Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pope Joan Book Discussion

The December 2006 selection is Pope Joan: A Novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross.

The synopsis of the book, as copied from the book's website linked above, as follows:

As its title reveals, the novel is based on the life of one of the most fascinating, extraordinary women in Western history--Pope Joan, a controversial figure of historical record who, 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.

Brilliant and talented, young Joan rebels against the medieval social strictures forbidding women to learn to read and write. When her older brother is killed during a Viking attack, Joan takes up his cloak and identity, goes to the monastery of Fulda, and is initiated into the brotherhood in his place. As Brother John Anglicus, Joan distinguishes herself as a great Christian scholar. 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 throne in Christendom.

Pope Joan is a sweeping historical drama set against the turbulent events of the 9th century -- the Saracen sack of St. Peter's, the famous fire in the Borgo that destroyed over three-quarters of the Vatican, the Battle of Fontenoy, arguably the bloodiest and most terrible of medieval conflicts. The novel is a fascinating vivid record of what life was really like during the so-called Dark Ages, as masterwork of suspense and passion that has as its center an unforgettable woman, reminiscent of Jean Auel's Ayla, Jane Austen's Emma, and other heroines who struggle against restrictions their souls will not accept.

Although we did meet to discuss this book, a majority of the members had not yet read the book, so we did not discuss it. Also, we were distracted by more important matters -- Ashley's baby shower! I know that several members actually have read the book, and I'm still working on it. So, please, go ahead and discuss it, create a new post, or merely comment on this one.

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