Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

Author David Elliott explores how Joan of Arc changed the course of history and remains a figure of fascination centuries after her extraordinary life and death.Told through medieval poetic forms and in the voices of the people and objects in Joan of Arc’s life, (including her family and even the trees, clothes, cows, and candles of her childhood). Along the way it explore...

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Title:Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc
Author:David Elliott
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc Reviews

  • Katherine Moore

    This book is exquisite. ‘Voices: The Final Hours Of Joan Of Arc’ has brought life once again to one of the most unforgettable and extraordinary female warrior icons. Everyone knows her name, but do they know her story?

    Told in verse, in different medieval forms of poems, ’Voices’ is so unique (some stanzas are shaped like the subject that is ‘speaking,’ ie the sword or the crossbow). David Elliott has written such a compelling account of Joan’s short life from her beginnings in Domrémy, to her v

    This book is exquisite. ‘Voices: The Final Hours Of Joan Of Arc’ has brought life once again to one of the most unforgettable and extraordinary female warrior icons. Everyone knows her name, but do they know her story?

    Told in verse, in different medieval forms of poems, ’Voices’ is so unique (some stanzas are shaped like the subject that is ‘speaking,’ ie the sword or the crossbow). David Elliott has written such a compelling account of Joan’s short life from her beginnings in Domrémy, to her visions of the Saints, the battles she led against the English, and her eventual capture and execution. The encroaching ‘Fire’ poem that repeats throughout the novel is particularly clever and impactful.

    Back then in 1430 France (when she was captured and put on trial), Joan was viewed with suspicion and as an affront to the Crown because she dressed in armor and wanted to ’look like a man’. She didn't believe she should have to stay at home ’to sew and mate’ when a war was being fought, simply because she didn't want to, never mind her sexuality. Her story has always been known as one of the earliest examples of a woman standing up against misogyny, against a patriarchal system that didn't make sense to her, and because her beliefs simply wouldn't allow her to sit down and accept what was happening around her. Joan’s voice and perspective come through clearly in the novel as brave and courageous, with the right bit of stubborn. She questions the system and pursues her objectives, which give the novel an obvious ambiance of inspiration throughout.

    I only really wanted more from the novel when it came to the trial and perhaps the very end of her life. Joan became a Saint after her death and was declared a martyr for everything she gave for ’God and country’. I did appreciate the epilogue and author's note at the end of the book; it seems this work was a labor of love and I enjoyed reading about its inception.

    Joan of Arc is a historical figure who is infamous because of the brave, short life she lived, with such a tragic death, and I think Elliott has written something brilliant here that can draw many people in to learn more about her.

  • Sam & Isabelle (CapuletReads)

    Okay, so something to know about me is I have a weird fascination with Joan of Arc.

    Literally one day I woke up and had to know everything about her.

    So when I heard there was a YA book about Joan of Arc coming out I knew I had to get my hands on it. I also had some really high expectations. And I can say, without a doubt, this book was everything I wanted and more. I didn't expect the book to be told in poems (I obviously didn't read the synopsis), and it ended up being a delightful surprise. 

    Wha

    Okay, so something to know about me is I have a weird fascination with Joan of Arc.

    Literally one day I woke up and had to know everything about her.

    So when I heard there was a YA book about Joan of Arc coming out I knew I had to get my hands on it. I also had some really high expectations. And I can say, without a doubt, this book was everything I wanted and more. I didn't expect the book to be told in poems (I obviously didn't read the synopsis), and it ended up being a delightful surprise. 

    What fascinated me most about this collection was the little details. Like the fact that each poem is written in a poetic style popular in Joan's lifetime, how some poems are shaped like the object it's POV is told from, including quotes from Joan's trial, and how the poems aren't just written from the point of view of Joan and company, but from the objects close to her as well. I didn't expect half of these things when I started reading, and now I couldn't imagine the story being told well without them!

    The author did a really good job retelling Joan of Arc's life so anyone could pick up the book without having to know anything about her beforehand. Which is why I'm totally going to make everyone I know read it when it releases in bookstores. 

  • Caylynn Bleess

    This was my first time ever diving into a book written in verse, and I was

    . Jeannette- more commonly known as Joan of Arc- was my biggest idol during my childhood years. I aspired to be her, I read tons of kid friendly history books about her, I wrote all my essays about her in some way or form, etc. She was a

    part of formin

    This was my first time ever diving into a book written in verse, and I was

    . Jeannette- more commonly known as Joan of Arc- was my biggest idol during my childhood years. I aspired to be her, I read tons of kid friendly history books about her, I wrote all my essays about her in some way or form, etc. She was a

    part of forming who I am today. So trust me when I say that I'm pretty damn knowledgable about her.

