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Joan

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Girl. Warrior. Heretic. Saint? A stunning secular reimagining of the epic life of Joan of Arc, in the bold tradition of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall 1412. France is mired in a losing war against England. Its people are starving. Its king is in hiding. From this chaos emerges a teenage girl who will turn the tide of battle and lead the French to victory, an unlikely hero whose Girl. Warrior. Heretic. Saint? A stunning secular reimagining of the epic life of Joan of Arc, in the bold tradition of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall 1412. France is mired in a losing war against England. Its people are starving. Its king is in hiding. From this chaos emerges a teenage girl who will turn the tide of battle and lead the French to victory, an unlikely hero whose name will echo across the centuries. In Katherine J. Chen's hands, the myth and legend of Joan of Arc is transformed into a flesh-and-blood young woman: reckless, steel-willed, and brilliant. This deeply researched novel is a sweeping narrative of her life, from a childhood steeped in both joy and violence to her meteoric rise to fame at the head of the French army, where she navigates both the perils of the battlefield and the equally treacherous politics of the royal court. Many are threatened by a woman who leads, and Joan draws wrath and suspicion from all corners, even as her first taste of fame and glory leave her vulnerable to her own powerful ambition. With unforgettably vivid characters, transporting settings, and action-packed storytelling, Joan is a thrilling epic, a triumph of historical fiction, as well as a feminist celebration of one remarkable—and remarkably real—woman who left an indelible mark on history.


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Girl. Warrior. Heretic. Saint? A stunning secular reimagining of the epic life of Joan of Arc, in the bold tradition of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall 1412. France is mired in a losing war against England. Its people are starving. Its king is in hiding. From this chaos emerges a teenage girl who will turn the tide of battle and lead the French to victory, an unlikely hero whose Girl. Warrior. Heretic. Saint? A stunning secular reimagining of the epic life of Joan of Arc, in the bold tradition of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall 1412. France is mired in a losing war against England. Its people are starving. Its king is in hiding. From this chaos emerges a teenage girl who will turn the tide of battle and lead the French to victory, an unlikely hero whose name will echo across the centuries. In Katherine J. Chen's hands, the myth and legend of Joan of Arc is transformed into a flesh-and-blood young woman: reckless, steel-willed, and brilliant. This deeply researched novel is a sweeping narrative of her life, from a childhood steeped in both joy and violence to her meteoric rise to fame at the head of the French army, where she navigates both the perils of the battlefield and the equally treacherous politics of the royal court. Many are threatened by a woman who leads, and Joan draws wrath and suspicion from all corners, even as her first taste of fame and glory leave her vulnerable to her own powerful ambition. With unforgettably vivid characters, transporting settings, and action-packed storytelling, Joan is a thrilling epic, a triumph of historical fiction, as well as a feminist celebration of one remarkable—and remarkably real—woman who left an indelible mark on history.

30 review for Joan

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beata

    Ms Chen's vision of Joan is my vision: a girl who through her abusive childhood and tragedy becomes strong and determined to expel the enemy from her land. By poor chance Joan gets close to the Daulphin at the time when he is uncertain of the role he is expected to play and who takes advantage of Joan's will and power. Joan becomes the victim of politics and her naivety and experinces the rejection without understanding it. Ms Chen dismisses all religious implifications Joan was given in the late Ms Chen's vision of Joan is my vision: a girl who through her abusive childhood and tragedy becomes strong and determined to expel the enemy from her land. By poor chance Joan gets close to the Daulphin at the time when he is uncertain of the role he is expected to play and who takes advantage of Joan's will and power. Joan becomes the victim of politics and her naivety and experinces the rejection without understanding it. Ms Chen dismisses all religious implifications Joan was given in the later years and centuries and I agree with her. Joan was made saint after five hundred years but in my opinion she was a young woman who knew how to serve France and liberate it. Unfortunately, she became a victim of the policy which she was unable to grasp or accept. OverDrive, thank you!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    I enjoyed reading this fresh new historical fictionalized biography of Joan of Arc and rate it 4 solid stars. This book opens with Joan's life as a ten year old, living in the village of Domremy in 1422. The first quarter of the book re-imagines Joan's life as teenager. She is frequently beaten by her father, who is disappointed in her as a daughter. However, she grows into a strong woman, and 1 day he realizes that she is stronger than him. He orders her to leave. Before she leaves, the English I enjoyed reading this fresh new historical fictionalized biography of Joan of Arc and rate it 4 solid stars. This book opens with Joan's life as a ten year old, living in the village of Domremy in 1422. The first quarter of the book re-imagines Joan's life as teenager. She is frequently beaten by her father, who is disappointed in her as a daughter. However, she grows into a strong woman, and 1 day he realizes that she is stronger than him. He orders her to leave. Before she leaves, the English attack her village and her beautiful sister Catherine is savagely raped. Catherine eventually commits suicide. At this point, Joan vows revenge upon the English She makes her way to a nearby lord's castle and finds work in the kitchen there. She learns how to shoot arrows. Her strength and abilities reach the ears of the Dauphin, uncrowned king of France. He sends for her. She tells him that she can fight for him. This she does do, leading his armies in a string of victories, starting with the taking of Orleans from the English. This book concentrates on the secular side of Joan. She was not made a saint until 500 years after her death. One quote for cat lovers: "The cat gives her a slow feline blink; its gray-green eyes look watery, or maybe that's just a trick of the light. But she would rather believe that animals, too, are capable of grief, of memory and therefore of remembering better days. Thanks to Emani Glee at Penguin Random House for sending me this eARC through NetGalley. #Joan #NetGalley

