Set in the 1500s during the Hundred Years War, the French city of Orléans is under siege – English soldiers tear through the countryside wreaking destruction on all those who cross their path, and Charles VII, the uncrowned king, has neither the strength nor the will to rally his troops. In a quiet garden in Domremy, a twelve-year-old peasant girl, Jehanne, hears a voice that will change her life – and the course of European history. This is the tale of Jehanne d’Arc, the saint and the warrior who believed that she had been chosen by God to save France, and who lead an army of 10,000 soldiers against the English.
I was initially really excited to read this novel as I have not come across many Historical Fiction novels based on Jehanne d’Arc and I have to say that I was honestly disappointed in this novel. The story itself was fine; however the writing irritated me beyond belief. I found the writing to be very amateur – it was full of fragment sentences and it was really choppy. I also had a problem with Cutter translating the terms of endearment that the Saints used when speaking with Jehanne. Throughout the novel Saint Catherine calls Jehanne “cabbage” which seems strange to most readers but in French a common term of endearment is “mon petit chou” which translates into “my little cabbage”. I also hated the super short chapters; it made me feel like the book was never going to end. I do have to give Cutter credit for her obvious dedication to research but sometimes it felt like she was trying to stick to the known facts of Jehanne’s life and there was little room for the ‘fiction’ part of the historical fiction genre – it’s almost like a fiction book written as if it were a non-fiction. The details about the battles were great and those parts of the story I thoroughly enjoyed. I had a hard time with Jehanne however – I’m not sure if she was ever fully developed as a character and I couldn’t connect with her. This was good effort from Cutter but unfortunately it doesn’t make my cut as a great novel, it would have been much better as a non-fiction piece.