    That being said, this book did a spectacular job in summarizing the formative and, consequentially, the end years of Joan's life. While there are definitely some parts glossed over or ignored entirely (come on, this book would have to be WAY longer), David Elliott does a good job in playing with different poetic forms and words to put a unique voice to her story. He not only uses multiple forms- nine, to be precise- he also uses multiple perspectives of both animate and inanimate objects to shine a new light on the true tale of Joan of Arc.

    He swaps between Joan's POV to the cattle in the fields, the red dress she wore every single day to the suit of armor and the sword she donned, the Saint Michael to the banner Joan flew under.

    Just, like, does anyone have any recommendations similar to this? Where the author brilliantly uses the key objects that defined a person to

    describe said person? Even her

    has some words to share!

    And not only does he incorporate all these incredible poems from different perspectives, but Elliott

    throws in direct quotes from the Trial of Condemnation AND the Trial of Nullification!

    All I'm going to say in conclusion is-

  • Nicole Hewitt

    This review and many more can be found on my blog:

    First off, I highly recommend that you read this book aloud because a lot of the book is written in rhymed and metered verse. I started out reading in my head, and I liked it, but when I started to read aloud the verse truly came alive. You'll have to have an open mind when you read this---some

    This review and many more can be found on my blog:

    First off, I highly recommend that you read this book aloud because a lot of the book is written in rhymed and metered verse. I started out reading in my head, and I liked it, but when I started to read aloud the verse truly came alive. You'll have to have an open mind when you read this---some of the poems are told from the perspectives of actual objects in Joan's life, including swords, her dress, etc. (in concrete poems, so they're shaped like the objects). And Elliott often uses

    I loved these unique styles, but I love poetry in most of its forms, so...

    Basically, in case you're not familiar with the story, it comes down to the fact that she's a woman who acts and dresses like a man. Horror of horrors! (Oh, and the men she led didn't try to take advantage of her, so she was obviously a witch.) We also get the perspectives of some of the other people who knew Joan. Even though the story is obviously tragic, the emotion isn't particularly palpable (this is often the case for me with verse). Still, I thought this account was

    I easily zipped through the book in one sitting.

  • Madison Berry

    I just read this in one hour and....holy shit

  • Briana

    This is a creative book, a story told in different types of verse by Joan herself and by different people and objects that were present during her life and near her death (the flames at her pyre, St. Michael the Archangel, her banner, her sword, etc.). Its unique form and its attempt to deal with subject matter like medieval gender roles will likely make it popular with educators, librarians, and award committees.  Other Goodreads reviews also suggest that readers unfamiliar with Joan of Arc lik

    This is a creative book, a story told in different types of verse by Joan herself and by different people and objects that were present during her life and near her death (the flames at her pyre, St. Michael the Archangel, her banner, her sword, etc.). Its unique form and its attempt to deal with subject matter like medieval gender roles will likely make it popular with educators, librarians, and award committees.  Other Goodreads reviews also suggest that readers unfamiliar with Joan of Arc liked the book as a general introduction to her life.  However, as someone familiar with Joan and who studied medieval literature in graduate school, I was largely unimpressed.  The book attempts to grapple with important questions of power, gender, and religion but ultimately misses any nuance and, frankly, seems completely unaware of what actual medievalists have to say about the subject.

    First, I think the book doesn't take Joan's religion seriously, which is a problem I have in general when authors tackle religious figures and try to write them for a popular, secular audience. Elliott doesn't seem comfortable suggesting that Joan believes her own visions or that anyone else believes her.  He has a whole poem from St. Michael's point of view that suggests he may or may not be real and ponders whether, if he is real, he can really be counted as a saint. (Which seems to overlook the Catholic definition that a saint is anyone in heaven so, yes, if Michael the Archangel is real he is 100% a saint; this has nothing to do with whether he feels his personality or actions deserve the title.)  Another poem from St. Margaret reflects that "saints are just human" and she can't really do anything to help Joan, which also seems counter to actual Catholic teaching.  The book obviously doesn't need to support Catholicism, but I do think a book that is about a Catholic saint and seems to be trying to celebrate that person should, in fact, take their religion and religious beliefs seriously instead of trying to minimize them.

    I also have concerns about the discussion of gender. Elliott's portrayal of Joan is one (a stereotypical YA one?) of a young girl who never liked doing girly things like sewing, who hated wearing dresses, who always dreamed of going to war, and who says she is more comfortable in the military than anywhere else.  There is no historical evidence to support this.  Of course Joan and her supporters would have reason to lie and make her seem content with "women's work," but all the evidence we have suggests that Joan was a "good girl," a quiet religious girl who was good at sewing and such and never gave anyone the impression she was itching to throw away her mending, rip off her dress, and go to war.

