hiding. Yet out of the chaos, an unlikely heroine emerges.
Reckless, steel-willed and brilliant, Joan has survived a childhood steeped in both joy and violence to claim an extraordinary – and fragile – position at the head of the French army. The battlefield and the royal court are full of dangers and Joan finds herself under suspicion from all sides – as well as under threat from her own ambition.
With unforgettably vivid characters and propulsive storytelling, Joan is a thrilling epic, a triumph of historical fiction, and a feminist celebration of one remarkable – and remarkably real – woman who left an indelible mark on history.Read more
Duffy’s Thoughts on Joan
I love good historical fiction. The reimagining of real people from hundreds of years ago, re-creating worlds that existed back in time is one of my favourite ways to while away hours within the pages of a book.
Chen has created, not a god-fearing, vision-seeing saint, all pretty and demure in flag-bearing armour. Here, in Joan Chen has created a fierce young woman who has to fight many battles of her own as a young child before she even thinks of becoming the hero and saint that France demanded.
Joan is a very detailed read, conjuring up vivid images of France and the key cast of characters surrounding this young woman who had a path set in front of her, seemingly before she was even born. The details required to re-create the past has not come at the cost of pace. A very engaging read and one of my favourite reads of the year!
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