Customer Reviews for

Pope Joan

Average Rating 4.5
( 168 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(96)

4 Star

(47)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(7)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Thought-provoking

My husband and I both read this and found it very interesting. I enjoy historical books, and found this to have some good information, especially regarding the herbalism/healing of the time period. The theory is a unique one. I did read the author's notes prior to be...
My husband and I both read this and found it very interesting. I enjoy historical books, and found this to have some good information, especially regarding the herbalism/healing of the time period. The theory is a unique one. I did read the author's notes prior to beginning the book, and that helped keep things in perspective while reading. Excellent discussion ideas, although you may not want to bring this up with your staunchly Catholic friends!

The book was a quick read and I have recommended it to others. Take it as a theory, or straight fiction, the choice is yours, but it does give some thought-provoking material.

posted by Fluteymama on October 9, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

This was so-so

Considering that the novel was based on thorough research of a provocative idea--a female pope--I had expected the book to be more interesting. It is compelling reading with lots of action, but the main character, Joan, isn't all that interesting of a person. The side l...
Considering that the novel was based on thorough research of a provocative idea--a female pope--I had expected the book to be more interesting. It is compelling reading with lots of action, but the main character, Joan, isn't all that interesting of a person. The side love story is rather boring and predictable. What I found most irritating was the lack of complex characters. People were either all bad or all good and the plot proceeded in an entirely predictable pattern: Joan was very intelligent, etc., etc., outshone her opponents, they got mad, they tried to get even and (usually) Joan and Gerold came out on top. The end seemed rushed to me and entirely anticlimatic. I finished the book and thought, that's it? That's the end? The author's note about the Catholic Church's subsequent cover up of Pope Joan and the evidence that remains that supports the idea of a female pope was much more interesting and intriguing than the novel itself. If you liked Pope Joan with its fast action and simplistic characters, you will love Ken Follett's two books based in the Middle-Ages.

posted by KrisPA on September 14, 2009

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Page 1 of 9
  • Posted October 9, 2009

    Thought-provoking

    My husband and I both read this and found it very interesting. I enjoy historical books, and found this to have some good information, especially regarding the herbalism/healing of the time period. The theory is a unique one. I did read the author's notes prior to beginning the book, and that helped keep things in perspective while reading. Excellent discussion ideas, although you may not want to bring this up with your staunchly Catholic friends!

    The book was a quick read and I have recommended it to others. Take it as a theory, or straight fiction, the choice is yours, but it does give some thought-provoking material.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    This was so-so

    Considering that the novel was based on thorough research of a provocative idea--a female pope--I had expected the book to be more interesting. It is compelling reading with lots of action, but the main character, Joan, isn't all that interesting of a person. The side love story is rather boring and predictable. What I found most irritating was the lack of complex characters. People were either all bad or all good and the plot proceeded in an entirely predictable pattern: Joan was very intelligent, etc., etc., outshone her opponents, they got mad, they tried to get even and (usually) Joan and Gerold came out on top. The end seemed rushed to me and entirely anticlimatic. I finished the book and thought, that's it? That's the end? The author's note about the Catholic Church's subsequent cover up of Pope Joan and the evidence that remains that supports the idea of a female pope was much more interesting and intriguing than the novel itself. If you liked Pope Joan with its fast action and simplistic characters, you will love Ken Follett's two books based in the Middle-Ages.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good, Solid Read

    Based on the legend that a female served as Pope between Leo IV and Benedict the III, Cross explores the woman that may have been and how she came to sit on the throne.

    What Cross does an excellent job of doing is using historical fact, characters, and events to construct a plausible story for the reality of Joan. I also really enjoyed her presentation of the arguments for and against the existence of the female Pope.

    What kept me from giving the book a five is that the story drags a little in the middle and I was unable to emotionally connect to Joan after she heads to Fulda. I loved the child of Joan, however.

    I was completely unaware of this "event" and enjoyed learning about the possibility.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2009

    What a wonderful read

    I enjoy reading historical fiction especially during a period in history that we only can surmise some things. Learning about the herbalist and how they were thought to be witches was amazing. Women during the dark ages were only thought to be good at one thing...making men happy and having sons.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    John, meet Joan...

    I've always been a big fan of historical fiction and Pope Joan definitely delivers. I mean, a story about a female pope who might have existed? Bring it on!

    Joan is a very strong character. She is brave and educated in an age that saw an educated woman as unnatural and sinful. She also has a vast knowledge of medieval medicine which comes in handy later in the novel. The plot is action-filled; this is a book that sucks you in and can't be put down until it is done. Author notes in the back of the book are very informative about the Dark Ages and the church in Joan's time. I became so interested in the period while reading this book that I found myself researching the legend of Pope Joan...researching for fun! What is that?

    One of the themes of the book is the idea of inner conflict, especially in regards to religious upbringing. Joan is the child of a pagan mother and a strict Christian father. She constantly struggles between faith and doubt and between her mind and heart.

    The novel raises plenty of questions about women in the church both in the Dark Ages and today and whether Pope Joan even existed in the first place. I highly recommend this book for all historical fiction fans and those who enjoy a novel with a strong female protagonist.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2012

    Love this book!

    Wonderful way to learn about history. Specifically, womens history. To see how they lived and what they went through. Love her writing style. Grabbed me from the first page.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2011

    Great historical read!

    If you are at all interested in history, I would highly recommend this book! I read it in just a couple of days - couldn't put it down!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    Highly Recommended - a must read!

