A multivoiced verse retelling of the last day of Joan of Arc’s life.
Interspersed with snippets from the transcripts of the Trial of Condemnation and Trial of Nullification are monologues in verse from the individuals surrounding Joan, in actuality or in memory, on the last day of her life. The expected characters are there—Charles VII, her mother, the saints who guided her—but also other, unexpected, choices—the fire, the arrowhead that pierced her shoulder, her hair, her virginity. The title cleverly alludes to both the voices that guided Joan and the cacophony of voices in the book, all of whom take various forms that heighten their individual personality. There is concrete poetry as well as poetic forms popular during and after Joan’s time: the villanelle, the sestina, the rondeau, and the ballade. Joan herself is ethereal, wondering, and poignant. The conceit works; the variety of voices and compelling verse bring the story to life and heighten the pathos of Joan’s death. Among her last words: “…the penetrating / pain will be my ecstasy in / knowing I was true; there is nothing / I have done that I would alter / or undo.” Compelling for pleasure reading, this will also be a valuable addition to language arts lessons.
An innovative, entrancing account of a popular figure that will appeal to fans of verse, history, and biography. (preface, map, author’s note, list of poetic forms) (Historical verse novel. 13-adult)