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.