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Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

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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 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 explores issues such as gender, misogyny, and the peril of speaking truth to power. Before Joan of Arc became a saint, she was a girl inspired. It is that girl we come to know in Voices.


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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 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 explores issues such as gender, misogyny, and the peril of speaking truth to power. Before Joan of Arc became a saint, she was a girl inspired. It is that girl we come to know in Voices.

30 review for Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

  1. 5 out of 5

    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!

  2. 4 out of 5

    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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    TL

    3.5 stars Enjoyed it for the most part. Author is very talented in this format. *awkward phrasing but too tired right now. * Some of the POVs from inanimate objects were weird to me (didn't care for most of them). Especially (view spoiler)[Virginity and Lust... I can see why he did that but to me, it was just weird. The sword and dress ones were slightly better. (hide spoiler)] . Some of the formats for the different POVs are formatted different and have smaller print. So fair warning to those who 3.5 stars Enjoyed it for the most part. Author is very talented in this format. *awkward phrasing but too tired right now. * Some of the POVs from inanimate objects were weird to me (didn't care for most of them). Especially (view spoiler)[Virginity and Lust... I can see why he did that but to me, it was just weird. The sword and dress ones were slightly better. (hide spoiler)] . Some of the formats for the different POVs are formatted different and have smaller print. So fair warning to those who also have a problem with small print. Its not much of the book at least. (Picture of one in status update if you are interested. ) Would recommend. Already ordered Bull , looking forward to that:)

  4. 5 out of 5

    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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sophie_The_Jedi_Knight

    Saints are only human. This was a very well-written little book. I'm a huge fan of Joan of Arc (although I don't know nearly enough about her), so I was very excited for this. The writing is absolutely gorgeous, the way the poems are written gave me chills, and I loved reading this. I was anticipating everything up until the very last moment, and yet I was not fully prepared. Also, the title's great. However, there were two things about this that affected my rating. 1.) The Religious Aspect I'm sorr Saints are only human. This was a very well-written little book. I'm a huge fan of Joan of Arc (although I don't know nearly enough about her), so I was very excited for this. The writing is absolutely gorgeous, the way the poems are written gave me chills, and I loved reading this. I was anticipating everything up until the very last moment, and yet I was not fully prepared. Also, the title's great. However, there were two things about this that affected my rating. 1.) The Religious Aspect I'm sorry, but you can't write a story about a girl who saw angels all her life and died for her faith and talk about it with this cavalier attitude. Clearly Elliot isn't religious, because he's doubtful of Joan the whole time. The poem from Saint Michael's perspective is just him saying "Maybe she saw us, maybe not, but does it matter?" Yes, it does. Joan's faith was an incredibly major part of her life, and it's just wrong to write about it from this standpoint. Honestly, as beautifully as this book was written, maybe Elliot wasn't the right one to write it. 2.) The Sexual Aspect This isn't a large part of the book in any way, but there are a few strange sexual mentions that left me confused and a bit uncomfortable. The poem about a certain sword is very sexualized, talking about its own "man parts" and "penetration" and actually uses the word "phallus." And then the fire is described in the beginning of the book as "an ardent lover's adventuring tongue" and at the end, when it burns Joan, very sexual language is used, as if the fire is raping her. It was just strange and I don't see what it added to the story. I wish this aspect had been dropped and the religious aspect was better explored (or explored at all). I give Voices 4/5 stars. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed reading this. I'd probably read it again. But first, I'd want to read an official biography of Joan of Arc. I just really, really wish the religious aspect was better.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Robin Tobin (On the back porch reading)

    WOW! What a fantastic read. This is a medieval poem masterpiece. The sharing of Joan the Arc's last days and thoughts through various poem/verse styles. Each one cleverly told by Joan or those within the drama of her life. Each poem cleverly presented in a creative, artistic manner to accentuate the mastery of the wordsmith.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brooke — brooklynnnnereads