  3. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    France, 1422. The story begins with Joan at age ten, who takes part in a mock battle. She has three older brothers and one sister who is considered beauty. Joan is more of a boy-looking and boy-acting, what we would today call a tomboy. They grow up with an abusive father, leaving Joan in bruises many times. At thirteen, she starts having visions, but this book takes a different approach Joan without those visions, being religious on her own terms. This reimagining certainly brings a fresh approa France, 1422. The story begins with Joan at age ten, who takes part in a mock battle. She has three older brothers and one sister who is considered beauty. Joan is more of a boy-looking and boy-acting, what we would today call a tomboy. They grow up with an abusive father, leaving Joan in bruises many times. At thirteen, she starts having visions, but this book takes a different approach Joan without those visions, being religious on her own terms. This reimagining certainly brings a fresh approach in presenting this heroine. The writing is vivid with descriptive scenes, which in turn make the plot slowly moving. A lot of people appreciate this style of writing and if you know the story of Joan and would like to read more of a reimagining, rather than retelling, then this might be a good selection. The writing is certainly beautiful, at times lyrical. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    “Once you lift a sword, it is hard to put down again.” I’ve been curious about Joan of Arc for a long time. I love military history, and as a feminist, I also love that Joan was responsible for leading French victories centuries before women were permitted to serve in the military of any major power. When I saw that Katherine J. Chen had written a “secular reimagining of the epic life of Joan of Arc…a feminist celebration of one remarkable—and remarkably real—woman who left an indelible mark on “Once you lift a sword, it is hard to put down again.” I’ve been curious about Joan of Arc for a long time. I love military history, and as a feminist, I also love that Joan was responsible for leading French victories centuries before women were permitted to serve in the military of any major power. When I saw that Katherine J. Chen had written a “secular reimagining of the epic life of Joan of Arc…a feminist celebration of one remarkable—and remarkably real—woman who left an indelible mark on history,” I was all in. My thanks go to Net Galley and Random House for the invitation to read and review. This book is for sale now. In her end notes, Chen tells us that Joan’s biographers tend to leave out her difficult home life, with a violent, angry father that hates Joan from the moment she draws breath; he has wagered heavily on her being male, and she’s failed him. Chen sees it as a major factor in Joan’s development as a warrior. When Joan leaves home, after her beloved uncle leaves and her elder sister, her one true friend within the family, commits suicide after she is raped by English soldiers, she expects to labor for her bread, which is nothing new to her. But ultimately, she wants to get word to the Dauphin, the heir to the throne, who is in hiding: she knows how to win this war. I absolutely love the version of Joan that Chen develops, and my only frustration is in not knowing what aspects of Joan’s life she has had to invent, and which are historically accepted as truth. She tells us that Joan’s biographers would have her praying constantly, and that they depict Joan as little more than a totem that they carry to battle, a sort of human version of a lucky rabbit’s foot. And then I wonder even more: what facts are undisputed? Of course the Church would depict Joan as hugely religious, given that she has been beautified as a saint. Did she actually influence the battle plans? This part is frustrating to me. Had more information been provided, this would be a five star review. In any case, the battle scenes are riveting, and Joan’s character is unforgettable. I look forward to seeing what Chen writes next. Recommended to all that love the genre.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    absolutely incredible. RTC

