While I'm still fascinated by Joan's story I found this book hard going. Michael Morpurgo uses a story within a story technique to tell Joan's rather famous story. Sixteen year old modern girl Eloise Hardy grows up in Montpellier under the shadow of a portrait of Joan of Arc.
Eloise is quite fascinated with Joan, and after her family moves to Orleans she enters an essay competition to win the chance to be Joan for a day, leading a procession to mark the anniversary of the relief of Orleans on May 8. Which is ok, but then Joan's story is told with Joan being kept company by a white sparrow called Belami. For some reason this annoyed me from the get go, and my interest in the book never recovered.
Of course there are interesting facts along the way (and I do believe that this is rather a faithful retelling of Joan's life).
|15th century France was quite different
They're of our blood, they're French, and they ally themselves with the English, parcelling up the country, my country, as they see fit. English, Burgundians, they raid and rob wherever they want, and we have no power, nor any will, it seems, to stop them.
|Joan jumped from the tower at Beaurevoir
Joan was betrayed by the very king that she spent her life fighting for, the king she saw crowned in Reims.
King Charles himself, it seemed, the king she had restored to his throne, had personally ordered the bridge to be destroyed, and the attack on Paris to be halted. Behind her back he had come to terms again with the Burgundians and the English. Paris and the north of the country would be left to the Duke of Burgundy and the English, if he could keep all the conquests to the south. The king was going to disband his army, her army, leaving the English still in France.
Throughout Joan refers to the English as Godoms, a term unfamiliar to me, and one that I've had no success Googling. There is no glossary, and it isn't in my Shorter Oxford Dictionary either. These English Godoms were to pay 10,000 pounds for Joan.
After her trial, Joan was sentenced to death in the cemetery at Rouen, she then recanted her story about her voices, her apparitions. The next day she was to retract her recanting, and was of course burnt at the stake in the market place of Rouen.
There were no cheers now. Many cried openly at what they had just witnessed. 'We are lost,' said one of the English soldiers. 'We have just burnt a saint.'
|Also published as Sparrow
|Books on France, a great 2013 challenge from Emma at Words and Peace
|Dreaming of France, a great Monday meme
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog