Saturday, March 29, 2014

Book Review: Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

A Female Pope? Who Knew!

I started this book without any expectations but may have assumed in the beginning that this was a book about Joan of Arc. However, I was surprised to learn that this account of a girl who disguises herself as a man and eventually becomes Pope may indeed be based on a historic figure.

Joan is the third child and only daughter to a strict English father and a Saxon woman. Religion plays an important part in Joan's early life as her father is a canon and focuses on grooming his eldest son to be a religious scholar. Joan is destined for a life of abuse but demonstrates early on that she has a thirst for learning. She learns how to read and write and finds ways to continue learning. Eventually she ends up in a school as the only girl and has to face a new set of challenges.

That Joan ends up the Pope is a fascinating tale even if it is historical fiction and may or may not be true. This is a wonderful story that brings the Dark Ages to the forefront and really exposes the way women were treated and the fears and superstitions of the religious community.

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