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alyson Richman

    Meticulously crafted and richly imagined, Katherine Chen has created nothing short of a masterpiece with Joan. In her new novel, Chen has lifted the heavy armor off of this legendary female saint and warrior, showing us her heart and her humanity. Deeply inspiring and wholly original, this is a novel that inspires one's mind and awakens one soul. I loved every single page. Meticulously crafted and richly imagined, Katherine Chen has created nothing short of a masterpiece with Joan. In her new novel, Chen has lifted the heavy armor off of this legendary female saint and warrior, showing us her heart and her humanity. Deeply inspiring and wholly original, this is a novel that inspires one's mind and awakens one soul. I loved every single page.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Trudie

    I have a terrible history with beautiful cover designs providing a smokescreen for below-average historical fiction novels. A small selection: the come-hither gold foiled clouds of Washington Black, the delightful buttercup yellow endpapers of The Essex Serpent and now this bright and cheerful Joan concoction. The cover AND the NYT review seemed to promise me something fun and punchy. The queen of historical fiction herself - my idol - Hilary Mantel blurbed the cover "It is as if Chen has cre I have a terrible history with beautiful cover designs providing a smokescreen for below-average historical fiction novels. A small selection: the come-hither gold foiled clouds of Washington Black, the delightful buttercup yellow endpapers of The Essex Serpent and now this bright and cheerful Joan concoction. The cover AND the NYT review seemed to promise me something fun and punchy. The queen of historical fiction herself - my idol - Hilary Mantel blurbed the cover "It is as if Chen has crept inside a statue and breathed a soul into it, re-creating Joan of Arc as a woman for our time" hmmmmm.... I don't know if I want Joan as a woman of our time, a tale full of plucky self-determination and not a vision in sight. In truth, it is much less historical fiction than a story of a troubled teen that has some adventures with a bow and arrow in someplace vaguely medieval. Unfortunately, I can't avoid the notion that Mantel would have done real service to the story of Joan and crucially the historical milieu that produced her. The author shied away from almost all the significant historical events of Joan's life, including the significant battles and her trial and execution. That's like writing about the Titanic and stopping the story just as everyone sits down for dinner. So what are we left with? It's Joan fan-fiction, basically. Joan as a 6-year-old takes up blacksmithing, Joan hits the bull's eye with a long bow on her first try, invincible Joan with superhuman strength lifts her father off the ground, Joan learns to read and write effortlessly. * Sigh * I stayed only for the occasional mention of Lampreys and Pottage

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jen Burrows

    I picked up this novel fully expecting to love it - a historical novel about Joan of Arc, in the vein of Wolf Hall? Sounds like it was written for me. I was swept up by the fluid prose: while it's a little overly verbose at times, the narrative has an almost hynoptic quality which lends itself to the historical world of knights and battles. Chen writes with a real passion for her heroine, and Joan's childhood in Domrémy is vividly imagined. But as Chen explains in her afterword, this Joan is an in I picked up this novel fully expecting to love it - a historical novel about Joan of Arc, in the vein of Wolf Hall? Sounds like it was written for me. I was swept up by the fluid prose: while it's a little overly verbose at times, the narrative has an almost hynoptic quality which lends itself to the historical world of knights and battles. Chen writes with a real passion for her heroine, and Joan's childhood in Domrémy is vividly imagined. But as Chen explains in her afterword, this Joan is an intensely personal one, and sadly, I found I couldn't relate. I couldn't help but feel that something important was lost in the modernisation of Joan's character - losing her sense of religion not only fundamentally changes her story, but the cultural psyches of her time (and I always find it a bit reductive when a 'strong' female character is portrayed as tough warrior, however sarky she may be). This Joan is completely out of context in the medieval world, and I found it difficult to reconcile this historical dissonance. That said, while this wasn't the one for me, I can absolutely see why others loved this reimagining, and Joan is still a book I would recommend to others as a striking piece of historical fiction. *Thank you to Netgalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review*

