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Favorite HF Authors > Donna Woolfolk Cross - Pope Joan

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message 1: by Teralyn (new)

Teralyn Pilgrim | 36 comments Pope Joan is one of my favorite HF novels. It's super popular in England, but I don't hear much about it in America. It's too bad, because the novel is fabulous!

The book is about a woman who becomes pope. I don't think I need to say anything more... that pretty much did it for me! It's based on a story that's probably true, but the Catholic church denies. It's clever, romantic, and full of action.

Has anyone else read it?


message 2: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I belive they are currently discussing it over in the Group European Royalty, but I am not sure. I haven't read it yet....but I have it!


message 3: by Teralyn (new)

Teralyn Pilgrim | 36 comments Yay! Finally, someone who's read it besides me. Thanks!


message 4: by Linda (new)

Linda | -42 comments yes, I've read it. It was years ago but I do remember that I loved it.


message 5: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) I read it last year and thought it was good. The romance part of the book surprised me, I was not expecting that!


message 6: by Teralyn (last edited Jun 30, 2011 07:39AM) (new)

Teralyn Pilgrim | 36 comments My spoiler comment is about the romance:

(view spoiler)


message 7: by Ioana (new)

Ioana | -12 comments I read it, too about a year ago, and thought it was very good. I don't think Donna Woolfolk Cross wrote anything else...


message 8: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2231 comments Teralyn can you please use the spoiler tag for that last tidbit in your post?
< spoiler > insert text < /spoiler > <--takeout the space for the last spoiler

Some members don't visit wiki and that last paragraph would totally ruin it for some people...ironically the same thing you complained about. lol :)


message 9: by Teralyn (last edited Jun 30, 2011 07:38AM) (new)

Teralyn Pilgrim | 36 comments Oops. I'm new; this is my excuse. Sorry to anyone if I ruined the book for you....


message 10: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2231 comments It's okay Teralyn :) I'm not a stickler for that sort of stuff, but some people are.


message 11: by Danna (new)

Danna Wow, I love POPE JOAN! So beautiful. Feminist, some would say, and I agree. This book is just SO GOOD! Joe (yeah, I nicknamed her after a boy's name, how girlish is that!) is so brave and strong. I love it (: So fanscinating and moving, historical fiction the way it should be.
Don't you like HF? try this one xD
sorry, I am just so thrilled! love it <3

Ah, hello Teralyn, Jackie, Ioana, Anne, Linda, Chrissie! How nice to hear that you too like it. I thought I might be the only PJ fan I know, because some family members of mine read this book and did not like it, so I had not have anyone to talk to about this phenomenal novella.


message 12: by Miss Kate (new)

Miss Kate (misskatesays) | -14 comments I loved that book. It's been years since I've read it, and now I might have to go back and re-read.

An interesting (and spoiler-free) historical tidbit: the Catholic Church officially denies that there ever was a female pope. YET for a long time (Middle Ages through Renaissance) the pope had to be examined to prove that he had male genitalia before ascending to the position. Hmmm...


message 13: by Teralyn (new)

Teralyn Pilgrim | 36 comments I firmly believe it really happened. Donna Cross made some pretty good arguments in the author notes, but this is what sold me on it: There are many incentives to deny the event if it happened, but no incentives to say it happened when it didn't.

Cross said Catholics claim the Protestants made the story up to make the church look bad. With all due respect to Catholics, there was enough drama with popes that Protestants didn't need to start rumors.


message 14: by Teralyn (new)

Teralyn Pilgrim | 36 comments I think my favorite aspect of the book was its cleverness. I loved the discussions about logic and religion. The romance was wonderful, too.


message 15: by Danna (last edited Jul 05, 2011 10:13AM) (new)

Danna Miss Kate wrote: "I loved that book. It's been years since I've read it, and now I might have to go back and re-read.

An interesting (and spoiler-free) historical tidbit: the Catholic Church officially denies that..."