    I am giving this book 2 stars for my personal reading experience and enjoyment of this story, but it truly does deserve a higher rating when it comes to the talent of the author's writing. While reading, I could identify that the author was clearly talented in his writing skill; however, the verse format was too complex for me to enjoy the story that was being told through it. I find everything surrounding the story of Joan of Arc interesting and due to that it was a good read for the content, b I am giving this book 2 stars for my personal reading experience and enjoyment of this story, but it truly does deserve a higher rating when it comes to the talent of the author's writing. While reading, I could identify that the author was clearly talented in his writing skill; however, the verse format was too complex for me to enjoy the story that was being told through it. I find everything surrounding the story of Joan of Arc interesting and due to that it was a good read for the content, but this book will be for those who have an enjoyment in different styles of poetry. Specifically complicated poetry because in no way was the writing in this volume simple. Unfortunately, I think this was a case of where the writing style was not my 'taste' and because of that, it affected my overall reading experience. I know that there will be others who have an interest in this style of writing and for them, this novel will be beautiful. ***Thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review***

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caylynn

    Every life is its own story- not without a share of glory, and not without a share of grief. I lived like a hero at seventeen. At nineteen, I die like a thief. This was my first time ever diving into a book written in verse, and I was NOT LET DOWN. 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 big part of form Every life is its own story- not without a share of glory, and not without a share of grief. I lived like a hero at seventeen. At nineteen, I die like a thief. This was my first time ever diving into a book written in verse, and I was NOT LET DOWN. 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 big 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. ...Above her head I scream a terrifying prayer. Above her head, a warning from the newly dead to not resist for who would dare to fight the angels singing there above her head? Just, like, does anyone have any recommendations similar to this? Where the author brilliantly uses the key objects that defined a person to actually describe said person? Even her warhorse has some words to share! ...though she was a maid, she was like me and so we were one when we were the wind, untamed, unafraid. Many a knight had been cowed and outdone by my spirit, left broke, unseated, unmade. But she understood. And not only does he incorporate all these incredible poems from different perspectives, but Elliott also throws in direct quotes from the Trial of Condemnation AND the Trial of Nullification! All I'm going to say in conclusion is-

  9. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I read this book in ~45 minutes and I'm really torn. This has been on my list for a little while now, and with my heart hurting from the burning of Notre Dame, I felt like the timing was right to read about Joan. I was a little hesitant to read a book in verse about Joan written by a man, and turns out I was pretty disappointed. Maybe this writing style just isn't for me, but I couldn't get past the very odd, very sexual elements from inanimate objects towards Joan (her tunic against her breasts I read this book in ~45 minutes and I'm really torn. This has been on my list for a little while now, and with my heart hurting from the burning of Notre Dame, I felt like the timing was right to read about Joan. I was a little hesitant to read a book in verse about Joan written by a man, and turns out I was pretty disappointed. Maybe this writing style just isn't for me, but I couldn't get past the very odd, very sexual elements from inanimate objects towards Joan (her tunic against her breasts, her gripping the "manly parts" of the sword, the fire "penetrating her"..). Joan of Arc is so inspiring and was so heroic, and I feel like using this kind of language just totally reduces her story and objectifies her. The fire didn't penetrate her- it burned her, it filled her lungs with smoke, it killed her, it reduced her to ash. Then her ashes were burned a second time and thrown into the Seine so that she could never be laid to rest entirely and in the same place. That's what the fire did. The cover to this book is beautiful and I think that's the only thing about this book that I like tbh.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicole M. Hewitt

    This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction Wow! A historical novel about Joan of Arc in verse? It's either a crazy idea or utterly inspired---turns out it's the latter. 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: Feed Your Fiction Addiction Wow! A historical novel about Joan of Arc in verse? It's either a crazy idea or utterly inspired---turns out it's the latter. 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 forms of poetry that were popular in medieval times, such as villanelles and sestinas. I loved these unique styles, but I love poetry in most of its forms, so...The book recounts Joan of Arc's last days and the events that led to her trial. 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 engrossing and beautifully told. I easily zipped through the book in one sitting. ***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    “It seems to me my only real transgression was to invade and triumph in the sacred land of men; a woman in their landscape was a repugnant, mortal sin, unless she was a loving wife or kneeling nun or knowing prostitute. They would have hated me far less if I had been a girl of ill repute instead of what I was and who I am: a girl who dared to live the life of a brave and honest man.”

