The stunning feminist retelling of Joan of Arc
by Katherine J. Chen
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Pub Date 5 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 6 Jul 2022
A stunning feminist reimagining of the life of Joan of Arc - perfect for fans of Cecily, Ariadne and Matrix
'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' Hilary Mantel, twice Booker Prize-winning author of The Mirror & the Light
'A glorious, sweeping novel . . . Richly imagined, poignant and inspiring' Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne
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.
PRAISE FOR JOAN
'An electrifying creative leap - a re-imagining both vivid and compelling. A triumph!' Annie Garthwaite, author of Cecily
'Measured, austere, profoundly physical. I loved it' Jo Baker, author of Longbourn
'Riveting and beautiful. Chen has given us a new Joan for our times, who is tender, magnetic, and courageous. This is a haunting and deeply insightful novel' Rebecca Stott, Costa award-winning author of In the Days of Rain
'Pacy but lyrical, which takes great skill . . . Joan possesses a mystical, spiritual quality that gleams within the dirt and brutality of war, while her kindness and compassion shine through. I loved the writing, the imagery, the feeling of authenticity: this novel will stay with me for a long time' Elizabeth Chadwick, bestselling author
'This masterly and intense portrait creates a convincing three-dimensional character from the young peasant woman gifted with visions who, in her short life, followed her destiny to fight for the disputed French crown, even at the cost of her life. A highly immersive read' Anne O'Brien, bestselling author of The Royal Game
'A mighty novel, focussed and fierce; Chen's Joan is a marvel' Joanne Burn, author of The Hemlock Cure
'In Katherine J. Chen's capable hands, Joan becomes fully flesh and achingly real' Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Friends
'An epic novel with the mythic power of a fairytale' Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and The Exiles
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 48 members
Joan is a wonderfully imagined and beautifully written feminist reimagining of the story of Joan of Arc, and I couldn’t recommend it more.
The novel is immersive from the start, filled with vivid imagery and gorgeous prose (I had so many highlights which I will definitely be sharing once the book is out!). The novel is full of important discussion surrounding ideas of religion, gender, class and the impact of war, but still manages to be intensely readable, and for the most part enjoyable, though heavy. I loved Joan as a character, and was rooting for her from the very first chapter. I also loved so many of the side characters we met over the course of the novel – I won’t go into details, but I really appreciated the positive relationships Joan experienced. Chen's writing is extraordinarily evocative – despite having no experience of 15th century rural France, or 21st century rural France, for that matter – I had such strong mental images throughout the novel, and came to feel as though I really knew this once-unfamiliar setting.
I often find that I struggle to review the books I really enjoyed, and Joan is no exception. It's easy to write paragraphs about a book you didn't like, but when you loved it, all you really want to do is sit and read it again, or see others love it. It's harder to articulate. Overall, Joan was an excellent foray into French history, retelling a relatively familiar story through an interesting and important feminist lens, and so if you enjoy historical fiction, or feminist retellings like Circe or Ariadne, I highly recommend Joan.
*eARC given to me by Netgalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.*
Content warnings: death (including that of a family member), violence and gore, child abuse, abusive parent, animal death + torture, starvation, sexual assault, suicide.
What a glorious, sweeping novel . . . Richly imagined, WOW, WOW, WOW. I absolutely loved this book. It completely blew my mind and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since I finished reading it! I devoured this in one sitting… Magnificent.
I found this a fascinating book, not knowing much about Joan of Arc other than the obvious. I do love some historical fiction from the female perspective, and this ticked all the boxes for me. This re-imagining of the short life of Joan fleshed out her character and gave insights into French life in the early 1400s for both poor and rich. A good read.
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