April 14, 2012

Review: The Maid and The Queen

The Maid and The Queen
Nancy Goldstone
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
 Rating: 3

I was not aware at the time I took this on for review that it was a non-fiction history book rather than a novelization of historical events. I normally don't take on biographies or other works of non-fiction for my blog, however I must say, throughout the course of the book, I became captivated with the story Goldstone so eloquently revealed in the pages of The Maid and The Queen. 

The book is split into three portions; Before Joan, Joan of Arc, and After Joan and chronicles the intertwined lives of Joan and Yolande of Aragon, Queen of Sicily. I was very interested to see just how Yolande of Aragon influenced Joan's journey and how Yolande in turn seemed to fade into the recesses of history. What I found was the much larger portrait of Joan's life and death that the small picture I already had fit into. The things I was taught about Joan through history teachers, documentaries, and films didn't even begin to cover what actually happened to this amazing girl. Goldstone manages to give readers the facts as objectively as possible while still staying respectful to Joan's religious beliefs and claims. While I would have expected a non-fiction book to attempt to explain away Joan's visions and voices as delusions or schizophrenia, The Maid and The Queen points out the events that were pushed along by Yolande of Aragon while gracefully allowing for Joan's piety. 

You must be wondering why I have given it only three stars after having enjoyed it so much. Although it is beautifully written, there are points within the book  that seem bogged down with political dealings and war strategy. While these details are important to the overall understanding of the events of the Hundred Years War, they dry up the lushly told history and slow down the read exponentially. A reader who is only looking for the tale of Joan of Arc would easily get frustrated fishing through the political intrigues, rivaling parties, and genealogies. That being said, I still enjoyed learning about these two strong women.

If you are a fan of non-fiction, Joan of Arc, and are interested in learning in depth about the Hundred Years War, I would recommend picking this one up. As a reader of mostly fiction, I enjoyed it very much and feel it has been a good introduction for me into reading more books like it.  

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