  12. 4 out of 5

    bookreaderinluv but she's tired too

    From the start, Joan didn't need or want what other girls needed, her mother, for example. It hurts to have a daughter who so clearly knows her own mind. Such qualities are dangerous in a woman Every time I see something related to Joan of Arc I always feel such an heartbreaking sensation, similar to guilt and pity, but also anger. This book is amazing and an incredible way to teach other people, who have never heard of this incredible woman, her story. I really loved this book, I think it lacks From the start, Joan didn't need or want what other girls needed, her mother, for example. It hurts to have a daughter who so clearly knows her own mind. Such qualities are dangerous in a woman Every time I see something related to Joan of Arc I always feel such an heartbreaking sensation, similar to guilt and pity, but also anger. This book is amazing and an incredible way to teach other people, who have never heard of this incredible woman, her story. I really loved this book, I think it lacks of something and I'm not really sure of what, that's why it's not a full 5 stars book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eva B.

    Apparently I also forgot to review this? It was pretty good, but then again I love almost everything Joan of Arc, and the use of visual poetry was good, and I loved the different perspectives shown. But if you're looking for a Joan of Arc poetry collection, The Language of Fire is a lot better.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    ”It seems to me my only real transgression was to invade and triumph in the sacred land of men; a woman in their landscape was a repugnant, mortal sin, unless she was a loving wife or kneeling nun or knowing prostitute. They would have hated me far less if I had been a girl of ill repute instead of what I was and who I am: a girl who dared to live the life of a brave and honest man.” This book deserves all the applause and so much more. David Elliott hit it out of the park with his free verse retelling ”It seems to me my only real transgression was to invade and triumph in the sacred land of men; a woman in their landscape was a repugnant, mortal sin, unless she was a loving wife or kneeling nun or knowing prostitute. They would have hated me far less if I had been a girl of ill repute instead of what I was and who I am: a girl who dared to live the life of a brave and honest man.” This book deserves all the applause and so much more. David Elliott hit it out of the park with his free verse retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur. In his latest work, he takes on the incomparable Joan of Arc and retells her life not only from her POV, but from the POVS of the people and things that made up her life. In his fiery and captivating narrative, he lets Joan tell her story and crafts a searing, soaring, and rage-filled narrative of one of the greatest military heroines the world has known. ”My name is Joan, but I am called the Maid. My hands are bound behind me. The fire beneath me laid.” There is a stark difference between this book and his previous novel in verse. In Bull, the narrative was filled with hilarious, sarcastic wit, with Poseidon taking the role of the main narrator with his freewheeling, tell it like it is attitude. There were moments of hilarity mixed with moments of brutality and madness. With Voices, there is no humor, no laughter, no sarcastic wit or hilarious insight. Instead, this book is all fire, rage, and anguish. ”While my brothers went to war, I sewed and burned with rage. My dress was a red silence, a hemmed and homespun cage.” Elliott’s Joan has a fire burning inside her that threatens to consume her. She chafes against the gender roles that were commonplace at the time and wishes she could do more. That time comes when the saints speak to her, telling her what she must do. And with a simple, direct, blunt manner she does what they ask. She is not boastful in her victories or narcissistic in her beliefs; she is simply doing what she feels God and the saints she hears want her to do. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Joan. Ever since I was in the 7th grade and I found out about her extraordinary life story, I became fascinated and beguiled by this illiterate peasant girl who somehow managed to command some of the greatest military victories the modern world has seen. How she was able to so quickly round up support and yet have those same people turn against her, call her the most vile things possible, and burn her alive at the stake? ”I reminded myself that I, the daughter of a lowly farmer, had brought this holy day about. I still can hear the people shout… Or is that the throng of people in front of me calling me a slut and witch, their faces warped in anger, their din a frenzied pitch?” I think Elliott has done a good job bringing Joan’s legacy and memory to justice. He describes in the book how he wanted to write her story using a specific writing style, but the character of Joan in his head wouldn’t let him. The POVS of the various other human and non-human characters add a nice quality to the book and really round the story out. From the sword that Joan uses in battle to the red dress she is forced to wear before her life as a solider to the fire that consumes her in the end—they all make up an integral part of Joan’s story, and it is a testament to the author’s imagination and craft with words. Interspersed also are actual snippets of the trail transcripts from Joan’s two trials (one before her death and one after). All these factors made for a truly satisfying read, and I never felt that one POV didn’t belong or bogged down the story line. With this second book, David Elliot is cemented in my book as my favorite verse novelist. That’s saying something too because I am not normally a fan of books in verse. They never have appealed to me simply because I didn’t think that style of narration was necessary. I will follow David Elliot anywhere with his novels in verse. I love how he explains his narration choices and the style of poetry he uses. I think Joan would be proud of this novel and her portrayal in it. In David Elliott’s triumphant work, Joan is a determined, pious, and fierce heroine whose convictions never waver and her steadfast persistence to be seen (and live) as her true self stand true, even when these same qualities get her killed. In this powerful read, we get a glimpse into the minds of one of the greatest female heroines we have ever seen. And even though she has been made a pious saint, in the end, she was simply just a girl named Joan. ”They laughed and called me a whore. I was just a girl. No more than sixteen with no experience of war and no military training. They must have thought me very entertaining. That was their mistake.”

