Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross is exactly why I love historical fiction! I was hooked from the very first page of this novel as I journeyed through Joan’s life with her and I was alternately shocked and amazed at the life she led. I was so captivated by this novel and impressed with both the detail of the time period it was written in and the vivid descriptions of the life, the area and the people that I could not put it down. Being that I had known nothing of Pope Joan before this book, the pages flew by and I felt sad when I finished it, because although it ended at a good point, I still wanted more.
Joan was an amazing, strong, and resourceful woman in a time when women weren’t; in a time when they had no rights whatsoever; in a time when it was ok to beat or rape a woman with no consequences. From the day Joan was born she was unwanted by her father, supposedly a man of God himself although he had no trouble beating Joan when she displeased him which happened much too often. To him women were worthless and so when he learned of Joan’s intelligence in learning he was none too pleased. Joan however was determined not to live the life of her mother and vowed to do whatever necessary to further herself in the world and that’s just what she does even at great personal risk to herself.
Thankfully a teaching master takes a shine to Joan and offers to tutor her but all to soon he leaves but promises to find someone else to teach her. Ultimately he does and Joan is summoned to attend a school away from home; finally Joan will escape her father’s tyranny. However, it is a struggle for her there as well. She is still a girl and teased and shunned relentlessly because of her intelligence not only by the other children but also some of the adults. Thankfully Joan meets Gerold who, throughout her life will play a huge roll in it as from the beginning the two form a strong bond.
After a terrifying tragedy Joan is forced to leave the school. She decides to join a monastery – the very one her brother was to attend and what better way to do so but as her brother John. She disguises herself as a man and makes a peaceful life for herself for many years. She’s respected for her knowledge as a man and is allowed access to all the learning she wants. Again, Joan is forced to leave and ends up in Rome. There she lives as a man also and is respected for her knowledge especially in the area of medicine and healing. Joan lives the rest of her life as a man all the way to being elected as Pope. Joan was such a brave woman living this way. Had she ever been discovered the punishment would have been death. To fool all of those people all those years would have caused an immense uproar.
Joan, although taking over a man’s appearance, still thinks to the life she may have had with a husband and children or her one true love. This was never to be her destiny though – hers was to learn, teach and heal. Joan was a character that grabbed my heart from the beginning and I believed in her and cared about her until the end. To think that in that time a woman had to disguise herself as a man to live a life beyond marriage and children is truly saddening yet I imagine Joan was not the only one to ever attempt it. This is an amazing book, truly worth reading. The best is that it is being made into a major motion picture and I can’t wait to see it!
Before I move on to the giveaway, keep in mind that Donna has her own promotion going on to Walk the Pope Joan Red Carpet with her and her family to her movie premiere. How fabulous is that! Head over to Donna’s website here and check out the details on how to enter but hurry as the deadline is July 31st. I’d like to thank Donna for my specially inscribed copy of Pope Joan. This novel will have a special place on my shelf as it’s one of my favorite reads this year!
I’m excited to be able to offer up one copy of Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross to one lucky reader courtesy of Donna herself. She will even autograph it with a personal inscription to the winner which makes it even more special! What can you do to enter:
- For 1 entry leave me a comment with a way to contact you.
- For 2 entries comment on something from my review.
- For 3 entries blog or tweet this giveaway to spread the word.
This giveaway will be open to US & Canadian residents only and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, August 15, 2009. Good luck everyone!
This book sounds great. I have read so many great reviews of this one 🙂
Don't enter me ofcourse 🙂
I really enjoyed this book too! Joan is such a great character.
No need to enter me in the giveaway!
Sandy Nawrot says
Oh, the hype of this book! It has been awhile since there has been this much excitement over a book, the upcoming movie and the contest. I guess I'm going to need to read this, as it seems it has lived up to its reputation. It seems like I am always the last one on the bandwagon! Please enter me into the giveaway!
It does sound good. We don't realise how lucky we are as women today, not to suffer the treatment they did back then. Or should I say we are lucky to live in Westernised countries that don't treat women so badly.
I really want to read this book! You know it's a good book when you are sad when you finish it. Great review!
Please enter me in the giveaway.
I've read some interesting things about this book but your review was great. Joan sounds like such a strong and courageous woman in a time when just being a woman at all took courage. This sounds like an incredibly fascinating read and it's definitely on my wish list, which would make winning it even better!
melacan at hotmail dot com
Don't enter me – I won this already – I just wanted to say I loved your review – it's made me very excited about the book.
