A captivating depiction of a 15th-century conflict and a dramatically thrilling interpretation of Joan of Arc’s life.

THE ANGEL OF LORRAINE

From the Richard Calveley Trilogy series , Vol. 3

This final installment of a trilogy reimagines the story of Joan of Arc. 

In 1428, the situation for France is dire. The war against the English is “going from bad to worse,” and the possibility that Orléans will be conquered poses a grave threat: “Everyone knew that if Orléans fell, the heartland of France would be open to the invaders.” Then a sliver of hope is delivered by a young girl, Jeanne Darc, the daughter of landowning peasants in remote Domremy. She’s only 16 years old but claims to have received divine communications from St. Michael, the archangel, who assures her that her mission in life is to ensure the revival of France’s sovereignty: “I must go to the dauphin and lead his army to victory against the English. My banner will show Jesus Christ Our Saviour blessing an image of the fleur-de-lis held by a warrior angel.” Astonishingly, Jeanne is able to convince a series of important men she is neither delusional nor a malevolent agent of Satan, impressing each with “an aura, a kind of light about her which forces you to listen.” In this volume of Tallon’s (The Templar Legacy, 2019, etc.) Richard Calveley Trilogy, an earnestly credulous account of Jeanne’s contribution to the war effort is chronicled alongside a portrayal of Richard, an English captain forced in his dotage to consider his future beyond military life. The author vividly re-creates the historical period in all its riveting drama. In addition to a rigorously realistic account of the war, he skillfully articulates the views of the competing sides. Jeanne’s part of that history has been told many times, and Tallon’s version doesn’t add anything that is particularly fresh. The novel also assumes the least plausible rendering of a tale that reads like mythology—Jeanne is presented as genuinely inspired by divine epiphany. Of course, this is a matter of great debate, and she could perhaps more plausibly be portrayed as a mentally ill teenager cynically exploited by statesmen. Whatever position readers take on Jeanne, the author grippingly brings to life her extraordinary existence and grim end. Richard’s story is less enthralling and so quotidian by comparison that it seems tepid. As a result, the book drags a bit—a shorter version may have more effectively sustained the tale’s electricity. 

A captivating depiction of a 15th-century conflict and a dramatically thrilling interpretation of Joan of Arc’s life. 

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64348-994-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: BookVenture Publishing LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2019

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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