The 100th anniversary of Mark Twain’s death is being commemorated in Oak Park, Forest Park and River Forest during the month of October. Twain has always been a favorite of mine, but I had never heard of The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, an historical novel. The novel is a huge departure from what generally comes to mind when a reader thinks of Twain. In fact, Twain realized this too and published it under another pen name, fearing that his usual audience would be disappointed. 

The book examines Joan’s life and death and presents an almost mystical world in which God comes down firmly on the side of the French in the Hundred Year’s War. There are some humorous incidents in the book that reminded me of a few scenes in Huckleberry Finn, but it generally concerns itself with the astonishing character of Joan and the perfidy and treachery of the French King, the English and the Catholic Church. Twain admired Joan immensely.

It’s definitely worth a read, especially if you like history or Mark Twain’s storytelling. There will be a discussion of the book at Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore on October 20 at 7 PM.

Besides book discussions and lectures, the month-long celebration includes a wine tasting at House Red, a frog jumping contest at the Forest Park Library and games of yesteryear at the Oak Park Library. A complete calendar of events is available at

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Helen Kossler loves reading aloud to her grandchildren and is not ashamed to admit that she almost always likes the book better than the movie. She has been buying, borrowing, begging and stealing (well—not...

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