    Elliott further suggests that Joan was uncomfortable wearing women's clothes and feeling men's clothes felt "right" to her.  Perhaps, but this is speculation on Elliott's part, a suggestion that perhaps she really did feel like or yearn to be a man.  Historical evidence, on the other hand, suggests that she dressed as a man primarily to avoid being raped.  She didn't want to obviously look like a woman when surrounded by men.  Furthermore, historical evidence shows she had a number of fastenings and ties added to her clothing that would have been unusual on the average menswear--presumably to make it harder for someone to forcibly take it off her.  The records are also clear that she regularly slept fully clothed AND fully armed; again, presumably for her personal safety. Elliott glosses over all of this.

    Finally, the book suggests that Joan was primarily killed for acting/dressing like a man.  Certainly this was a sticking point in her trial, part of the evidence that she was unnatural, possibly a witch. However, it's clear that she was killed by the English because, well, she was French and winning battles for the French.  Again, Elliott completely overlooks an important medieval discussion: the fine line between being a saint and a witch for women in the Middle Ages.  Joans actions were praised by the French and condemned by the English; the French thought she was from God, and the English thought she was the devil.   This was obviously for political reasons, and she was not killed for acting like a man.  I think if Elliott had even really dipped his toes into medieval scholarship or discussions surrounding Joan, the witch/saint dichotomy would have been evident to him, and it should have played a larger role in this book.

    It's clear from reading other Goodreads reviews that I am currently the only one taking these types of issues with the book.  If you just want an overview of Joan's life and to get a general sense of what she did and how others responded, this certainly will work as an introduction.  I think anyone who has a particular interest in Joan and has read a lot about her will be disappointed by how speculative this is and how it seems grounded more in the author's opinions and interpretations than solid research.

  • Bitchin' Reads

    2/19/2019: Second read through for a reading challenge, prompt "historical retelling." This is the perfect quick read to fulfill the prompt too. I think I enjoyed it more this second go around since I knew what to expect. The trouble women face with societal expectations hit me a little harder this time and I can't stop thinking about it.

    ***

    This was a different kind of read for me. It's kinda a historical verse novel with some perspectives that are explored and imagined. Unfortunately, I don't c

    2/19/2019: Second read through for a reading challenge, prompt "historical retelling." This is the perfect quick read to fulfill the prompt too. I think I enjoyed it more this second go around since I knew what to expect. The trouble women face with societal expectations hit me a little harder this time and I can't stop thinking about it.

    ***

    This was a different kind of read for me. It's kinda a historical verse novel with some perspectives that are explored and imagined. Unfortunately, I don't connect well with verse novels well, but this was pretty good for something I don't normally connect with. It is creative, it is strong, and it does a good job painting what it is like to be a woman in a very man-centric world. Not to mention, some of the perspectives from inanimate objects were really neat and explored how things on or around a person can influence how they are perceived, especially when it comes to people who present a threat. I suggest that you give it a shot and see how you like it--it was a surprise to me, seeing as I anticipated not digging it much.

    Happy reading!

  • Em

    I read this in the span of 45 minutes, and while the writing was so beautiful, I really didn’t care much for this at all. I don’t think it was as awe inspiring as I hoped, and I really struggled because it wasn’t holding my attention well. Perhaps it’s a case of its-not-you-it’s me, but I just felt this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.

  • Jesse (JesseTheReader)

    This was really fascinating! To be honest, I don't know too much about Joan of Arc, but it was neat learning more about her through this poetry format. I loved the unique perspective of her story being told through things like her armor, her sword, a tower, fire.. the list goes on and on. I did feel like sometimes the flow of the story felt a bit off, but for the most part I liked this quite a bit!

  • Hannah Jayne

    I don’t know how to rate this

    I don’t know the actual story of Joan of Arc

    I don’t know if this was accurate at all

    I don’t know if I’m supposed to like her or not

    What a strange story

    What a scary story

    Other than that — and the general wariness that all brings — the poetic structure was really cool. Much cooler if you read it out loud and get a feel for the rhythms. A little boring and repetitive if you read it in your head. I liked the perspectives of inanimate objects, and the placement of words o

    I don’t know how to rate this

    I don’t know the actual story of Joan of Arc

    I don’t know if this was accurate at all

    I don’t know if I’m supposed to like her or not

    What a strange story

    What a scary story

    Other than that — and the general wariness that all brings — the poetic structure was really cool. Much cooler if you read it out loud and get a feel for the rhythms. A little boring and repetitive if you read it in your head. I liked the perspectives of inanimate objects, and the placement of words on the pages. They made designs. I greatly appreciated the actual quotes from the Trials, so that there was some element of truth to be held on to. Now I just have to go read the whole actual trials to gather the real story. Context shouldn’t be malleable, yet we try.

    Between three and two stars? Sad. But it was worth it. The intrigue of how this used art to tell a story, and the inspirational feeling that is, definitely worth it. The confusion and cautious analysis of every idea hinted at, a reminder to be wary of the world and its lies, honestly, also worth it. Plus now I want to go read an actual history book or something, yay learning.

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