Library Staff Review by Dawn Stanton
Set in the Dark Ages, this historical fiction title by Donna Woolfolk Cross, delivers mystery, romance and belief in the impossible.
Because of her gender, central character Joan is not allowed to learn to read. Her determination and unquenchable thirst for knowledge lead her to learn to read in secret. When opportunity arises, Joan disguises herself as a man to further her education. As the years progress, her gifts of fairness and compassion expand her notoriety, and she advances into the higher realms of religious leadership until (as the title reveals) she becomes a beloved Pope.
Author Donna Woolfolk Cross did seven years of research as she prepared to write Pope Joan. Although it remains a mystery whether Pope Joan was a real person in history or not, the Catholic Church continues to deny her existence. Some scholars believe that the Catholic Church eliminated many manuscripts that prove her validity, yet other religious sects do not doubt her reign. After reading this book, you will undoubtedly believe in her too!
Pope Joan is an enjoyable, rich tale of a true heroine whose unyielding devotion leads her to make self-sacrificing choices (the story also includes an unforgettable love interest – at least for this reader). The writing is vividly descriptive and contains intense, complex characters. Get cozy on a winter’s night, and journey back in time with Pope Joan.