Books: Joans of Arc


by THOMAS KENEALLY 384 pages. Viking. $8.95.

The original legend of Joan of Arc was all ethereal voices and uprolled eyes. George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan suffered from an opposite flaw: a 15th century French farm girl with 19th century English socialist leanings, she seemed all pragmatism and muddy boots.

Between this Joan-too-spiritual and that Joan-too-earthy, a third Joan has been waiting to be born. In his eighth novel, Australian Thomas Keneally, who once studied for the priesthood, slowly and thoughtfully reconstructs a whole Joan, less spectacular than the first two but decidedly more convincing and perhaps, at last, more...

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