  15. 5 out of 5

    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!

  16. 4 out of 5

    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.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel

    I'm assigning these three stars for ambition, I guess, and also for forthright acknowledgment that I read through the whole thing very quickly--it's possible one of the stars is just for being a book about Jeanne d'Arc, which is a trifle unfair. I dunno what to say, I read a couple of Jeanne d'Arc books as a child (Young Joan is the one that stuck with me) and the unearthly power of her story moves me as well as it moves many. With that in mind, I had two powerful objections or disappointments wi I'm assigning these three stars for ambition, I guess, and also for forthright acknowledgment that I read through the whole thing very quickly--it's possible one of the stars is just for being a book about Jeanne d'Arc, which is a trifle unfair. I dunno what to say, I read a couple of Jeanne d'Arc books as a child (Young Joan is the one that stuck with me) and the unearthly power of her story moves me as well as it moves many. With that in mind, I had two powerful objections or disappointments with this book-- 1) There's a creepy and overdone sexual-symbolism element to several of the poems' themes; just one probably wouldn't have struck me as so inappropriate, but employing it in several isn't "commenting on the paradoxically sexualized legacy of someone famed for being a maiden" as I imagine would be the defense, but is instead insulting, reductive, and, well, creepy. The historical term maiden also does not quite have the same meaning as the term virgin and to use them interchangeably is, again, reductive. 2) More than that, though, and maybe 1) points to this one as well--this book has a queasy and faltering engagement with religious faith and religious passion, which seems like a major disqualifier for writing about Jeanne d'Arc of all people. In the way I think that atheists serenely certain of themselves can be disturbing to fearful and unsure believers, I also think that true and unshakable and ardent believers can be just as disturbing to the irreligious: they do not fit with a hopefully chosen narrative about religion, which is that no one deeply and truly believes it. The words madness and mental illness come up in this context very quickly. I'm hardly disavowing them; I am an atheist myself. But there is something very cowardly about dancing around the uncanny power of this particular historical figure's vision, when it was this vision that made such a mark on the people around her--the book is riddled with the testimonies of people who were moved in this way, in fact, but shies away from giving them much of a voice because it doesn't lend itself neatly to its tidy "unreliable narration" model contrasting her own narration of inner fire with a harsh 'reality' around her. This also shows through on how eager it is to center her social offenses/rebellion on the concept of gender nonconformity, rather than on claiming divinity and leading a messianic rebellion movement, essentially. I'm not opining on whether or not a dead person was 'genuinely' or just 'pragmatically' gender-nonconforming; I think that's a totally ridiculous endeavor and one mostly attractive to conservatives. I just mean that seating what made Jeanne d'Arc threatening primarily in the fact that she wore men's clothing is willfully obtuse to why heresy, and specifically heresy as distinct from apostasy, had (and has) the potential to be so terrifying to orthodoxy. My other remark is that there are too many villanelles and sestinas in here. I don't hate villanelles and sestinas but they get extremely visible at a certain point--yes, yes, I know there's a period/cultural value to this here, it's just the effect ends up like reading "Mad Girl's Love Song" a billion times. Honestly this all just made me want to write something about Jeanne d'Arc at some point, ha.

