Rating: 2.5 Stars
It took all I had to finish this one. I should have paid more attention to the subtitle of 'A History'. While I am terribly interesting in reading all I can about Joan of Arc, I have found I do not care one iota about the history of France - even in regards to the Hundred Years' War, which features one of the countries I love learning about so much, England. I was looking for another biography about Joan, and sadly, only a portion of this book is actually about Joan.
That's not to say this is a bad book. It is just not what I was looking for. Now, as I don't find the history of France my particular cup of tea, it was difficult for me to get through the sections pertaining to the war before Joan made her appearance. It is obvious though that Castor has done her research. This is not a hastily put together piece of work. Unfortunately, it is a very dry one. I simply could not get my interested in the 'Before' section, no matter how I tried, and I ended up skimming much of that section, so ready was I to read about Joan herself. The second section was most interesting to me, as it was directly about Joan and her mission, while section three dealt with 'After', meaning after her execution.
I understand what the author was doing, in writing a history and not a straight biography. To understand Joan is to understand the time in which she lived. The war itself was just not interesting to me, as I don't generally care to read military history - medieval or otherwise. And as I mentioned, the writing is quite dry and it was hard to remain interested in the book despite my great interest in Joan. As long as you go in knowing that Joan will not make an appearance for several chapters, and look at this as a history of this select time period, perhaps you will enjoy it more than I did.