I've always wondered about the life of Joan of Arc. I didn't know anything about her except that she was a teenage girl who somehow became a soldier, had short hair and somehow did something so wrong that the powers that be saw fit to have her burned at the stake. I've never watched a movie or a play of her life although there have been scads of them made since her death in the 1400's to now. Some have been historically accurate and some not, choosing instead to go for the dramatic rather than historical truth.
Donald Spoto has taken the life of Joan and totally researched it to the the available historical accounts and written a beautiful story that is far from factually dry and reads almost like a novel. It is an account going right back into Joan's younger days growing up on a farm in France, to the political problems of the Hundred Years' War between Enland and France, to the voices and vision from God, to directing soldiers and the crowning of a King. It delves into the human condition of the craving of power and letting nothing, not even a teenage girl, stand in the way, to religous corruption of the time.
I was totally moved by this book. Spoto has written so well that while he draws from the historical documents of the time you are taken with emotion as you start to understand where Joan was coming from and what drove her. Her love of God and doing His will was her foremost motivation and you feel her struggle to fit in in a rough world of soldiers and adults manouvering for political power. My heart pounded as Spoto took us day by day through her trial and the hardships she endured and I cried at her horrible outcome and the cruelness of humanity. I laid the book down and couldn't pick up another for a few days.
The book served the purpose to question my own walk of faith. Here was a teenager who stood for her faith and what she knew God was telling her to do in the face of insurmountable odds and accusations and stood until her death. Would I, could I ever do the same in similar circumstances? There was much emotions and thoughts to sort through when I finished the book. I found the book breathtaking, gripping and convicting and would very much read it again. An ovation to Spoto for taking an important historical character and remaining true to historical accuaracy while bringing the heart and emotion of Joan of Arc to today's reader.