Divine Heretic by Jamie Lee Moyer (book review).

January 21, 2021 | By | Reply More

Set against the backdrop of the Hundred Year War between England and France during the fifteenth century, this is a new take on the story of Jeanne D’arc. She was sent to be with the army against England at the Siege of Orleans, claiming to be guided by angels to support the French claimant to the French throne. She was eventually captured and executed by the English, being burned at the stake at the age of nineteen. She was made saint in the twentieth century.

‘Divine Heretic’ starts when Jeanne is small and is visited by manipulative would-be angels. We are never sure of their intent but she is sure they are evil and not the angels they claim to be. We would probably take them to be manipulative fairies that seek to make mischief for their own ends. At the time it is set, there was little divide between magic and Christianity, here the author Jamie Lee Moyer invites us to believe in her version of mysticism.

Her story obviously diverges a lot from the accepted biography but is an interesting tale of how she nevertheless, eventually ends up as the figurehead for the French Dauphin, creating allies and enemies along the path. She is always afraid and resentful of the ‘angels’ and is desperate to avoid being used to provoke more bloodshed. We are made acutely aware of how little power she has as a woman in medieval times where she would be viewed as a chattel in marriage with no free will. Despite everything they do, the ‘angels’ free her from being another blank space in history.

There is no attempt to make the dialogue of the period, not that I would know how this went. There are no ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ to worry about. This is a good adventure and historical romance story with a woman at the heart of it. It may frustrate you that it is not the real account of Jeanne but you can read that in the Ladybird published book. I get a little frustrated with real characters being use to make fiction but that’s the past for you, anyone is fair game.

At least with the Internet you can fact check as far as possible and enjoy the fantasy life that Jeanne might have lead. It does no harm to remind ourselves that in a thousand years we might be grateful to be remembered even if it is imperfectly.

Sue Davies

January 2021

(pub: Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus, 2020. 400 page enlarged paperback. Price: £13.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78747-924-1)

check out website: www.jofletcherbooks.com

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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