“The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc” was written by Mark Twain under the pseudonym “Sieur Louis de Co...moreBook report: Joan of Arc, by Mark Twain ~~~
“The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc” was written by Mark Twain under the pseudonym “Sieur Louis de Conte”, his fictionalized version of Joan’s page and secretary. Twain describes Joan as a selfless young girl, loyal and faithful, noble and true, forgiving and gracious, wise beyond her years and strong in battle, devoted to God and her country. He concludes his essay by stating, “She is easily and by far the most extraordinary person that the human race has ever produced.”
Joan grew up in the French village of Domremy. Even at a young age, she was known for her persuasive nature, selflessness, and care for the disadvantaged. Completely loyal, Joan was a fiery French patriot, believing in the Dauphin’s right to the throne. She was also devoted in her faith, and at a young age, Joan began to receive visions (she called them her “Voices”). One day with her friends, Joan prophesied that the Dauphin would ascend his throne via an act of God. Through her visions, Joan was commanded to leave her hometown, lead the French army to lift the siege of Orleans, and crown the Dauphin as king at Rheims.
In 1428, Joan left her village, and went to visit the governor, to petition his help in reaching the Dauphin. She was tested for possession, theological correctness, and righteous living by multiple experts and panels of experts. In each test, Joan was not only proven to have impeccable rectitude, she also won over many of her interrogators to support her cause. On February 14th, Joan approached the governor to tell him of a battle loss that had just occurred. Disappointed, she said that if he had allowed her to go seek the Dauphin, the French army would not have lost that day’s battle. The governor was shocked, as reports from a day’s battle would not reach his town for at least a week. He promised her that if what she said was confirmed, he would furnish her with men, and allow her to go to the Dauphin. Joan was satisfied, and prepared for a departure at 11pm on the 23rd. At 10pm on the 23rd, the governor visited her residence, and gave her authority to visit the Dauphin.
Joan reached the Dauphin safely, but was again tested many times, by many different courts of religious authority. Twain compares the situation to a person being giving a cat to solve their rat infestation, however, rather than inquiring as to the cat’s rat-catching skills, the person inquires as to whether it is a righteous, upstanding cat. Finally, the courts concluded that Joan was sent from God, and that she was correct in her mission and actions. Joan was made general and commander-in-chief of France’s armies, and headed out to lift the siege of Orleans. The people of France arose to support their young deliverer, but Joan faced resistance and deception from the Dauphin’s councils and advisors. With the aid of some loyal officials, and her natural wisdom, perception, and commitment to her cause, Joan’s agenda won out in the end.
In a decisive victory, Joan lifted the siege of Orleans; hence, beginning the end of the Hundred Years War. Throughout her time in the military, Joan extended grace and peace to her enemies, before taking them by storm. Whenever she was in battle, Joan’s spirit and strength emerged, inspiring her soldiers, and leading her army to triumph. Joan still preserved the heart of a young girl, even as she was thrust into her role as general and commander of France’s armies. She would cry over the death and destruction, even of that the enemy.
Despite continued resistance from scheming councils, Joan insisted on an official coronation of the Dauphin in Rheims. Her armies cleared the way, and eventually the Dauphin was crowned King. Joan’s intuitive wisdom is showcased in this policy: the common people of France would recognize the authority of the Dauphin only once he officially became King. Through the coronation, common France united behind the King. The fact that a young illiterate country girl could liberate France was nearly unbelievable. Joan’s spirit of patriotism, devotion to her cause, persuasive rhetorical skills, inherent perception, and astonishing acumen all combined to make her a powerful force in France. After the lifting of the siege, and the coronation of the King, Joan requested permission to return home. However, this was not allowed, and Joan continued to lead the armies in small skirmishes around the nation. She aspired to take Paris, and reunite the entire country, but the King’s advisors prevented this. Joan made other prophecies throughout this time – often speaking things that were not proven true until after her death.
During one minor battle, Joan was captured by Burgundian forces. Surprisingly, France took absolutely no action to ransom or rescue her, and she was sold to the English. Joan was tried before a church court that lacked authority, and that had already decided its verdict before the trial began. They offered Joan no defense team, and they attempted to take advantage of her youth and inexperience with the judicial system. It was completely within her right to demand to be taken and tried before the Pope, with neutral judges, but Joan knew nothing of this. The entire trial was a setup, yet Joan persevered. Public trials, private trials, trickery, deceptions, and even tortures were tried to break Joan’s spirit and to force her to stain her integrity – but nothing was successful. Joan’s natural wit eluded many traps, and she would not allow the court to judge her mission. Even when threatened with death or torture, she stood in the truth and her revelations from God. She continued to frustrate the judges, but in the end, time won out.
Joan’s health failed, and the court closed in. To the end, Joan exposed their schemes, and stood for her faith and her King. They manipulated situations to make Joan appear in the wrong, and declared outright lies about her character. They promised to transfer her imprisonment to a church and to give her mass, and thus convinced her to sign what she believed to be a promise to live righteously. However, this paper was actually an admission to all of the lies the court had been propagating. Charged with witchcraft (listening to the voices) and heresy (wearing men’s clothes), Joan was sentenced to death if she relapsed, and was thrown back into prison (this time in women’s clothing). After suffering further in prison, the guards took away her women’s clothes, forcing her to wear men’s clothes. The court turned a blind eye to all of the guards’ behavior, declared this a relapse, and sent Joan to the stake.
