Blood Red, Sister Rose
"Blood Red, Sister Rose is the story of Joan of Arc - Jehannette - a story that has often been told but perhaps never with such immediacy and drama. It is based upon much study of the hard facts of history: dates, places, births, battles, violent deaths. But in the interpretation that bridges these facts we see a Joan we have never met before: a tough radical, an instinctive soldier in the manner of Lawrence of Arabia, a nagging prophet, a vulnerable girl. There are parallels with our own age, for Joan was opposed by decaying institutions and surrounded by a war between the powers which had turned France, over a period of 100 years, into a 'hectic graveyard'.
"Thomas Keneally has captured with astonishing vividness the taste, the smell, the texture of the fifteenth century. The phlegmatic earth-bound peasant, his blank fatalism shot through with a terrified awareness of the hell-fire; sly, pathetic dauphin Charles, with his mad father imprisoned in the Louvre and witch-whore mother; Jean de Metz, coarse, lecherous, protective, loving; and, above all, Joan herself, the 'little she-soldier', tormented saint, obstinate simpleton, possessed by a power too great for any human frame to support - they live with a vitality so astonishing that it is impossible not to believe that this is how they were. Thomas Keneally's new book is a remarkable achievement; an imaginative recreation of one of history's most affecting passages, told with passion, vigour and total authenticity."
When Charles was seven he lived in his own suite of apartments at the Hotel Barbette in the capital. His mother lived on other floors of the Barbette and sometimes visited him. Since she would bring with her a leopard on a leash or a baboon with smelly breath, Charles never liked her visits.
His mind was already subject to priest tutors, Dominican theologians from the University of Paris. They began to teach him that he would be king under God, that France and the Pope were consanguineous through God.
From the Collins hardback edition, 1974.
This page and its contents are copyright © 1998-2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Thomas Keneally page.
Last modified: March 26, 2001.