  9. 4 out of 5

    The Girl with the Sagittarius Tattoo

    Joan of Arc is one of my all-time favorite historical figures. She captures my imagination as a commoner child inspired by saintly visitations to take up arms and lead the French army against the English during the Hundred Years War. She was later betrayed and burned at the stake. All her accomplishments were between the ages of 16-19, in a decidedly man's world. Katherine Chen's beautifully written Hist Fic version of the tale keeps her story secular, which disappointed me. Part of what I've alw Joan of Arc is one of my all-time favorite historical figures. She captures my imagination as a commoner child inspired by saintly visitations to take up arms and lead the French army against the English during the Hundred Years War. She was later betrayed and burned at the stake. All her accomplishments were between the ages of 16-19, in a decidedly man's world. Katherine Chen's beautifully written Hist Fic version of the tale keeps her story secular, which disappointed me. Part of what I've always found so fascinating was Joan's conviction that she was the instrument of God. Here, Joan is no more spiritual than anybody else. Her divinity is envisioned more as a product of the adoration of the masses than a holy glow from within. Another bit of a letdown was the complete lack of battle scenes. I was hoping for a Bernard Cornwell-style Siege of Orleans, rife with mud, blood and screaming horses. Instead, Chen glosses over them, transitioning directly from Joan's thoughts before the cavalry charge straight to the aftermath. *sigh* In spite of all that, I still enjoyed this read. Chen's Joan of Arc is an introspective but mighty giantess who learned to be tough at the fists of her father and learned loss from two life-altering events. The first was witnessing a 7yo boy from her village die after a children's fight, and the other was her beloved sister's suicide after English soldiers raped her and left her pregnant. It was Katherine's fate most of all that drove Joan to war. Although the tone of the novel was quite sober, I can't say there weren't moments that were beautiful and inspiring. I do recommend this book to Hist Fic fans; just don't be expecting much in the way of spirituality or battles.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Annie Garthwaite

    This novel is an electrifying creative leap – a re-imagining both vivid and convincing. For years the ‘idea’ of Joan has hovered in the back of my mind. Who was she? What compelled her? Just how did a peasant girl rise to lead an army? It always seemed to me an insoluble mystery, far beyond my talents to solve at least. But Katherine Chen has done it. She has created a character so complete, and described her career with such clarity and conviction, I found myself nodding at almost every junctur This novel is an electrifying creative leap – a re-imagining both vivid and convincing. For years the ‘idea’ of Joan has hovered in the back of my mind. Who was she? What compelled her? Just how did a peasant girl rise to lead an army? It always seemed to me an insoluble mystery, far beyond my talents to solve at least. But Katherine Chen has done it. She has created a character so complete, and described her career with such clarity and conviction, I found myself nodding at almost every juncture – ‘yes’. Most interesting to me is Joan’s complex relationship with her God which is, at the same time, both profoundly medieval and very modern. Like my own Cecily, Joan deals with God on her own terms. I love it! And part of what makes Joan compelling – and this is very redolent of Mantel’s Cromwell, I think – is her character flaw. Where does the tipping point lie between the self confidence that builds a career and the hubris that destroys it? And, of course, the writing is sublime. Full of glorious and resonant images. This book is beautiful – at sentence level and as a whole.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Young

    At a time when I feel so betrayed as a woman, a book comes along about a long forgotten martyred heroine, and that book breathes life into her fists and her spine and her voice, and it makes me see her, hear her, understand her, all while I realize I am seeing my own clenched fists, hearing my own raised voice, understanding the betrayals of my own time—the ill treatment of womankind for daring to step out and be brave and amazing and fearless and human. This book cleaved my heart in two, and I At a time when I feel so betrayed as a woman, a book comes along about a long forgotten martyred heroine, and that book breathes life into her fists and her spine and her voice, and it makes me see her, hear her, understand her, all while I realize I am seeing my own clenched fists, hearing my own raised voice, understanding the betrayals of my own time—the ill treatment of womankind for daring to step out and be brave and amazing and fearless and human. This book cleaved my heart in two, and I have to know more of its amazing author. Do not miss this. Forget the Joan in your mind, this gritty Joan arises from the muck of her village with life dished at her by such a time and place: young death, the fists of her father, a beloved sister and dog, women who pray, villagers who are kind, trees for climbing. This Joan is irreverent and human, fully able to see, to understand a battlefield. This Joan is scrappy, and, though used, wise enough to know that there is nothing—nothing—that matters other than the French must end this English war and their own civil war, end it and return to living. Nothing will stop her from this goal, not even death. Narration is sublime—this is the next book for lovers of Hamnet and Matrix.

