From the March, 2005 issue of Touchstone

The Power of Joan by Phillip E. Johnson

The Power of Joan

A few months ago, my wife’s book discussion group was reading Mark Twain’s neglected classic Joan of Arc. This novel purports to be the recollections of Sieur Louis de Conte, Joan’s playmate in childhood and later her secretary. Twain employs this fictional narrator skillfully to tie together Joan’s diverse lives with his personal recollections of all the events and characters.

Some readers will be in a hurry to get to the scenes of battle and court intrigue, but I lingered over charming episodes of village life, in which the illiterate farm child develops her skill at persuasion and begins to show her gift of prophecy. Soon enough the narrator goes on to the thrilling saga of the unlikely military hero . . .


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