Joan of Arc
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Joan of Arc (Penguin Lives)

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  263 ratings  ·  36 reviews
With the passion and grace that mark her bestselling novels of women and faith, Mary Gordon contemplates one of history's earliest and most powerful female martyrs

Eternally fascinating, an enigma no less in our time than in her own, Joan of Arc has haunted Gordon's consciousness since childhood. Who was this girl who came from nowhere, supported an equivocal cause, triumph...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 20th 2000 by Viking Adult (first published 2000)
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Joan of Arc by Mark TwainSaint Joan of Arc by Vita Sackville-WestJoan by Donald SpotoJoan of Arc by Marina WarnerJoan of Arc by Mary Gordon
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I mostly liked this book. I thought the author did a good job focusing on the interesting and unique anomalies of Joan's story (eg: her voices, church politics) without delving into boring specifics like the particulars of her war battles. I read another book on Joan of Arc and it was much more historical. This author broke the chapters down in a symbolic rather than historical way (while still telling a story). For example one chapter just focuses on Joan's "virgin" body. The only chapter I did...more
Carolina
Whether or not you believe her voices were real, it is an undeniable fact that Jeanne d'Arc, a.k.a. Joan of Arc in English, was a remarkable and incredible person who accomplished things that should have been impossible or, at the very least, highly improbable. Hardly anyone would expect much from a young and illiterate peasant girl, after all. Not then, and not now. Part of what makes her so incredible is the simple fact that she was real, she existed. She's not a figure or character born of my...more
Bap
Mary Gordon reviews the life of Joan of Arc in this short biography in the Penquin Lives series. Joan is a hard person to fully appreciate. She was an uneducated, illiterate peasant in a land gripped by civil war as the English and their Bergundian allies were on the verge of victory over Charles VII, a dauphin who aspired to the throne but had only a weak grasp of it and was widely viewed as an illegitimate son not entitled to be King.

Enter Joan who at age 14 had visions that she should remain...more
Megan
As good as biographies get, this one was pretty good. I personally am not a fan of spending precious time in my life reading about someone else's (not that I'm saying books like this are a waste of time, they're just not my favorite thing). And as for the story itself, no one can say it's not at least interesting.

Joan of Arc was born in a small village in France in 1412, during the climax of the Hundred Year's war. At 12 she started talking to the voices she heard, supposedly from saints, that c...more
Helene
This was a very quick read, short and packed. You get the historical setting of the time, the 100 Year War, the factions - more than just French versus English, the characters, and of course the Inquisition. You know it ends badly but it's fascinating to read how it all transpires. Though the transcript of the trail must be long and well, boring, this book still makes you want more and so there's the thought, we'll maybe I'd like to read the trail. She sounds pretty insolent. The gall (Gaul) of...more
Mary-Rose MacColl
Mary Gordon's little biography of Joan of Arc is an absolute treat. She tells us Joan defies categories and that her personal Joan is a young girl with “… a young girl’s heedlessness, sureness, readiness for utter self-surrender.” Gordon pursues Joan as this young girl which gives her work warmth and power and provides a context in which faith, courage, brashness, cross-dressing and virginity sit comfortably.

While Gordon believes Joan is much more interesting as herself than as the hero of our n...more
Kiran Poet
Short, bittersweet, to the point; Mary Gordon delivered. Joan of Arc received the honor she deserved. Nothing was lost and much insight was gained reading this gem of a book. If not for having loved Chapters 1-6 and 8, Chapter 7 would had been pointless.