  12. 5 out of 5

    alexa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. i could talk for paragraphs and paragraphs about joan of arc. her history, how i interpret it and what it means to me, and all the ways this book failed to meet my expectations. lol. but i’ll try to be brief. katherine chen and i are much the same in that we have intensely personal concepts of and relationships to joan. we overlap in some ways: i too believe joan’s visions are less important than her willpower, her charisma, her victories against all odds. i loved the idea that joan’s gifts were i could talk for paragraphs and paragraphs about joan of arc. her history, how i interpret it and what it means to me, and all the ways this book failed to meet my expectations. lol. but i’ll try to be brief. katherine chen and i are much the same in that we have intensely personal concepts of and relationships to joan. we overlap in some ways: i too believe joan’s visions are less important than her willpower, her charisma, her victories against all odds. i loved the idea that joan’s gifts were a kind of genius, much like the genius of a great artist or composer. faith is complicated for joan in this book, and she’s not a pure, virtuous virgin who miraculously and meekly cheers on armies. she’s a warrior, the best one alive, and she fights and bleeds and suffers. she’s proud, even arrogant; sarcastic and rude; yet also kind, selfless, and endlessly courageous. HOWEVER. i understand history doesn’t always make the best story, and i understand some choices chen made here to adapt a complicated history into a a compelling tale. but when politics, events, and even historical perspectives are ignored, it gets a little dicey. in this book, joan’s father is abusive. but why must she be abused to be strong of will and body? why must she be abused to be great? joan’s initial motivation is her sister catherine’s rape and subsequent suicide. hated that. it’s such an easy and predictable cop-out, honestly, and there’s no reason it had to happen. chen didn’t want to write angelic voices and visitations—but surely there’s a better motivation to give her, one more reflective of the incredible willpower and self-belief that joan possessed. additionally, her discovery and journey to court are portrayed as mostly an accident, nothing she sought or facilitated on her own but something she fell into. this i think ties in with the motivation above—it’s hard to write this event as joan’s doing when she doesn’t have voices in her head to guide her. and i’m not saying she did hear voices. i don’t know if she did, but if nothing else, she knew and believed in what she had to do. that’s what makes her story a great one, and taking that agency away from her was a mistake. another mistake was modernization. i hate the impulse of historical fiction writers to give their characters modern beliefs and perspectives. don’t be a coward. it’s okay to acknowledge that people 800 years ago viewed life differently than we do, and in fact i think it’s incredibly important and valuable to consider, explore, and portray those perspectives. then, the gravest error. the novel itself, and its execution, is lacking. it’s very unevenly paced, spending almost 100 pages on her childhood and about 20 on the siege of orléans. huge events are skipped over, even battles, which given the emphasis on joan’s military prowess is surprising. but then the book ends right as she’s captured. sure, it’s written well, if not overwritten a bit (side ramble, the writing is a bit too in love with itself, and it felt very much like chen was trying to imitate hilary mantel but without enough subtlety or skill; and why did every single character speak the same and monologue for two pages?). but why flinch away from the most pivotal moments of joan’s life? it felt almost like chen saw it as too much of a challenge, and it is, it would be impossible to do her trial, torture, and execution justice. but chen spent pages upon pages exploring joan as a character. why not let it pay off at her darkest hours? we even have the (flawed) transcripts from her trial!!! that willpower, that charisma, it stayed with her in a courtroom, in a cell. it stayed with her as she jumped from a window, as she recanted and then recanted her recantation, and as she died. it just seems a shame, a mistake, and ultimately a failure to avoid those scenes. to pretend some overwritten inner monologue compensates for it. it’s not that i’m bloodthirsty or morbid and i want to see her burn at the stake. if anything, that would be almost too excruciating to read. it’s just that if you’re going to write joan’s story, one with so much wonder and so much pain, you might as well do it justice. there were beautiful, poignant moments in this book that took my breath away. but another of joan’s great powers is that she means many things to many people. chen sees her story differently than i do; which just means i’ll have to try exploring it myself.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gareth Russell

    A bold, brilliant, and provocative re-imagining of one of history’s most famous warriors. It reads like a thriller, while remaining rich with detail about the traumas of the fifteenth century. (Based off an ARC sent by the publishers.)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Grigsby

    Another riveting novel about Joan of Arc!

  15. 5 out of 5

    OD1_404

    This is a great read! The story flows from the pages, often in quite a cinematic style. I could easily see a movie coming from this book. It is a reimagined version of Joan of Arc’s story. Indeed a full disclaimer is offered from Katherine J. Chen in the afterword, that she had to take many liberties with the historical facts of Joan’s story, and of the time in history, in order to present a relatable story to modern audiences. Chen does this successfully I feel, though I have to admit that her This is a great read! The story flows from the pages, often in quite a cinematic style. I could easily see a movie coming from this book. It is a reimagined version of Joan of Arc’s story. Indeed a full disclaimer is offered from Katherine J. Chen in the afterword, that she had to take many liberties with the historical facts of Joan’s story, and of the time in history, in order to present a relatable story to modern audiences. Chen does this successfully I feel, though I have to admit that her presentation of Joan did remind me a great deal of Brienne of Tarth! A happy coincidence?! The book is also written from a wonderfully feminist perspective, as it should be! I’d love to believe that 15th Century France had such a high-achieving feminist role model. However much liberty was taken with the actual historical facts, to my mind Chen’s reimagining of the facts, myths and legends surrounding Joan’s story is a worthy and entertaining version of events, even for scholars of Joan. Can I also just take a moment to mention the fabulous book jacket design by Holly Ovenden?!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Smith