Debbie F says
After reading your review and feeling your excitement for book I have added it to my TBR pile. Would really like to win!
dcf_beth at verizon dot net
It must have been hard to keep up the pretense of being a man for so long. Your review is wonderful, Dar. Please enter me in the drawing.
I hope this doesn't make me sound dense, but she was really elected as Pope? I've been hearing so many great things about this one lately, but I wasn't sure just how much of the story was based on real historical events. I can't imagine living as a man and not being able to fully be with my husband and children. Sure, enter me! You know how to find me. 😛
I love reading historical fiction about strong female characters. I just can't imagine the strength that she must have had. Please enter me.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com
This one has been on my list. It looks good. Intriguing.
Karen H in NC says
This is the first I've read about this book. One has to admire a woman brave enough and clever enough in her time to successfully masquerade as a man to acquire the education and life work she needs and deserves.
Please add me to the giveaway.
kkhaas AT bellsouth DOT net
Thoughts of Joy says
I didn't read your review because I'll be reading this soon. I'm so glad to see that you really enjoyed it though. 🙂 Woo!
It's funny because I love the idea of a woman dressing up to take the place of a man as pope, but I hadn't really thought about what she would be giving up (as far as marriage and children).
akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com
I agree that it's sad that Joan had to pretend to be a man to have the life she wanted. It sounds like a great book, though. Thanks for entering me in the giveaway.
carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com
Would love to read this book, please put me in the drawing. It always amazes the lengths women went to in that age to do what men took for granted. That she gave up marriage and children to do what she wanted to do is heroic!
This book sounds interesting. It’s not a book that I would normally pick, though. That's why I would be interested in reading it:)Please enter me into this giveaway. Thanks for stopping by my blog again:) Have a nice day.
Irene Yeates says
I would love to win this one!
cyeates AT nycap DOT rr DOT com
Dar, you know I don't usually enter the contests, but I'm entering this one. Posted for you on Win A Book.
winabook (at) westofmars (dot) com
Wow I love your review. I'm normally scared of books like this because I have this idea in my head that it will be slow and boring but wow the way you describe this book. Strong woman in books make for great reading. Please count me in on the giveaway.Thanks.
Would love to read this book…thanks.
I'd love, love, love to have this one. Thanks for sharing~
s.mickelson at gmail dot com
No Need to enter me Dar..I read this book several years ago with my book club. I loved it, it was so well written and thought provoking. A great book for a book club discussion to pick apart the "what if's". I recall being amazed at the author's comments at the end of the book with pictures and all. There are theories out there that this may have actually happened or something like it…who knows! Pope Joan is great historical fiction. It is one of my favorites as well.
Please enter me in the giveaway! email@example.com
I have been wanting to read this book forever! Thanks for hosting the giveaway!
This sounds like a wonderful historical read. Please enter me.
After reading your review I am even more interested in this book. What an amazing woman Joan must have been and what confiction and inner-strength she must have had to live the life she did ~ not the life she wanted, but more than it could have been.
Been needing a good historic fiction novel, sounds like a good one ,please enter me.
This sounds like an amazing story. Does Donna Woolfolk give a little insight as to what is based on fact and what she imagined? I like it when the authors give an afterword about the historical details. Please enter me: thereadingjourney[at]gmail[dot]com
A signed copy wow, I am a follower.
cenya2 at hotmail dot com
Raised Catholic, I would like to read this book!
Please count me in for your giveaway, Pope Joan sounds like a fantastic read! Thanks so very much=)
Luvdaylilies at bellsouth dot net
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com
I love your reviews 🙂 please enter me and thank you so much!
Carolina Gal"s Literary Cafe says
Please enter me. I remember wanted to read this book many years ago. When I first got involved in book clubs. I remember then the author said the rights to the book was bought. Wow, it took that long. I'm sure the wait paid off.
Carolina Gal's Literary Cafe says
forgot to add my email bookmark6o at hotmail dot com.
Please sign me up for this-I think this should be an interesting read.
chocolateandcroissants at yahoo dot com
Jake Lsewhere says
Looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.
Thanks for hosting this giveaway.
Jake Lsewhere says
I've also blogged about this giveaway here.
Sheila (bookjourney) says
Dont enter me – Have read this and am also offering a giveaway. I just wanted to agree with you on how great this book is.
I think this is my favorite read this year. I loved it! 🙂
Ms. Lucy says
Dar- what an absolutely splendid review! You loved it as much as I did! Donna goes through every single time in Joan's life in specific detail..I loved this book through and through. Like you, I can't wait for the movie. Thanks:)
I'd love to read this!
janemaritz at yahoo dot com
Thanks so much for the fabulous giveaway!
sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com
sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com
Have yet to read a negative review for this one…it does sound really good!
