St Joan Of Arc by V Sackville-West

What student of English literature hasn’t felt the slightest prurient interest in the personal lives of the Bloomsbury group? My fascination with Vita Sackville-West stems, of course, from her role as muse to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, but I found her own novel, All Passion Spent, to be tedious rather than reflective. But here in this biography of St Joan of Arc, one sees clearly Ms Sackville-West’s genius, in presenting with clarity and sympathy — though not unduly so except at times, I felt, with Cauchon — the known facts and reasonable suppositions that can be drawn therefrom of the life of one of the most remarkable women to ever live. The only failing of the book is hardly the fault of the author, in that the medical and psychological advancements of her time would not be able to advance other theories of Joan that have come since to supplant or support some of those Ms Sackville-West discusses. Overall, though, this is an excellent biography of a controversial figure, well-researched and -written, intelligent and illuminating and, above all, interesting from start to end.

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