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Pope Joan: A Novel (1996)

by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,3451152,695 (3.89)131
Denied the priesthood by society's rules, young Joan seizes her opportunity to join a monastery when she assumes her murdered brother's identity and takes the name John Anglicus. Putting her brilliant mind to good use, she excels as a scholar and healer. Joan eventually finds her way to Rome, where the lures of passion and politics threaten to expose her secret. But Joan rises above even these obstacles to achieve the pinnacle of Catholic power--the Papacy.… (more)
  1. 40
    Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (meggyweg)
  2. 20
    A Golden Web by Barbara Quick (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both are stories that weave around the few bare bones facts known about women who allegedly made great contributions while disguised as men. The themes of the importance of education are similar - as is the controversy surrounding whether they actually existed. A Golden Web is about a female anatomist who made a remarkable discovery, Pope Joan about the alleged female pope.… (more)
  3. 10
    The Legend of Pope Joan: In Search of the Truth by Peter Stanford (amyblue)
  4. 10
    Pope Joan by Emmanuel Royidis (myshelves)
  5. 00
    Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell (BookshelfMonstrosity)

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» See also 131 mentions

English (101)  Swedish (3)  Dutch (2)  Lithuanian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  German (2)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (114)
Showing 1-5 of 101 (next | show all)
Pope Joan is a 1996 novel by American writer Donna Woolfolk Cross. It is based on the medieval legend of Pope Joan. For the most part this novel is the story of a young woman, whose desire to gain more knowledge compels her to dress up as a man, who eventually rises to become the pope.
  StFrancisofAssisi | Mar 12, 2020 |
Well researched, rich with historical detail, and a highly enjoyable read. ( )
  Sarah_Angleton | Aug 16, 2019 |
Fascinating. Was there a female Pope? Contemporary records have supposedly been obliterated, and there is only an account written some time after the event, which took place 853-855 AD.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It is easy to read and I finished in less than a week. I do have an issue with some of the events in this novel; there were too many timely and nearly miraculous "saves" for the main character. I understand there truly isn't very much to go on,in describing Joan's life. For me it just felt a bit too false. Despite this I was able to enjoy myself with this novel.
( )
  a1stitcher | Jun 22, 2019 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Aug 2009):
- To get the positives out of the way: This story, despite relative length, had a steadily unfolding pace to it. The author seems to have invested much in making this an entertainment.
- However, I had several issues with this novel, my two major ones being:
1. One of the major threads is a stewing romance. Just not my thing.
2. Far! Far! too many contrivances...here. The all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipresent characterization of Joan is a huge put-off for me. Her ability to cure the sick, see through walls, arise from a dungeon as if a siesta, were borderline comic book heroics. Which is fine for comic books.
- I have other gripes,...the plastic personages of historic characters; and my quick realization that I have zero interest in 9th century papal intrigue. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Sep 4, 2018 |
I was completely unaware of the legend of Pope Joan, not to mention the evidence that she was more than just a legend, when I picked up this book. I quickly got into it and enjoyed reading it. I find it interesting that there were certain aspects/difficulties of a woman disguising herself as a man while surrounded by so many people that I didn't even think about until after I finished the book. I did find that the characters were a little stereotyped - they seemed to either be good (kind, educated) or bad (unkind, uneducated). But this was a creative take on the idea of a female pope that we know nothing about, so in all cases it is notunexpected that the author will take creative license with certain aspects. Overall I enjoyed the book.
  GretchenLynn | Feb 5, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 101 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Donna Woolfolk Crossprimary authorall editionscalculated
Neuhaus, WolfgangTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For my father,William Woolfolk
and there are no words to add
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It was the twenty-eighth day of Wintarmanoth in the year of our Lord 814, the harshest winter in living memory.
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