Women Writers Reading Challenge #45: Joan of Arc by Helen Castor


I do not advise trying to read this book early in the morning before you’re fully awake because if you’re anything like me (i.e. you don’t speak French) the sheer amount of French names/places in this book will make your head spin. However, once you’re fully awake, if you’re interested in the history of this very special person, this book is definitely worth the read. What Helen Castor’s amazingly well-researched novel does particularly well is put the events of Joan’s tumultuous life into context. She starts the book, not with Joan’s appearance at court, but 15 years earlier, and by doing so she tries to show how Joan as a phenomenon–her epic rise and fall–was not only possible but plausible. As Castor says, the really interesting thing about Joan of Arc is her broad appeal–everyone can find something that appeals in her story. Castor attempts to rescue the woman out of the legend and the result is a portrait of a strong-willed, determined, and powerful woman. A good choice for anyone interested in European history.

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