Pope Joan

Pope Joan by - Donna Woolfolk Cross - 442 pages
Book Blurb:
For a thousand years her existence has been denied. She is the legend that will not die–Pope Joan, the ninth-century woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only female ever to sit on the throne of St. Peter. Now in this riveting novel, Donna Woolfolk Cross paints a sweeping portrait of an unforgettable heroine who struggles against restrictions her soul cannot accept.
Brilliant and talented, young Joan rebels against medieval social strictures forbidding women to learn. When her brother is brutally killed during a Viking attack, Joan takes up his cloak–and his identity–and enters the monastery of Fulda. As Brother John Anglicus, Joan distinguishes herself as a great scholar and healer. Eventually, she is drawn to Rome, where she becomes enmeshed in a dangerous web of love, passion, and politics. Triumphing over appalling odds, she finally attains the highest office in Christendom–wielding a power greater than any woman before or since. But such power always comes at a price . . .
In this international bestseller, Cross brings the Dark Ages to life in all their brutal splendor and shares the dramatic story of a woman whose strength of vision led her to defy the social restrictions of her day
My Review: 4.5 stars
I started reading this for book club and had no idea as to the subject matter. Even though it is titled Pope Joan, in my mind, I assumed this was a historical fiction account of Joan of Arc. Boy did I get my Joans confused! I loved this book and learned so much.. Little did I know about the mysterious Pope Joan and the staggering question of her existence based on, “Who you ask!”
This story starts when Joan is young and has the burning quest to be educated. She finds someone who will teach her and of course eavesdrops on her brother’s lessons. Eventually when her brother is killed, she takes on his name and eventually rises to Pope. It’s an interesting take on history and the possibility that she did in fact exist. Additionally, this is a quick page turner which I suspected it wouldn’t be. The people, politics and religion were all written in a clear and interesting way so that any reader can enjoy this story. Reminiscent of Shield of Three Lions by Pamela Kaufman. Apparently film rights have been purchased for this book.
Tags: Historical Fiction, Christianity, Favorites, Book Club, 2008, Other Religions

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