Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review Discussion: Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Book: Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: book club
From: bought on Kindle

Short Synopsis: Joan lives in the 800s during a time when it's majorly frowned upon for girls to learn. But all she wants to do is learn. Read, and write and learn. She manages to get accepted to a school and seems to be overcoming the problems with being a girl in school when one day, tragedy strikes. In the spur of the moment, she decides to "become" her brother which lets her into many doors previously closed to her. She rises through the ranks, and as the title suggests (so I don't think it's too much of a spoiler!) she ends up as Pope!

My Response: This was the second time I've read this book. I read it back years ago when it first had some buzz (which was also WAY before blogging thus I decided to add a review here!) and loved it. Sadly, I didn't love it quite as much this second go around. Why? Because wow, but there were a lot of slow boring parts! And so much shop talk that I totally didn't understand even given context. Dang, but have I gotten stupid over the years or what? That being said, I still love the story and am fascinated by the fact that there is much speculation and some pretty good evidence that this actually happened. How cool is that? If you do read this book, don't skip the author's note at the end. Just sayin'.

Bottom Line: A very interesting take on what might have happened if there had really been a woman pope.

Let's Talk About: So, do you care how much of stories such as this are based on truth or not? Does it matter to you? Or do you just enjoy the story for what it is...a story? How do you like your historical fiction?

Other Reviews:

Do I think Joan really existed? I don't know. It is interesting to think about though. There are some substantial things to support that there was a female Pope, but it still makes me wonder. From Kami's Library Thoughts

Simply put, the book was compelling and I did like it. I just didn’t love it. I would, however, give Cross another chance and read another one of her books. From Jenni Elyse

Full of twists and turns, and a bit of romance, Pope Joan will have you wondering if there ever really was woman who sat on the Papal throne. From Attack of the Books

I really enjoyed learning more about this time period. The utter brutality and injustice toward women that was described made me so mad, the corruption and politics discussed were very interesting, and the love story is heartfelt. From Good Clean Reads


  1. This review is a bit delayed. I like stories. I like reading. If it is true, I think of it differently, but overall I'd say it doesn't matter.

  2. I'm not really big on historical fiction. I much prefer it when an author uses history to jumpstart an idea from which she or he then creates a whole new world.

  3. This is one I've often wanted to reread. Maybe this will be the year! Though, I'm scared I won't like it now. lol

    1. Andi: I bet we read this together back in the day... The Book Spot Yahoo Group! :)

  4. This sounds really interesting! I do like my historical fiction to be clear about which parts are factual. It's nice to learn something as well as reading a good story :)



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