Review: Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Pope Joan
by Donna Woolfolk Cross


In the ninth century a woman rose to the highest seat in Rome, that of Pope.  The Church has since tried to erase her from history.  They should know, women don't go away quietly.  Donna Woolfolk Cross has given voice to this extraordinary woman, Joan of Ingelheim, later known as Pope John VIII.

Joan and two older brothers were raised by her father, a Canon of the local country church and her mother, a Saxon woman, brought back from one of her father's missionary trips. Joan's father was quite strict and especially hard with her.  He found her intelligence and thirst for knowledge unnatural, sinful and blasphemous.  Girls did not read and write.  However, Joan was not one to back down and still found ways to learn despite her father's wrath. 

When her brother is killed by Vikings, Joan assumes his identity and enters the monastery at Fulda as brother John Anglicus.  Disguised as a man, Joan is able to penetrate the world of men.  A bit like Caterina from Signora da Vinci (Robin Maxwell), but without the funnel!  Joan's travels carry her finally to Rome, where her healing skills and bright mind give her access into the Pope's inner circle.  As the frienship between Joan and the Pope grows, she soon finds that betrayal, deception and greed are to be found in even the holiest of places.

At heart, Pope Joan is a story of a woman.  A woman who fights for what she believes in, no matter the consequences.  A woman who loves God, yet questions her faith (something we can all relate to).  A woman torn between a physical love and a spiritual one.  Joan charms you from the start and throughout the novel, her ups and downs are your own.

I now have a definite answer to that age old question - who would you dine with, living or dead?  Joan would be seated to my left.  To finish the my right would be Elizabeth I and sitting across is Elvis.

Pope Joan Website



  1. Amy, I love the way you described this book- great review! It should be interesting to read about the struggles of a woman (in those times) and how she faces the challenges presented. Thanks!You made what seems like a pretty heavy book- and subject- sound incredibly readable:)

  2. Wonderful review Amy! Elvis, LOL!

  3. Great review! I've been wanting to read this for a while, Joan seems like such an incredible, strong female character! I like those.

  4. A wonderful review as always Amy. fascinating story, definitely one to add to the wish list.

  5. This book does look good. I must get around to reading it one of these days!

  6. Hey all - I'm glad you liked it, this was actually my second one...the first one I accidentally was I mad!!! I really think you would all love it as much as I did!

  7. Awesome review, this sounds like the type of book I'd enjoy.

  8. Add me and Henry VIII to your roundtable, and that would be a fun party :)
    Thanks for the review, this one I was happy to find at my usedbook store. A rare treat! Still sits on the tall TBR pile though.

  9. Great review. This is yet another one that sounds like something I'd love to read.

  10. I read this a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it, too. Good review!

  11. THis going on my must-read list.

  12. I always thought this looked good. Big Sigh. One more for The Pile. :-)


  13. Your review has gained my interest in Pope Joan. After reading your interview with the author - posted today - I am now psyched to read Pope Joan.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Passages to the Past
All rights reserved © 2013

Custom Blog Design by Blogger Boutique

Blogger Boutique