Reader reviews and comments on Pope Joan, plus links to write your own review.

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Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
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  • First Published:
    Aug 1996, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 1997, 432 pages

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There are currently 7 reader reviews for Pope Joan
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R (08/14/16)

So much sorrow!
This book made me regret reading it by chapter 6.
Bobo Loco (02/20/10)

Utter Speechlessness
When I think of the book "Pope Joan", written by the amazing writer Donna Cross, I am filled with awe and pride. I myself believe the book's contents to have historical accuracy. After having done some extensive research on the subject of a previous female pope, I have come to the conclusion that the character Pope Joan did exist. If not with the same name, definitely with the same courage, power, and cunning. This character has come to be one of my biggest heroines. And, I couldn't have come up with a better writer to have portrayed her greatness. I have recommended this book to countless of other friends. As is to be expected, every female reader that I have come across with has been absolutely fascinated with "Pope Joan." For the opposite sex, however, they seem to find the book to "dull" or "fictitious". Nevertheless, this book belongs in every shelf of a women who has a little self esteem.
A Bookshelf Monstrosity (12/18/09)

John, meet Joan...
I've always been a big fan of historical fiction and Pope Joan definitely delivers. I mean, a story about a female pope who might have existed? Bring it on!

Joan is a very strong character. She is brave and educated in an age that saw an educated woman as unnatural and sinful. She also has a vast knowledge of medieval medicine which comes in handy later in the novel. The plot is action-filled; this is a book that sucks you in and can't be put down until it is done. Author notes in the back of the book are very informative about the Dark Ages and the church in Joan's time. I became so interested in the period while reading this book that I found myself researching the legend of Pope Joan...researching for fun! What is that?

One of the themes of the book is the idea of inner conflict, especially in regards to religious upbringing. Joan is the child of a pagan mother and a strict Christian father. She constantly struggles between faith and doubt and between her mind and heart.

The novel raises plenty of questions about women in the church both in the Dark Ages and today and whether Pope Joan even existed in the first place. I highly recommend this book for all historical fiction fans and those who enjoy a novel with a strong female protagonist.
tumblewind (09/10/07)

Good history, poor writing
The possibility of an early female Pope is fascinating and well-supported in this well-researched novel. Unfortunately, while Cross provides richly-detailed insight into 9th century European life and Catholic politics, she is very weak in characterization and story.

I kept rolling my eyes at the cliches. Rather than showing characters through their actions, Cross would describe them for us using broad generalizations. One page had seven exclamation points in the dialogue from various church authorities. And how lame was it to have fortune-teller predict the fates of Joan and Gisla?

I felt like I was reading a second-rate romance novel interlaced with a rich historical nonfiction work. I would rather Cross had written a long magazine article about what her research had taught her about the possiblity of a female Pope.
Anonymous (07/10/03)

This story reads as though it could actually have been true.
And it keeps you interested the entire time because the woman
in the story could be any one of us, even now. Her determination
keeps the story on edge since you want to know what happens and how she is going to acheive it.
Very moving for me and I read alot of books. Some don't tell
as well of a story as this one.

Tina Nobile
Youngwood Pa
Eklektica (01/27/03)

An excellent book for a book discussion group. Lots of women's issues here and if you enjoy historical fiction this is perfect. Set in early medieval Europe and Italy the plot involves the legend of the first (and only) female pope. Did she really exist? A provocative question. The Catholic Church says no. What do you think?
GINNY (11/29/02)

I couldn't put this book down. Have recommended it to all my friends. A great read.
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