    I do really love a good feminist retelling. I know that some people are hesitant when it comes to fictional retellings of the lives and doings of real people, but I’m not one of them. Particularly when it is someone as legendary as Joan of Arc, I was nothing but filled with anticipation for this novel and it more than lived up to my own personal expectations. ‘Head up. Shoulders back. Your heart may be breaking, but you don’t let it show, not on your face or in your eyes. You walk with a spring i I do really love a good feminist retelling. I know that some people are hesitant when it comes to fictional retellings of the lives and doings of real people, but I’m not one of them. Particularly when it is someone as legendary as Joan of Arc, I was nothing but filled with anticipation for this novel and it more than lived up to my own personal expectations. ‘Head up. Shoulders back. Your heart may be breaking, but you don’t let it show, not on your face or in your eyes. You walk with a spring in your step toward a destination yet unknown.’ There is so much research that has gone into this novel that is evident throughout the story. Not just on Joan herself, but also on the political, religious, and social history of the era. I felt immersed into both the period and the location, and subsequently, became highly invested in the story. It’s also written beautifully, told from Joan’s perspective, yet all encompassing. This retelling of Joan of Arc is how I’d like to think she actually was: a flesh and blood woman, courageous, driven by a multitude of motivations. Bravo, five stars for a brilliant read. I laughed, cried, and felt so much all the way through. Highly recommended. Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christine Cazeneuve

    As the author states in her notes, this is Joan of Arc reimagined. A wonderful historical fiction story about this remarkable young woman. This is the first historical fiction book I've read about Joan and I am not sure if there are others. This is a really good read with no dry places. It takes you from her childhood right up to the moment of her death. Was it her pride/ego that got the best of her or her true belief of her mission. You decide! Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publishers for As the author states in her notes, this is Joan of Arc reimagined. A wonderful historical fiction story about this remarkable young woman. This is the first historical fiction book I've read about Joan and I am not sure if there are others. This is a really good read with no dry places. It takes you from her childhood right up to the moment of her death. Was it her pride/ego that got the best of her or her true belief of her mission. You decide! Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publishers for an e-arc in exchange for my honest opinion.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jason Allison

    A propulsive and wildly engaging reimagining of the legend of Joan of Arc. Chen turns the martyred saint into an abused girl who becomes a war machine, driven to avenge her sister’s rape at the hands of English invaders and the killing of her dog by her father. It’s a medieval John Wick, and one of my favorite novels of 2022. An absolute burner, in the vein of Mantel (with more bloodshed), Cornwell (though more literary), and O’Brian ( with more action). I absolutely loved this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Brilliant. I LOVED it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jonann loves book talk❤♥️❤