On her way to execution, one of the most prominent judges begged her forgiveness – and she gave it. Even to her death, Joan was concerned with the safety and salvation of those around her. A preacher was commissioned to speak before she was executed. During the sermon, he dirtied her character – and she endured, simply waiting for the end. During the sermon, he spoke ill of the King – and Joan’s spirit arose. She declared the righteousness of her mission and the faith of her King (even as he had done nothing to save her). The corrupt judges urged her to repent, and she stood up to them, professing faith and truth. They declared her a heretic and excommunicated her, but she remained grounded in her mission and her revelations. She was no longer afraid, but assured of her position in paradise. When she was about to be burned, she asked for a cross to look upon. None could be procured immediately, but an English soldier broke a stick, and held it up for her in the symbol of a cross.
Joan of Arc died that day, but her spirit was not broken. She died defending the King of France, devoted to the King of Heaven. (less)
"Michael Vey" is interesting, hilarious, and creative. While I occasionally found the writing style a little clunky, and there were a few editing mist...more"Michael Vey" is interesting, hilarious, and creative. While I occasionally found the writing style a little clunky, and there were a few editing mistakes, the unique electrical powers premise, and the sweetness and realism of the characters more than made up for it.
Michael is a almost a normal teenage kid, with a nerdy, weird best friend (Ostin - like the Texas city, only his mom couldn't spell), who likes the cheerleader at his school (Taylor). But Michael has electric powers, and Tourette's syndrome. Michael and his mom have moved all over the US, trying to keep his electricity secret. One day at school, Michael loses control, and shocks some bullies, witnessed by Taylor. Taylor invites him over to his house, and shares her secret: she's electric too. Her electricity allows her to read people's minds, or to "reboot" their system.
While out to pizza for his birthday, Michael's mom is kidnapped by a man and two other apparently electric teens. Soon Taylor and Michael discover that they are the product of medical equipment malfunctioning, and the corporation that created the equipment is hunting them down.
(view spoiler)[ They journey to the company's compound in California, seeking to rescue Michael's mom. They find that the electric children have been sought out and brainwashed by the evil Dr. Hatch: the children are raised in luxury, at the price of compromising their principles. The electric teens are taught think of themselves as the elite and to think of the non-electric as disposable, performing any evil act, so long as it furthers their plans to rule the world. Dr. Hatch is a convincing evil leader, because he never comes across as explicitly bad. He is always manipulating, always scheming, and always framing situations in ways that make him seem noble and good. (hide spoiler)]
The basic plotline is used in many books - trio of friends fighting the evil people who want to take over the world, but the specific twist used by Evans makes it unique. I love it when an author can take a basic setup, but change the premise to make the story interesting and engaging.
The themes espoused by "Michael Vey" are important principles that should always be remembered in life. Adherence to principles and to the truth is emphasized as an important value, in a subtle manner - never explicitly. (view spoiler)[(The scene in which Michael is asked to kill a man in exchange for his mother's life presents that central question, "do the ends justify the means?" and answers it in a convincing manner, with a resounding "no.") (hide spoiler)]
The friendships in "Michael Vey" were realistic and touching. I simply adored McKenna, Abi, and Ian, (view spoiler)[ who are kept in the dungeons for refusing to compromise their principles. Their care for Michael, who they don't know (except that they have seen him stay true to his principles), when he is being tortured is so beautiful. (hide spoiler)]
"Michael Vey" contains loyalty, love of family, friendship, and humor, resulting in a engaging book that leaves you with important values. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In 277 pages, L.M. Montgomery seals her 8-book "Anne of Green Gables" series with a beautiful story of growth and character. Set around World War 1, t...moreIn 277 pages, L.M. Montgomery seals her 8-book "Anne of Green Gables" series with a beautiful story of growth and character. Set around World War 1, this book centers on Rilla (Anne's youngest daughter) and the Blythe family's life in Canada.
Rilla starts out a carefree, lighthearted, emotional, shallow 14-year-old, extremely focused on having as much fun as possible. However, World War 1 begins before Rilla's years of fun can. Through four years of trials and hardship, Rilla matures into a wonderful, mature, responsible, caring woman. At the beginning of the book, you smile and are amused by the adorable Rilla - by the end of the book, you hold a great amount of respect for Rilla's strength and love for others. Rilla holds her tongue when faced with vengeful gossips, adopts and cares for a war baby (even as she dislikes children) (the part where she brings the baby home in a soup tureen is hilarious), encourages and loves her brothers as they go to fight (alongside the sweetest little dog, who made me cry), strengthens her parents and family, as well as organizing and running Red Cross efforts. I admired her perseverance.
Two quotes from the book I absolutely loved:
"I doubted God last Sunday," said Rilla, "but I don't doubt Him today. Evil cannot win. Spirit is on our side and it is bound to outlast flesh."
"And two years ago this morning I woke wondering what delightful gift the new day would give me. These are the two years I thought would be filled with fun." "Would you exchange them - now - for two years filled with fun?" "No," said Rilla slowly. "I wouldn't. It's strange - isn't it? - They have been two terrible years - and yet I have a queer feeling of thankfulness for them - as if they had brought me something very precious in all their pain. I wouldn't want to go back and be the girl I was two years ago, not even if I could. Not that I think I've made any wonderful progress - but I'm not quite the selfish, frivolous little doll I was then. I suppose I had a soul then, Miss Oliver - but I didn't know it. I know it now - and that is worth a great deal - worth all the suffering of the past few years." (emphasis in original)
The way that the family clung to each other and to God, even in the face of unbelievable pain, was beautiful. The family does not lose a sense of joy and fun either - yet it's a different kind of fun. Joy and faith continue to uphold the family. Discouragement occurs, but they strengthen each other, growing in the pain. Rilla's journey is believable, encouraging, and enjoyable.
She will keep faith, and fight for the ideals which many died for: truth, honor, faith, and freedom.(less)