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"Pope Joan has all the elements one wants in a historical drama – love, sex, violence, duplicity, and long-buried secrets. Cross has written an engaging book."–Los Angeles Times Book Review

In this international bestseller, Donna Woolfolk Cross brings the Dark Ages to life in all their brutal splendor and shares the dramatic story of a woman whose strength of vision led her to defy the social restrictions of her day.

For a thousand years her existence has been denied. She is the legend that will not die –- Pope Joan, the ninth-century woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only female ever to sit on the throne of St. Peter. Now in this riveting novel, Cross paints a sweeping portrait of an unforgettable heroine who struggles against restrictions her soul cannot accept. 

Brilliant and talented, young Joan rebels against medieval social strictures forbidding women to learn. When her brother is brutally killed during a Viking attack, Joan takes up his cloak–and his identity–and enters the monastery of Fulda. As Brother John Anglicus, Joan distinguishes herself as a great scholar and healer. Eventually, she is drawn to Rome, where she becomes enmeshed in a dangerous web of love, passion, and politics. Triumphing over appalling odds, she finally attains the highest office in Christendom–wielding a power greater than any woman before or since. But such power always comes at a price . . . 

"Brings the savage ninth century vividly to life in all its alien richness. An enthralling, scholarly historical novel."
--Rebecca Fraser, Author of The Brontës

Book Reviews

Pope Joan
Average rating
4.5 / 5
easy to admire and love the main characters
August 31st, 2015
I love books with good historical situations and wonderful characters with intelligence, compassion and generous hearts. Will want to read it again.
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1 review
Riveting and thought provoking
July 12th, 2015
A vivid portrayal of life as it could have been, this book avoided the clichés of much historical fiction and left the reader to decide what to believe. Strong characters, real feelings and a well placed plot.
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1 review
Great Read!!!
June 30th, 2015
Read this many years ago---loved it then, loved it now. So interesting. Moves right along and doesn't ever get boring
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1 review
A great read.
June 29th, 2015
This story was very well written. The details brought to life what the times were like and why her life would have unfolded as it did. Written as fiction but almost certainly based upon fact. What an incredible woman Pope Joan was!
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1 review
1 person found this helpful
January 24th, 2014
I enjoyed this book. The story was interesting and had momentum. I think it was decent, but fell short of great. The characters read as two dimentional and some of the story was predictable. These shortfalls did not prevent me from enjoying the story. I would say it did a good job of setting itself in the time, but I am not familiar with the dark ages.
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1 review
2 of 2 people found this helpful
Up all night reading
March 13th, 2013
Joan was a character brought to life and I couldn't put the book away.
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1 review

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