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Publisher's Summary

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, Donna Woolfolk 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....

©1996 , 2009 Donna Woolfolk Cross (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Whether or not one believes in Joan as Pope, this is a compelling story, filled with all kinds of lore: the brutishness of the Dark Ages, Vatican intrigue, politics and favoritism and most of all, the place of women in the Church and in the world." (Amazon.com review)
"In this colorful, richly imagined novel, Cross ably inspires a suspension of disbelief, pulling off the improbable feat of writing a romance starring a pregnant pope." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Pope Joan

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Silly Woman!

Donna Cross leaves no cliche uncoined in this overlong and faintly ridiculous attempt at the legend of a medieval female pope. There are numerous anachronisms, and the turgid prose, predictable plot make it very difficult for Barbara Rosenblat to give it a convincing reading. After her exceptional reading of the Amelia Peabody novels, I had hoped for much more from her. The yawn factor was very high for me with this book. I'm being generous with 3 stars.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Lady Pope

Pope Joan is a very good book. I couldn't stop listening to it, and after I finished- I thought more about the carichtors. After a very shocking trauma, Joan chose to live in 2 worlds: One in which she is almost a man, a priest who does many almost unbelievable things. In the other, she is a woman who does the most womanly things. The only link between her 2 worlds is her love to Jerald. If you are in the search for a provoking and enjoyable listening, I recommend you to buy this book.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Breathtaking brilliance!

This has to be the best book ever read! The historical correctness is astounding , as it relates to those findings verified in historical literature. We will never know the truth of the actual existence of such a Lady, but this author provides a brilliant read. Best book ever written, in my opinion!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

I had heard a lot of good buzz about this novel and was looking forward to it. In the end, while it kept my attention, it was just OK. Cross relied too heavily on clich??s, and the book would have been better without shoving in the mushy romance. So is the moral of the story that women should be treated as individuals and judged according to their abilities--or is it that women, in the end, really are creatures ruled by their passions and need a man to control them?

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Missed opportunity

I picked this book with the expectation that we would see how a woman might change the course of human affairs early in the development of contemporary civilization. Cross missed her opportunity to define how a feminist point of view might have truly made a difference. At the end, one is left with a "so what" -- having been female didn't alter anything? so what did it matter? being smarter didn't change anything, so what did it matter? I'm wondering why it mattered that I even finished listening. It didn't. Can't remember much about Joan anymore.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous and interesting story

Could she have been pope. Most certainly! This is very thought provoking. The Catholic Church offers much good....except in the treatment of women at the top: it is time to let reason rule tradition. I️ can see this book as great mini series....Netflix take note. This would be a winner! By the way, I️ loved the reader’s voice. I️ could sit for hours letter her tell me stories.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

WOW!!!

This book is wonderfully written. The performance was just so great. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

I really liked this book

Except the ending was not what I expected. I guess it did have to end that way. I was wondering prior to getting it if I would think it was boring. I really did not and wish the author would write more of that period. If you like historical fiction, of which I am a buff, (wish audible would make a category for me so I can find them easier)you will really like this story.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Very interesting and well written

Since trying Pillars of the Earth after seeing the high rating from Audible members I've been leery of any books. I found Follet's writing of poor quality with repetitious and excessive wording. A good story but at least 100 pages longer than needed.

Pope Joan deserve high marks for historical fiction, quality writing, a well crafted story and it's all delivered in marvelous narration. Well worth the listen.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Modern characters in the 9th Century

The title of my review says it all. I agree with the reviewer that says there are a lot of anachronisms in this book. The characters act modern! Joan's brother whines that it "isn't fair" that he has to go to school. I don't think that there was much FAIR about life in the 9th century. I hated that the author beat me over the head with the "downtrodden woman" thing. Since we've only had the vote for the past 100 years, I would say that it should come as no surprise and I didn't need constant reminding of it. All the characters are one dimensional, too. Not recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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