Pope Joan

Pope Joan

A Novel

Book - 2009
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" Pope Joan  has all the elements one wants in a historical drama - love, sex, violence, duplicity, and long-buried secrets. Cross has written an engaging book." -Los Angeles Times Book Review

In this international bestseller and basis for the 2009 movie of the same name , Donna Woolfolk 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.

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, 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 . . . 

"Brings the savage ninth century vividly to life in all its alien richness. An enthralling, scholarly historical novel."
--Rebecca Fraser, Author of The Bront#65533;s

Publisher: New York : Broadway Paperbacks, 2009.
ISBN: 9780307452368
Branch Call Number: CRO
Characteristics: 425 p.


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Jul 17, 2017

Absolutely gripping. While it is a "fictional account", the amount of research that went into this book is astonishing. Great for anyone who has an interest in historical fiction!

Apr 25, 2016

Plausible, clever piece of fiction. Well written -hard to put down once started.

Jan 23, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was recommended to my by a friend. It's a pretty quick read, and I found myself quickly engaged in the story.

Mar 05, 2014

Was Pope John VIII the actual Pope Joan? Regardless this is an entertaining read. I enjoyed the story of life in the dark ages. I also enjoy stories with strong women characters and this fits the bill. I especially enjoyed the authors notes and her research and thoughts for the story arch which worked well for me. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction might enjoy this book.

hania4987 Jul 12, 2013

This was definitely not a comfortable read. The first part describing her early life at home, then subsequent schooling which was unusual for that time was interesting. After assuming her brother's identity, the story just turns "icky". Her actions did not comport with her role as a spiritual leader nor was she an effective political one. I don't know if this is supposed to be an ultra-feminist condemnation of a patriarchal society including the Church. (?) I'm just left wondering what was the point of the book.

WVMLStaffPicks Jun 09, 2013

This action-packed novel chronicles the life of the alleged female pope that some believe reigned for a few years during the Middle Ages. Whether you consider the character of Pope Joan fact or fiction, this story of a brave and strong-willed woman struggling against the restrictions of her time may appeal to you if you enjoy Vatican intrigue and are not put off by the brutality of the Dark Ages.

Nov 30, 2012

Was she legend or a hidden part of history? This was a compelling story with a strong inspiring main character.

Sep 04, 2012

An intriguing historical read! A little historical note at the end of the book to site why a female pope might have been possible during this time in history.

Jun 05, 2012

Comparing two novels about legendary Pope Joan, Lawrence Durrell's adaption of the 19th c. Greek novel, and a modern one by Donna Woolfolk Cross, I found neither very satisfactory. The Greek version, though satirical and irreverent in places, is mostly dry and boring; the modern version, admittedly well researched, uses too much gore and blood to rack up sales...
I found the insertion of antiquated vocabulary in this book annoying, not because I couldn't understand it, but because the intention ("Let's give this medieval coloring") is too obvious.

gracindaisy May 03, 2012

Set in the Middle Ages, a woman follows her burning desire to read, educates herself as a scholar & healer, and rises through the church to become Pope, all the while disguised as a man.

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