    Katherine J Chen's upcoming book Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc is a reimagined retelling of the short life of Joan of Arc. In her writing Chen focuses on the human side of Joan, one of historys most spectacular female warriors. Before Joan of Arc became a ruthless leader in the French army she was a little girl with a difficult and heart wrenching childhood. In her remarkable life Joan displayed a unique combination of love and fierce determination. She was not afraid to take on her opponents on Katherine J Chen's upcoming book Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc is a reimagined retelling of the short life of Joan of Arc. In her writing Chen focuses on the human side of Joan, one of historys most spectacular female warriors. Before Joan of Arc became a ruthless leader in the French army she was a little girl with a difficult and heart wrenching childhood. In her remarkable life Joan displayed a unique combination of love and fierce determination. She was not afraid to take on her opponents on the battlefield or in political situations. Joan's feminist view made her the target of suspicion and hostile retribution. Joan of Arc left a powerful and unforgettable chronicle of bravery in history. Award winning author, Katherine J Chen is the recipient of the Florence Engel Randall Fiction Prize. Chen's attention to detail and research beautifully bring the characters to life in the book. Through Chen's writing the reader can experience Joan's struggles and emotions. Historical fiction lovers will enjoy this exciting action packed adventure. Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc is available July 5th. (4⭐⭐⭐⭐) Thank you, Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley, for the pleasure of reviewing this look back in time through Katherine J. Chen.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Oh gosh, where to start. This book is so well written, so well researched, it is reading and learning at the same time. On top of that Katherine J. Chen removed the Saint title and turned Jeanne d'Arc into a real woman. With all her flaws and positive points. Joan was a strong woman, illiterate but street smart. She had to fight her family, her father, men in general. She became famous, too famous and that became her downfall. A woman is not supposed to rescue a country. This book made me think Oh gosh, where to start. This book is so well written, so well researched, it is reading and learning at the same time. On top of that Katherine J. Chen removed the Saint title and turned Jeanne d'Arc into a real woman. With all her flaws and positive points. Joan was a strong woman, illiterate but street smart. She had to fight her family, her father, men in general. She became famous, too famous and that became her downfall. A woman is not supposed to rescue a country. This book made me think of Matrix by Lauren Groff. If you liked that one, you'll love this one too. It's a treat!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    4.5 stars Thank you, Hachette, for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for review. What an exceptional book! I’ve never known much about Joan of Arc. I don’t remember ever learning about her in school and she’s not someone I’ve sought out to learn about on my own, but when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. Chen’s prose is beautiful and entrancing. I felt swept up in Joan’s world, in the fields of her youth, the battles of her teens, all the way until the end. She’s someone you can’t h 4.5 stars Thank you, Hachette, for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for review. What an exceptional book! I’ve never known much about Joan of Arc. I don’t remember ever learning about her in school and she’s not someone I’ve sought out to learn about on my own, but when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. Chen’s prose is beautiful and entrancing. I felt swept up in Joan’s world, in the fields of her youth, the battles of her teens, all the way until the end. She’s someone you can’t help but root for, though she’s far from perfect, especially in the latter part of the book. I felt for her, especially when she made mistakes that cost her dearly. Joan is a hero, especially for women, and this book has planted her firmly in my heart. A must read for sure.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    It's been ages since I read some historical fiction and this book was brilliant and made me realise what I'm missing out on! A fictionalised retelling of Joan of Arc, I particularly enjoyed the first half telling the hard and brutal life Joan had as a child. It was unflinchingly raw and devastating, and shapes the Joan who we see in the second half - strong, independent, assertive and only 17 years old. The second half, whilst not as enjoyable, was more political and battle based, and had a real It's been ages since I read some historical fiction and this book was brilliant and made me realise what I'm missing out on! A fictionalised retelling of Joan of Arc, I particularly enjoyed the first half telling the hard and brutal life Joan had as a child. It was unflinchingly raw and devastating, and shapes the Joan who we see in the second half - strong, independent, assertive and only 17 years old. The second half, whilst not as enjoyable, was more political and battle based, and had a real focus on how Joan stood up for herself around all the high powered men of influence around her. I would highly recommend this. I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback. Thank you to Netgalley, Nosy Crow and the author

