Review: Voices by David Elliott
This is one of the most unusual books I’ve had the pleasure to read in a very long time. The tale of Joan Arc, hero and martyr, is one I’ve heard only in children’s history books a very long time ago. I’ve studied History at university for four years, including a smattering of French history, but never encountered The Maid. I have a sense that this verse novel might set young people on a course of discovery, learning more about the past and the women who inhabited that faraway place.
In Voices, we follow Joan in her final hours before her execution, as she narrates her journey from countryside maid to heroine (and back down towards her doom). There are interjections from the king and also poems from the perspective of her sword and other vital objects. Some of these additional poems felt a little gratuitous, but overall they added rather than detracted from her story.
The writing was beautiful and I found myself bookmarking many passages within the short book to re-read later. If this had been a paper copy I would have found myself highlighting and folding over pages too.
From an academic perspective, one of the most impressive aspects of this book was something I only encountered upon reading David Elliott’s author’s note at the close of the book. I had no idea that the poetic forms mirrored those that were actually in use in medieval France and can imagine that was quite tricky to execute.
This short, but perfectly formed, poetic exploration of the Joan of Arc will be published in March 2019. Check it out!
Thanks to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group and David Elliott for the opportunity to read this book.