    This is a very well written book. The author made you believe this really could have happened.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Great read

    Couldn't put this great book down. I really enjoy strong intelligent characters whether fiction or reality --- but I really hope it's reality!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2012

    Excellent read

    The first few chapters were a bit tough to get through since she is constantly being battered, but stick with it and it becomes super interesting. The initial chapters prepared the reader for women's life in the dark ages.
    It is difficult to determine if it is a true story or not, the author suggests any papal history referring to a female pope was destroyed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2012

    Could not stop reading

    One of the best historical fiction books I've ever read! Must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2012

    Wild Ride

    Truly a great historical novel about the first woman pope. Characters are well developed and the action is nonstop. It is also a very good movie. Don't miss this one!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    Extremely thought provoking

    This is an interesting book that I read rather quickly. Truly a "page turner"! The time period in the book is always an interesting read so settling into it was easy. I read every word and enjoyed both the writer’s style and the content.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    Winderful work of Catholic Fiction

    This was a wonderfully written novel suggested to me by a co worker who also loved the red tent as I did. There are some slow moving parts as the conclusion is painfully predictable. However, the concept and mystery surrounding the story itself over shadows any slight misteps.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2011

    Loved it

    Loved it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    Thank you, Donna!

    I absolutely loved this book! And Donna Woolfolk Cross is amazing! This is just another reason why I distrust the whole organized religion system. Wiping away traces of the amazing women in history is unforgivable. Thank you, Donna, for bringing Pope Joan's story back! I can't wait to see the movie when it shows in Minneapolis!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Move over, Dan Brown!

    Donna Woolfolk Cross has researched and written a wonderful book, "Pope Joan", about the potentially true, and amazing legend of the one woman who became Pope of Rome in the 9th century. Disguised as a boy, this highly intelligent and determined young girl was given an education, impossible for any girls in those dark times, and went on, disguised as a man, to take the throne of St. Peter. This historical adventure/romance, written in an immensely readable style, and with marvelously descriptive images of medieval life and times, will entertain and inspire the reader, and will encourage girls and women to strive to attain and realize their true potential. Buy 2; one for you & one for someone else who may need to be inspired! This grand novel is a keeper!

    POPE JOAN is now an epic feature film, co-starring John Goodman and David Wenham! Adapted from the internationally best-selling novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross, the film is a sweeping historical drama based on the incredible life story of one of the most fascinating, extraordinary women in Western history--Pope Joan, a controversial figure of historical record who, boldly disguised as a man, rose to rule Christianity in the 9th century as the first and only woman to sit on the throne of St. Peter. The film will be featured at the 2010 Moondance International Film Festival, September 25, in Boulder, Colorado, and Ms. Cross will be in attendance to give a book-signing and a workshop on adapting the novel to the screen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A true story about a fascinating medieval woman

    Pope Joan is one of those remarkable novels that evokes images of a spectacular time and period. Pope Joan's achievements, in the face of social oppression against women punishable by death, are remarkable, even in today's world. How a impoverished child, abused, ignored, and trod upon, achieved the greatest throne in Christendom is truly a marvel. But that is not the only reason why this story is so endearing. It is the impeccable research and details into the Dark Ages that makes this novel resound with vibrancy.

    The novel is rich with intrigue, murderous plots, deadly secrets, adversity, religious zealots, and power mongers. Add to this, a secondary plot of love and loss, and you have a tale that is truly riveting. It is no wonder the novel will soon be made into a major motion picture.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2009

    Interesting read

    If you like historical fiction, this is a great book for you.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A great biographical read

    Joan is portrayed as a very strong and stubborn character. However because of her stubbornness it takes her farther ahead than any woman could have done during those times, and for that, I think it's a very admirable trait in her. It's because of this, she was able to overcome anything to do what she wanted to do the most; which was to learn. This is one of the most strongest female characters I have ever read so far and although she does have faults, she quickly overcomes them and does not relent. Even when she's tempted to leave with Gerold (her romance interest) she still remains steadfast to her duties to the the people in Rome. Although I found it frustrating at times, especially when things start to take a turn for the worst, it's still an admirable trait in the face of adversity.

    It's hard to feel any sympathy for any male characters in this novel. Although Gerold might be different but not as much as it all comes to the bottom line: the men in this novel prefer the women pregnant, barefoot, and in the kitchen. Their ignorance is so blatant you wanted to grind your teeth to stop yourself from wanting to jump in to wring their necks for thinking that way about women. However, it's a very realistic account, for I have no doubt that's how they thought that way (unfortunately some still do to this day).

    The plot in this book flowed perfectly and had it's good amount of climaxes and action. I was immediately sucked into the story from the beginning. I really did enjoy reading the parts on how Joan went through her journey to eventually becoming Pope. It was indeed a very nice story to read and I'd have to say it was like watching a very exciting adventure because you were always in fear of what would happen if she were to be discovered a woman. I really liked the inner politics within the Papal ranks. They're twice as devious and conniving than the royal courts I've read in previous books. The writing in this book is historically accurate in my opinion, as it gives you a good look and feel as to how it felt like to live back then in this time period.

    The only criticism I have is there are a lot of latin religious terminology (especially areas of the religious buildings and ranks of the papacy in Rome) which were hard to get through. I found myself looking a lot of the words up as to what this certain word referred to, and as to what was this rank in the papacy. A glossary would have helped as I had no prior knowledge in this aspect in history. The Author's Note however, was indeed informative and a very interesting read.

    Overall a great novel about a strong woman who faced the odds to do what she loved to do: read and learn. I recommend this book, it's a wonderful read. You may even be tempted to read some background information on Pope Joan as I did (I went straight for Wikipedia the moment I finished the book)

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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