  24. 4 out of 5

    Helen - Great Reads & Tea Leaves

    "I, Joan, am coming for you." Joan of Arc, such a well-known historical figure, one could be forgiven for wondering what spin an author could bring to warrant yet another book. Upon reading the first few pages it becomes abundantly clear why. Katherine Chen has written a very special and unique interpretation of this famous historical figure. She makes it very clear that this is a retelling, a reimagining of this incredible woman from history and she does an amazing job in giving a more contempor "I, Joan, am coming for you." Joan of Arc, such a well-known historical figure, one could be forgiven for wondering what spin an author could bring to warrant yet another book. Upon reading the first few pages it becomes abundantly clear why. Katherine Chen has written a very special and unique interpretation of this famous historical figure. She makes it very clear that this is a retelling, a reimagining of this incredible woman from history and she does an amazing job in giving a more contemporary and feminist perspective. The author explores Joan from a completely different vantage point - her upbringing - with the greater part of the book being dedicated to this time. This makes for a highly engaging read as you are given an insight into Joan’s youthful feelings and the trauma she endured. This is not the religious and devout Joan of history books. This is very much a real person brought up in poverty and the impact of living with an abusive father. This is a girl who climbs trees, roams the village with her dog, loves her sister and both witnesses and experiences incredible trauma. This makes her determined to get out and do something … anything. Joan is a book that reimagines how her upbringing may have influenced her to become the teenage leader of the French army we are all familiar with. This is not a book about religious piety, in fact, it very much places under the microscope the life and culture of France at the time. Katherine has done an incredible job of melding both fact and fiction that it all rolls into one incredibly engaging tale. If historical fiction about real people from the past is something that interests you, be sure to pick this book up. You won’t be disappointed. “Perhaps we were both foolish to expect any other conclusion than this. You have been permitted to do so much. You were the exception to every rule. But how could you overturn a game that is as old as time itself? I think now you were always meant to fail." This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    “‘I believe God crafted the sound of a woman’s scream,’ she says, ‘to pierce the heart and test our humanity, whether we still have it or whether we have left it behind.’” ———————————- Joan of Arc is one of the great feminist icons and holy figures in all of humanity. Katherine Chen tells us her story as if she were Arya Stark growing into Brienne of Tarth and I'm here for it. As a young girl she faces many hardships, including a father that despises her because she is not a boy. She spends as muc “‘I believe God crafted the sound of a woman’s scream,’ she says, ‘to pierce the heart and test our humanity, whether we still have it or whether we have left it behind.’” ———————————- Joan of Arc is one of the great feminist icons and holy figures in all of humanity. Katherine Chen tells us her story as if she were Arya Stark growing into Brienne of Tarth and I'm here for it. As a young girl she faces many hardships, including a father that despises her because she is not a boy. She spends as much time as she can outside of the home making friends, learning trades and collecting useful items. After she witnesses the death of a neighborhood boy she begins to grow up before her time hardening herself for an even harder life ahead. Her wiles, her strengths and her pure heart bring her to the court of the Dauphin where she pledges her fealty and presses to become a knight. Although the story claims to be secular, the force of God propels her and the king forward in their decisions as they look for a way for the French to defeat the English. We hear as Joan really battles to become a woman outside her time, what she must sacrifice and how her legend grows. She was a very powerful political influence as well as a forceful soldier. There are several graphic battles described so fear not if historical fiction alone is not your thing, there is some serious action in this one. As with all stories of power, it’s a bit tough to watch the fall although we all know how this one ends in tragedy. Thanks to Netgalley for advanced access to this one. All opinions above are my own.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I was lucky enough to win an early copy of Joan: A Novel from Goodreads and I am so glad I did. Katherine Chen has done a wonderful job of imagining the life of Joan of Arc. The story begins with a riveting scene that immediately grabs you and lets you know you are in for an enthralling read. Chen's writing is very evocative to the point that I could easily picture everything very vividly in my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully rendered tale. The only thing that kept it from being a fi I was lucky enough to win an early copy of Joan: A Novel from Goodreads and I am so glad I did. Katherine Chen has done a wonderful job of imagining the life of Joan of Arc. The story begins with a riveting scene that immediately grabs you and lets you know you are in for an enthralling read. Chen's writing is very evocative to the point that I could easily picture everything very vividly in my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully rendered tale. The only thing that kept it from being a five-star read for me was that I greatly preferred the earlier sections of the story that dealt with Joan's childhood and family life and, in contrast, felt that the later sections felt a bit rushed and somewhat less humanizing.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    This is an imaginative story of Joan of Arc, an historical heroine who led the French army to battle in Orleans in 1429. Joan, a peasant girl suffered regular beatings at the hands of her father, Jacques D’arc while her mother Isabelle Romee neglected her. She has a sister Catherine who is described as beautiful as well as three brothers. After the death of her sister and departure of her beloved uncle, the only two people who cared about her, Joan leaves home. She meets Sir Robert de Baudricour This is an imaginative story of Joan of Arc, an historical heroine who led the French army to battle in Orleans in 1429. Joan, a peasant girl suffered regular beatings at the hands of her father, Jacques D’arc while her mother Isabelle Romee neglected her. She has a sister Catherine who is described as beautiful as well as three brothers. After the death of her sister and departure of her beloved uncle, the only two people who cared about her, Joan leaves home. She meets Sir Robert de Baudricourt, who witnesses her extraordinary strength and talents. Joan is then summoned by the exiled dauphin Charles who is desperate to save his country from England and the Burgundians, as well as take the crown. Joan’s interaction with the dauphin at court was so well written. I could sense his suspicions of Joan’s gifts, but also shows his vulnerabilities. At seventeen years old, she is eloquent in navigating her way through court as well as the army. She is an expert long bowman. Chen’s well researched novel is gorgeous and descriptive- delivering the human side to this legendary heroine- determined and strong. Her interpretation of Joan’s life, the battle and eventual death is imaginative and original, while staying true to historical facts. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for this ARC in exchange for my review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Joan of Arc? Sign me up. Solid 4.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    Outstanding novel reimagining the life of Joan of Arc not as a pastel-colored saint from a holy card but a living breathing angry soldier. So immersive. There were times when I had to stop and reread sentences just for their precise beauty. If you love well-written historical fiction, this is a must-read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ana Veciana-Suarez

    Amazing read. Gorgeous writing.

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