Tuesday, August 11, 2009

46. POPE JOAN - Donna Woolfolk Cross


Ah, the legends and "what ifs" of a female pope was exactly what I needed to clear my head of work (both teaching and writing).

Many have heard of Pope Joan, also known as Pope John Anglicus, whose two-year reign in the ninth century has virtually disappeared from modern history. In this account, Joan, a wicked-smahrt lass is discouraged from studies. When her brother is killed during a Viking attack, she chops off her hair, dons the clothes, and becomes "John."

Her quick wit and mastery of logic bring her notice, as does her ability to heal others with herbal remedies. After Pope Gregory is healed by John/Joan, the path to greater power is revealed.

The author combined some of the legends to create her own ending, but in the afterword she discusses her meticulous research. Even for doubters, this is an interesting historical read. Of course, the essence of romance is thrown in to stir the pot a bit more, but I think the rest of the stew is tasty enough without it.

3.75 out of 5.0 Sneaky Cassies.

5 comments:

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

thanks for bringing this book to my knowledge. I love your blog.

Stefania said...

I've never heard of her, but it sounds weird enough to stir my attention.
PS: Good luck with "The Namesake", is it your first Lahiri's book?

Kristin Dodge said...

Thanks Nana... and welcome!

Stefania, it is my first Lahiri book, and I am struggling a bit. A year can pass in a paragraph, or a dinner in twenty pages. I don't know how I feel about it yet.

Lesley said...

I read this a couple years back for a book club I was in, and we spoke to the author by phone. It was quite an interesting book for me, too - I'd never heard of Pope Joan before then.

Kristin Dodge said...

Lesley... you lucky woman! I would love to discuss this book with the author.