Title: Pope Joan
Author: Donna Cross
Summary: 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.
Why I Loved It: I think I read this around the same time as The Red Tent. And again I am seeing a pattern emerge as to how to make it onto my 5 star list. Historical Fiction is one way.
Who would like this: History buffs, people who read stories about strong women, people interested in church history.
“Surely you know, Holiness, that the size of a woman’s brain and her uterus are inversely proportionate; therefore, the more a girl learns, the less likely she will ever bear children.”
The incongruity of the sacred altar and its pagan base seemed to Joan a perfect symbol of herself: a Christian priest, she still dreamed of her mother’s heathen gods; a man in the eyes of the world, she was tormented by her secret woman’s heart; a seeker of faith, she was torn between her desire to know God and her fear that He might not exist. Mind and heart, faith and doubt, will and desire. Would the painful contradictions of her nature ever be reconciled?