Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
Okay, I'm going to admit something here (audible gasp!), I thought this book was about Joan of Arc when I first saw it. Sigh. So, imagine my confusion when I was about half way through and realized that it was NOT about her. It's about another possible historical figure, a woman named Joan, who disguised herself as a man and rose thru the papal ranks to become a female pope! Not that it mattered at all, other than my humility, I FRIGGEN LOVED IT!! Not like I kind of loved, or sort of loved, I mean the BIG LOVE. I have always loved historical fiction, and especially anything set in the middle ages (this is considered early middle ages in 800-ish). This is the kind of book I want my daughters to read when they are older. This is the kind of book that makes me realize, once again, how full of gratitude I am for the women who broke out of the mold and changed the world for us.
But this is fiction. Sort of.
See, the thing is, there is some evidence to support the idea that there was a female pope. But as in a very "Da Vinci Code" kind of way there is also evidence to show that the Catholic church may have covered up the fact by destroying evidence.
Either way, it is a darn good read and I personally could not put it down and read it in just a few days.
It starts with Joan's birth, and shows her mother as a pagan who is married to a religious zealot who is constantly trying to "save" her. Right from the beginning Joan has a constant spiritual battle raging inside her. Her incredible bond with her mother is rooted in the pagan beliefs she shares with her, but she also has been raised a Christian and feels loyal to that vein as well. Also right from the beginning we can see that Joan is different. She is not content just being a girl, and is constantly miffed as to why her brothers get to learn to read and write just because of their gender. This is a common theme through-out the book, as Joan is continually being road blocked by her sex, time and time again.
But boy does she ever fix their wagon.
I don't want to do a summary of the plot as I do not want to spoil it for anyone, but TRUST me when I say it is a FANTASTIC book that is full of intrigue, suspense, love (oh, love, the super swoony kind!), and action.
This was a loaner from the library, but I am actually going to buy it as I know I'll be re-reading this one for many more years to come.
HIGHLY recommend to anyone, man or woman!
For more about this fascinating book and author you can visit her website here.
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