  18. 4 out of 5

    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.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rian *fire and books*

    Nope. I’m done. Nope nope nope. I got 35% in before the sexual references creeped me out. LITERALLY THERE IS A POEM FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF HER VIRGINITY. How fucking nasty?! The page I gave up on? ”...how naturally I lay against her breasts.” I skimmed to the end to look at quotes from the two trials and glimpsed many more sexual references (don’t ask about the swords) and I’m out. I shouldn’t have trusted a male author to handle such an amazing female figure. I’ll give the author credit for his Nope. I’m done. Nope nope nope. I got 35% in before the sexual references creeped me out. LITERALLY THERE IS A POEM FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF HER VIRGINITY. How fucking nasty?! The page I gave up on? ”...how naturally I lay against her breasts.” I skimmed to the end to look at quotes from the two trials and glimpsed many more sexual references (don’t ask about the swords) and I’m out. I shouldn’t have trusted a male author to handle such an amazing female figure. I’ll give the author credit for his poems that he used. He does employ 9 rather bizarre types of poems to tell the story. It just... this really didn’t work for me on any level. The savage thrust, the burning kiss, the penetrating pain will be my ecstasy ^Fire. He’s talking about fire. Fuck me this is gross.

  20. 4 out of 5

    mara

    I think many people may not enjoy this book because they think it is a novel from the perspective of Joan of Arc when it is a collection of poems from her perspective, her associates and the trial of condemnation. I can see why some may not enjoy it regardless of the misunderstanding, especially if they had no idea about her life in general, but for me who has used her as a model in many a class project, I thoroughly enjoyed every reference made. The poems made me think, wonder, and revel in the I think many people may not enjoy this book because they think it is a novel from the perspective of Joan of Arc when it is a collection of poems from her perspective, her associates and the trial of condemnation. I can see why some may not enjoy it regardless of the misunderstanding, especially if they had no idea about her life in general, but for me who has used her as a model in many a class project, I thoroughly enjoyed every reference made. The poems made me think, wonder, and revel in the beauty of the words chosen by the author. I truly cannot describe my emotions about this collection but I have a feeling that I will be visiting this again and again for inspiration. [types of poetic structure used: (from the author's note) - Toned-down spoken word (Joan's parts) - Ballade (not ballad) - Rondeau - Rondeau redoublé - Rondel - Rondelet - Sestina - Short rondel - Triolet - Villanelle]

  21. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    A quick read told in well-thought-out poetic verse. I don't know much about Joan of Arc, but I enjoyed what this book had to offer of her (though I cannot know how much is actually fact). Took maybe 45 minutes to an hour to read. The story was okay, but the 4* is really for the author's craft into this work. An excellent book to have on my classroom shelf for teen readers (or middle grade too).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mads

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

  23. 5 out of 5

    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. 

