I received Light in the Dark Ages: The Friendship of Francis and Clare of Assisi by Jon M. Sweeney for review from Paraclete Press. If you do a lot of reading of Catholic books you are sure to come across multiple readings of the life of St. Francis and sometimes St. Clare. Especially since after Jesus, St. Francis is the subject of the most books.
I found though that this book gave me a fresh look at the life of St. Francis and his friendship with St. Claire. Unfortunately there is very little historical information to go on concerning their friendship and what documents we have to go by concentrated on St. Francis. Regardless of these limitations gives you a good idea of how St. Francis inspired St. Clair and how her life really lived out his ideals.
The book is not a straight serial biographical account of these two saints but various chapters addresses various themes. Though you do end up with a very good look at their lives and the world they lived in. The historical context is very important when considering these two saints and it only makes them shine the brighter considering the problems and the corruption within the Church at the time. It is always a good reminder that the Church is always need renewal and that it is only the saints that can truly bring about that renewal. But more importantly that we all need to respond to the Gospel as fully as St. Francis and St. Claire did.
I liked the balanced way these saints were covered in that the author tried to stay within what we know historically about their lives and to discern from some of the source material of books written after St. Francis’ death while also at the same time not taking to skeptical of attitude to some of the surviving stories. You get a very good idea of the struggles of the early Franciscans and the book also address the sad chapters in early Franciscan history of the "Spiritual Franciscans" and the aftermath of the order after first St. Francis dies and then much later St. Claire.
So if your looking for a solid book on the life of both St. Francis and St. Clair is can highly recommend this one.