Monday, September 13, 2010

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Genre: historical fiction
FTC Disclosure: bought from Barnes and Noble
Published: 1996
Pages: 448
Content: PG-13

This book is based on the myth of a woman pope who reigned for a few years in the early Middle Ages. Cross found what she could on this legendary character and weaved a beautiful story around her. What were her origins? How did she get her learning since females weren't allowed to learn much if anything? How did she rise to the position of the pope? These are many of the questions that she answers.

I loved reading about Joan. She's a strong female character, one that stands up against any age. She grows from a small girl who is abused by her horrible father and escapes with her learning, falls in love with her care taker, and eventually disguises herself as a man.

Cross really knows how to tell a story. I was enthralled and horrified from page one. The last 1/4 of the book slows down a bit, but that's to be expected.

The parts that really spoke to me were Joan's ability to think rationally as possible and sort through problems and come up with solutions, especially in a time so full of superstition. She had doubts about God and her faith and that was OK. The way she handles what life has to throw at her is something, I think, we can all aspire to.

Rating: 5/5


  1. I read Pope Joan a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. The very early scene with the midwife has stuck with me ever since.

  2. I'm not familiar with this story at all, so I'll have to keep an eye out for this book.

  3. Pope Joan sounds really interesting, thanks for the review.
    Oddly someone in my day job was talking about a female pope just the other day.

  4. I've heard of Pope Joan and this book sounds really good-I'm going to have to put it on my list of books to read!

  5. I have to read this! I've always wanted to learn more about Pope Joan.

  6. I've seen this one around but never really gave it much thought. I think, though, that you've talked me into putting it on the wish list!

  7. For some reason, the cover made me think it was about Joan of Arc, although I know she wasn't a pope. This book sounds absolutely fascinating. I will have to keep my eye out for it.


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