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    I've never really had much of an interest in Joan of Arc. I knew who she was, of course, and what she had done, thanks to a hand-me-down Classic Illustrated Comics collection. And I did go see Saint Joan with Condola Rashad on Broadway, which was excellent. But that was basically it...until I read Voices. WOW! Here was a book that blew me away from the first poem to the last. In Voices: the Final Hours of Joan of Arc, David Elliott offers readers an amazing perspective on the life and final momen I've never really had much of an interest in Joan of Arc. I knew who she was, of course, and what she had done, thanks to a hand-me-down Classic Illustrated Comics collection. And I did go see Saint Joan with Condola Rashad on Broadway, which was excellent. But that was basically it...until I read Voices. WOW! Here was a book that blew me away from the first poem to the last. In Voices: the Final Hours of Joan of Arc, David Elliott offers readers an amazing perspective on the life and final moments of this courageous young woman (she was, after all, still a teenager when she died). In well-crafted and carefully constructed, often visceral poems, Elliott begins Joan's story at the end of her life, as she is tied to a stake, about to be burned alive as a traitor. He then recreates Joan's life, beginning with her visions through to her military triumph of restoring Charles VIII to power, his ultimate betrayal of her, her subsequent trials, and finally, her execution. Throughout this fictionalized biography in verse, Elliott has carefully and consciously chosen the voices who gets to tell her story besides Joan herself. The poems are amazing. The language is affective without being sentimental. There is energy in Elliott's choice of line breaks, coming at just the right time to maintain the lyricism and musicality of each poem - in other words, the lines are neither too long nor too short. The imagery that each of the poems creates is clear and fresh; there is a specificity of detail in each poem, and provides the reader with imaginative sensory details without being overwhelming. And Elliott created these images that tell Joan's story using a variety of poetic forms, some dating back to the medieval period, along with a diversity of voices besides Joan. Some of these voices include that of Charles VIII, her father, even personification of objects close to Joan, including her sword, her armor, the crossbow that wounded her and the fire that is so lovingly consuming her. Elliott has also made effective use of direct prose quotes from the transcripts of Joan's trials. He has creatively recounted the life of Joan of Arc in a somewhat three dimensional sense, not an easy accomplishment in a book, allowing the reader to look at all sides of Joan's story and to draw their own conclusions as to her guilt or innocence. And Elliot does all this while interrogating ideas about Joan's gender identity, her class, her decision to be a knight instead of a peasant girl remaining on the family farm until she marries, as well as her innocence in view of the politics of the time and the reason for the guilty verdict at her trial. Elliott has taken a medieval heroine, caught up in the politics of her day, and brought her into the 21st century where her story will definitely resonate with today's readers. Small wonder that Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc won the Claudia Lewis Award for poetry awarded by the Bank Street Children's Book Committee. Sadly, the Coronavirus meant canceling our awards ceremony this year. However, David Elliott was kind enough to send us a video recording, which you can also see HERE This book is recommended for readers age 13+ This book was an ARC gratefully received from publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Brinkman

    Who was Joan of Arc? Joan of Arc was a young woman of France who fought for what she believed in. Like many, I have always thought that Joan of Arc has been an interesting woman to look up to for her strength and determination. Other than what the children's books at the library had to offer and a Wishbone episode, it has been a struggle to find out anything about her. Voices is a great overview of Joan of Arc. Told in verse, this is one of the most unique historical fictions I have ever read. The Who was Joan of Arc? Joan of Arc was a young woman of France who fought for what she believed in. Like many, I have always thought that Joan of Arc has been an interesting woman to look up to for her strength and determination. Other than what the children's books at the library had to offer and a Wishbone episode, it has been a struggle to find out anything about her. Voices is a great overview of Joan of Arc. Told in verse, this is one of the most unique historical fictions I have ever read. The unique shapes and placing of this poetry made Voices an extremely quick read. It was interesting to flip the pages and see what format would be there to read in. What was more interesting perhaps, was the perspectives. While reading about Joan from her own point of view, also given the opportunity to learn about her from personified objects and other people that witnessed her greatness. I was torn about this though because on the one hand I absolutely loved the uniqueness of this book, but on the other hand the waste of pages with just one word on them made me cringe. Voices was was a short read but it hacked so much of a punch. Not only was there an overview of Joan, but I felt like I connected to her on a personal level. When she experienced triumphs, to when people failed her , it was like I was right there. I do want to point out that I think this is just an overview of her character and not a completely accurate history. For example, do we really know weather Joan wasn't comfortable in women's clothes as well as men's clothes? There are other things that I was questioning as well. Voices was however a great depiction of what it's like to be a strong woman and a man centric world. Voices was a great way to break into both poetry and learn of a great woman of history.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Voices is a novel in verse about the famous Joan of Arc. Poems guide us through her life- from her first visions, to when she led armies to drive the English out of France in the name of King Charles VII, to when she was betrayed by the nobility who feared her influence and finally to her death in 1431. We get many POV's as Joan, her mother and father, King Charles, Bishop Cauchon and Saint Michael share their perspectives of what they are thinking during Joan's short life. These fictionalized t Voices is a novel in verse about the famous Joan of Arc. Poems guide us through her life- from her first visions, to when she led armies to drive the English out of France in the name of King Charles VII, to when she was betrayed by the nobility who feared her influence and finally to her death in 1431. We get many POV's as Joan, her mother and father, King Charles, Bishop Cauchon and Saint Michael share their perspectives of what they are thinking during Joan's short life. These fictionalized thoughts are interspersed with actual interviews with people Joan knew that gave statements during her trial, and that gives weight to how the author interpreted her life. What didn't work for me are the "thoughts" of inanimate objects such as her dress, her cloak, her sword and her armor, with the repeated fire poems being the most affected. I did appreciate the author's note at the end that gave information about the type of medieval poems he tried to emulate. I would hope that no matter if this poetic novel is to your liking or not, readers will research more about the saintly Joan and the different types of poems that Elliott utilized to tell the narrative.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Moon