Mary Gordon reviews The Messenger and Joan of Arc in Chapter 7. Milla Jovovich starred in The Messenger and Leelee Sobieski in Joan of Arc. Mary Gordon said of Sobieski, "...looks the part, although she delivers her lines with the flatness of a d...more
Marcelle
FROM THE INTRODUCTION: "If I could, I would begin this study in a way that would defy the limits of space and time. I call it a study, or a meditation, hesitating over the honorable term biography, with its promise of authority, of scholarship, of scope and sweep. Ideally, I would present you not with pages, but with an envelope of paper strips, each with some words written on it, and a series of snapshots. I would have you open the envelope, drop the strips and photographs onto the floor, then...more
Julia
I would have given the book a higher rating if it hadn't been for the last chapter. I had no desire to read about all the things ever created using Joan of Arc as the protagonist. Boring. Gordon went a long way in establishing the context surrounding Joan; how Joan fit into society and how that society was created the myth, legend and icon that is Joan of Arc. It very intriguing how an uneducated, religious peasant girl is able to lead the army of France into battle to allow the dauphin Charles...more
Donald Jodon
This is a good book, but ultimately it is not something spectacular. Mary Gordon does a good job of trying to relate Joan of Arc to a modern audience. But the biography is just too short to be considered anything but a topical look at the life of one of the Catholic Churches oddest saints. She did hear voices from God telling her what to do, but the book almost has you thinking "well, she was crazy, not religious". I don't think this is true, but the material presented is so brief that this imag...more
Claire Baxter
Good introduction however there was a lot of commentary about femininity and attitudes towards virginity rather than the story of her life. This was still interesting in itself however in such a brief book I thought it was a bit unbalanced
Juliet
This book was atypical of my reads, which might explain why I took a while to finish. It had some gems of insight into Joan's life - quotes about Joan that appealed to me. I appreciated the focus on her military experience rather than a drawn out narrative of her childhood.
Lennie
Close your eyes and try to think back to when you were nineteen years-old. What did you accomplish in your life up until that point? Whatever it was, it probably doesn't compare to Joan of Arc, the young French girl who left home, became a soldier, led French troops to victory, and then eventually crowned the King of France. And if that wasn't enough, the Catholic Church made her a saint (but that was long after she had died). If your looking for a biography on a historical figure who inspires,...more
Anna
I enjoyed this book, but feel like it only skimmed the surface about Joan of Arc. She's still as enigmatic to me now as she was before I read the book. I wish the author had gone a little deeper and actually proposed some explanation as to what was motivating Joan. Or, some would say, what was wrong with Joan. There were theories, but they seemed very disorganized to me. Just a lot of "maybes." But, still, a good read for someone who is just being introduced to Joan of Arc.
Sarah
Solid history/account and I learned a lot.
Carly
I picked this up with the Sam Harris, which I suppose was my way of balancing atheism with some sense of the history and scope of Christianity in our world. It was an interesting read, although I definitely enjoyed the subject more than the writing - Gordon obviously cherished her subject's complexity, and respected the limitations of our knowledge of her, but the language got a little too lofty. and i like lofty language.
Edward
What did she look like, anyway? Best guess is that she was a short stocky peasant-type, not the willowy pretty figure that any number of movies have made her out to be. Interesting fact: over 20,000 books about her in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris - people read themselves into her, mainly that the most unlike people have tremendous potential in themselves, and so she never goes out of date.
Cat
Who knew how witty and irascible Joan of Arc was? Gordon brings the girl to life in this brief, well-researched and insightful account. An enjoyable read, the youth and contradictory words and actions of this misunderstood 17 year-old girl are fresh and endearing. If you know nothing about Joan, check this out. You'll discover a new friend and won't be disappointed.
Elizabeth
One of the wonderful Penguin Lives series this examination of Joan as a complex, admirable young woman whose spirit could still inspire today's young women, puts to rest any old scepticism about the effect of "hearing voices." That one issue would seem to be the only drawback to seeing Joan as a protofeminist.
Reid
More than a chronology of Joan's life, this is more in the form of essays commenting on different aspects of her life and legend. Gordon is an astute and absorbing writer, and this is very enjoyable to anyone who has an interest in the life of Joan of Arc.
Tako
This book is about the French peasant leader, from medieval Europe, Joan Of Arc. It's very interesting book, for those who are interesed in history. This book is about the biography of Joan of Arc, from her birth, to her death and becoming a saint.
Bill Wrabley
Good overall treatment but brief. Also it was a little too dispassionate. Joan's story is so amazing, even if you don't believe that God spoke to her, that I would have to think your writing would be more lively.
Pete daPixie
I read this in one afternoon. I didn't really get off on Mary Gordon's work. She's not a historian. No maps! No new info on Joan d'Arc. The French were fighting the British for god's sake.
Just Plain Ray
After trying to read it, I still didn't get it. Although Joan of Arc may be someone who's life is very interesting, the book made it seem like the most boring thing EVER!
Patricia
I've always been curious about this woman. This author did a good job in presenting the material and laying out the story as documented in written materials of the time of place.
Flowerdreaming
What an amazing girl! During her time and her life to do what she did for her beliefs, her family was an obstacle--- her time in history was extraordinary!
Sydney
A somewhat dry and lifeless historical account of Joan of Arc and her trial. Not sure I could recommend this story unless one is huge history buff.
Corilla
What a wonderful narrative about the amazingly interesting tale which is Joan of Arc. Reminds me of the Maid of Tarth.. ;)
Sue
Non-fiction. Interesting. Was 19 years old when she was burned at the stake in 1931. She crowned the King of France.
Lacey
I thought it would be more like a biography and it was not. I wanted a biography instead of this book.
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Mary Gordon was born in Far Rockaway, New York, to Anna Gagliano Gordon, an Italian-Irish Catholic mother, and David Gordon, a Jewish father who converted to Catholicism. While growing up, she attended Holy Name of Mary School in Valley Stream and for high school attended The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica, N.Y.. She is Catholic.

She received her A.B. from Barnard College in 1971, and her M.A. from...more
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