Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
A Novel

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Synopsis

"Engaging . . . Pope Joan has all the elements: love, sex, violence, duplicity, and long-buried secrets."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review

For a thousand years men have denied her existence--Pope Joan, the woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to rule Christianity for two years. Now this compelling novel animates the legend with a portrait of an unforgettable woman who struggles against  restrictions her soul cannot accept.

When her older brother dies in a Viking attack, the brilliant young Joan assumes his identity and enters a Benedictine monastery where, as  Brother John Anglicus, she distinguishes herself as a scholar and healer. Eventually drawn to Rome, she soon becomes enmeshed in a dangerous mix of powerful passion and explosive politics that threatens her life even as it elevates her to the highest throne in the Western world.

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


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Donna Woolfolk Cross

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DONNA WOOLFOLK CROSS lives in upstate, New York. Visit her online at PopeJoan.com.
 
Published May 29, 2009 by Broadway Books. 434 pages
Genres: History, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
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Unrated Critic Reviews for Pope Joan

Kirkus Reviews

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When Sergius dies, and intrigue leads to the poisoning of his successor, Joan is elected Pope as the people's choice.

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Publishers Weekly

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Joan is always central to the vivid action as she wars with the two sides of herself, ""mind and heart, faith and doubt, will and desire."" Ultimately, though she leads a man's life, Joan dies a woman's death, losing her life in childbirth.

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Examiner

One critic writes, “I was hooked from the very first page of this novel as I journeyed through Joan's life with her and I was alternately shocked and amazed at the life she led.” I highly recommend this book as I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jul 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Pope Joan: A Novel

Suite 101

Madeline Miller is a classical scholar, a teacher of Latin and Greek, who has brought Homer's heroes and their mythological contemporaries into our lives.

Jan 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Pope Joan: A Novel

Historical Novel Society

Gifted with a thirst for knowledge and the ability to reason, Joan soon learns these traits are of little use to a young girl of the ninth century.

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Lit Lovers

After a savage attack by Norsemen destroys the village, Joan adopts the identity of her older brother, slain in the raid, and makes her way to Fulda, to become the learned scholar and healer Brother John Anglicus.

Jun 16 2015 | Read Full Review of Pope Joan: A Novel

Peeking Between the Pages

July 31, 2009.

Jul 31 2009 | Read Full Review of Pope Joan: A Novel

Time Out New York

Based on a legend about a woman who became Pope in the 9th century in the guise of a man, and who was torn apart by an angry crowd when her deception was discovered, this was stripped here of the contemporary frame (shown in America) in which Joan reappears as a modern lass who believes herself t...

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Medieval Bookworm

As a child, Joan is beaten for her brilliance and love of books.

Jul 22 2009 | Read Full Review of Pope Joan: A Novel

The Celebrity Cafe

A Greek teacher recognized her intelligence and refused to teach Joan's brother John unless Joan was included, and this pattern continued until fate offered her a chance to change things by assuming her brother's name and gender.

Jun 28 2013 | Read Full Review of Pope Joan: A Novel

Kepler's

Whether you believe there was a female Pope or not, this is a wonderful story of a brilliant young woman who is determined to learn at all costs.

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Buffalo Rising

Because of her gender, central character Joan is not allowed to learn to read.

Jan 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Pope Joan: A Novel

Variety

The legendary tale of how an in travesto woman briefly became pope during the ninth century gets a disappointingly dull workout in "Pope Joan."

Nov 11 2009 | Read Full Review of Pope Joan: A Novel

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Arianna Snow 5 Sep 2013

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