    I enjoyed this more than I expected. The poetry made more sense to me as it had a story to tell, and it is based on Medieval types of poetry which apparently match some types of poetry in Spanish (I don't understand poetry in English all the time). And of course, my child heart that used to play Age of Empires II, knew how to pronounce all the places and surprisingly to myself, a lot of the story and characters. It felt like coming to a meeting fo The fire poems are in some way my favourite but I enjoyed this more than I expected. The poetry made more sense to me as it had a story to tell, and it is based on Medieval types of poetry which apparently match some types of poetry in Spanish (I don't understand poetry in English all the time). And of course, my child heart that used to play Age of Empires II, knew how to pronounce all the places and surprisingly to myself, a lot of the story and characters. It felt like coming to a meeting fo The fire poems are in some way my favourite but it is really intriguing and the form of the poems is also interesting. It contains excerpts from the surviving records of the Trials, and it isn't a "prose" long story about Joan. This is a "I am looking back on my life and why I am here" as she is trialled and sentenced to die at the stake, condemned like a witch.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    I found this unexpectedly in a sale at B&N, and I picked it up because I've been interested in Joan of Arc since high school. I'm really glad I did. It was a wonderful reading experience. The language is lovely and the story inspiring, so much so that I had to force myself to slow down so I could savor the read. Some poems are from Joan's perspective, some are from people she knows like her mother and father, and some are from the perspective of inanimate objects that become important in her life I found this unexpectedly in a sale at B&N, and I picked it up because I've been interested in Joan of Arc since high school. I'm really glad I did. It was a wonderful reading experience. The language is lovely and the story inspiring, so much so that I had to force myself to slow down so I could savor the read. Some poems are from Joan's perspective, some are from people she knows like her mother and father, and some are from the perspective of inanimate objects that become important in her life--her sword, her banner, the tower she's confined in, even her hair. It was a really unique way to look at and tell a well-known story. It's also very visual. Some of the poems are set in designs that resemble the object that's "speaking," like a sword or a crown. Kudos to both the author and the book designer, Sharismar Rodriguez. It really is a beautiful book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    R. G. Nairam

    Expertly written, though oddly I found Joan's poems some of the least interesting. It was really fascinating to learn in the author's note that Elliott was using medieval verse forms for almost all the poems, which made me appreciate them more. Modern sensibilities and moralities creep in at points, mostly in relation to the church and the Saints Joan said she heard, though on the whole it treats Joan herself with dignity.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ksandra

    5/5 Stars Joan of Arc has always been one of my favorite historical figures. And I believe this small novel was able to voice her history so well. I especially loved that it was poetic and focused on some aspects of her history that some wouldn't consider. It was lyrical and easy to read.

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