I'd love to be entered. Your review as usual is great. I can't imagine living in a time when rape is okay, or having to disguise as a woman to just exist without marriage. Amazing. I want to read this one so please enter me. Thank you.
Here is my tweet: http://bit.ly/3OW9F
I've been seeing this book everywhere but I had never really taken the time to read about it…its sounds so interestsing I would love to win it! I had no idea it was going to be made into a movie!
Thanks for the great contest,
This sounds like a great book, and you seem to have really liked it. It reminds me so much of a book that I read as a kid. It was one of my favorites from my early teens.
Thanks for the giveaway!
nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com
I blogged it:
nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com
Wow, this does sound great. I love good historical fiction too.
Glad you enjoyed this one so much, great review!
First, don't you have a new look around here? I love it.
And were women ever really not strong and resourceful? I'm thinking we would have all perished long ago if we weren't:)
I've been dying to read this one. Makes me glad to be living now. I can't imagine not being able to live outside being a wife and mom. Don't get me wrong, I love being both, but there's so much more to me. This sounds like a fascinating book.
I've posted this in my sidebar.
Diary of an Eccentric
diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com
I've been hearing alot about this one, count me in! tWarner419@aol.com
Pope Joan is on my TBR list. I would love to win an autographed copy.
I am DYING to read this one!
And I think you're right when you say that Joan is not the only woman to attempt such a thing. Joan of Arc, for one, and the female Pharaoh of Egypt. Oh! And let's not forget all of the women found dressed as men fighting in the Civil War.
I would love to win this book.
budletsmom at yahoo dot com
I would love to win this book. It has been on my TBR list for quite a long time. You have caught the essence of the dichotomy between reality and fiction in this historical novel. Even though it is based on reality, there are fictional aspects to the story that makes it come alive for the reader.
bstilwell12 AT comcast DOT net
I just tweeted about this giveaway. The link is:
btilwell12 AT comcast DOT net
Please enter me in your draw.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com
I like reading books that also teach me about a historical figure I don't know a lot about.
Joan sounds like an amazing woman, to persevere after being hated by your father and beaten by him often she must be strong and resourceful which is sounds like she surely is!
Great review! Thank you!
Enter me, please. I will be tweeting about this giveaway. @FleurDeMar
martinack_75 AT hotmail DOT com
Gosh you are hosting so many great giveaways! Sorry to be entering so many, but these books look great. I would really like to read this one, and your review of it was great. Please enter me.
So many people are posting great interviews and reviews. I would love to be entered. I am a follower and posted on my blog sidebar http://themaidenscourt.blogspot.com/.
Belinda M says
Please include me in your giveaway
Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Chat – join us at CoolCanucks.ca
I think you already know I posted this on my blog.
Grad School Mommy says
I'm really crossing my fingers on this one — as I've been hoping to get this book for weeks. Your review is one of the most thorough I've seen, and I can't wait to read it for myself. As an addict of historical fiction and a feminist, this one is right up my alley. 😉 We owe so much to generations of women who broke boundaries that we take for granted today (and many that we still need to work on)…
I've been wanting to read this for a while now. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Please enter me. I have not heard of this book.
I blogged about this giveaway and listed it in my sidebar.
I blogged about this contest here.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com
Please enter me! email@example.com
thanks sounds great
wadesherry@hotmail dot com
enjoy reading comments.
Lee P says
This sounds like an amazing book! Thanks for this giveaway and please count me in.
Lee P says
I must admit, I've never heard of this book until now, but it is a MUST read for me. It's so sad that she had to change who she was (on the outside)to be accepted. Thanks for this really good review.
this looks like such an intriguing read. wow I will read this regardless if I win or not
Your enthusiasm for this book is infectious! Please enter me!
I'm also a Follower.
This looks great – I would love this. Please count me in!
gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com
+ 3 I'm posting a link to this contest on my blog's sidebar.
+2 comment on review – The book sounds fascinating, almost unbelievable. How did the author do research on Pope Joan? You were careful not to include spoilers, but it sounds like she was assaulted in her previous school before she decided to pretend to be a man.
This sounds like a good book that makes you think! Thank you for this contest!
2- I follow via google reader!
teagirl1 at telus dot net
Laura's Reviews says
I love historical fiction and would love to win this book! Joan sounds like a fantastic heroine!
My email address is laarlt78 at hotmail dot com.
i've been hearing such great things about this book, i'd love to read it! thanks for this giveaway
Neas Nuttiness says
I would love a chance at winning a copy. Thanks so much.