I suppose they should have denied it. I mean, omg! what a shame! (and delete the OMG, they're catholic.). I would have denies any connection, because it was a HUGE mistake and I am really happy this is a kinda-real story, cuz it meant - Girls Rocks! BTW, is there any reason we are only girls on the thread? LOL.


message 16: by Danna (new)

Danna Teralyn wrote: "I think my favorite aspect of the book was its cleverness. I loved the discussions about logic and religion. The romance was wonderful, too."

Yes. I swear I almost drowned in tears... romance? it was gentle and pure. No wonder priests were so grumpy. they had no chance to relax with a woman.
Besides, it was all very very exciting, and heartbreaking, including th first scene, when the midwife helps Gordon to give birth to a girl. A female. But a female to become the most respectable (wo)man on earth in the years to come.
Damn, history is just fabulous!


message 17: by Maude (new)

Maude | 752 comments Right, you are, Danna!


message 18: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I have this book sitting on my shelf.... Maybe I should read it soon. Or next?


message 19: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 221 comments I read it, Chrissie. I liked it very much, but you should be aware that there is no actual evidence that there was a Pope Joan. This is speculation.


message 20: by Chrissie (last edited Jul 06, 2011 02:39AM) (new)

Chrissie Shomeret and others, I am curious to know why each of you believe / do not believe that she was a woman.

Maude, have your reed this book too?


message 21: by Danna (new)

Danna Chrissie wrote: "I have this book sitting on my shelf.... Maybe I should read it soon. Or next?"

I suppose it would be for the best, if you would eventually decide to read it. You see, this is an extraordinary plot and characters, as you might have concluded from the messages. So, yes, I do believe you would like the book.
As for the question "should I read it SOON", well I support it very much. Although, it is all depends on the question whever you like historical fiction or not, because if you do - and if you also tend to feminism - I suggest you will read the book as earl as possible.y
ENJOY


message 22: by Danna (new)

Danna Shomeret wrote: "I read it, Chrissie. I liked it very much, but you should be aware that there is no actual evidence that there was a Pope Joan. This is speculation."

Seriously? Well, if truth it is that you are speaking - I am really amazed. I was absolutely positive that the plot is 100% true. I felt such pride and exctiment, as if I am the one to be a pope, let along being a female.

Why are there no female popes in the world? And for that matter, why is any authorised figure in the history of the world is a man? President of the United States, as the probably impactable person in the room, and other presidents. Even terrorists (but that, I assume, has to do with the Islam, which I am not suppose to talk about since I am getting madly eager about it).
Well, what a world is that?


message 23: by Ioana (new)

Ioana | -12 comments Chrissie wrote: "I have this book sitting on my shelf.... Maybe I should read it soon. Or next?"

Chrissie, yes, read it soon. It is a great book, with a good story and interesting characters. Because the church denies it and other documents do not exist (or are well hidden) is hard to say 100% the story is true or not.

But after reading it, I think there is a very good chance for it to be true. I think it really happened.

Read the book :)


message 24: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Possibly it is true, but I don't think any of us know for sure. I still am curious to know what facts make each one of you believe it is or is not true.

In any case, it ought to be a fun book to read. For this reason alone, I have started it.


message 25: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I must ask if anyone has this on Kindle and if it is possible to lend it? I have the paperback, but reading with a magnifying glass is a pain, so I would love to borrow fom someone who has it on Kindle. It doesn't hurt for me to ask...... Amazon allows this for some books. Amazon manages it. The book is leant for two weeks and during that time it is not accessible to the person who lends it, Then it automatically returns to their Kinlde and is removed from the borrower's Kindle.


message 26: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 221 comments Chrissie wrote: "Shomeret and others, I am curious to know why each of you believe / do not believe that she was a woman.

Maude, have your reed this book too?"


There is no record of Pope Joan. She is supposed to have been Pope during a time period when there weren't very good records about Popes. Popes weren't in office for long. There were also Anti-Popes. It can't be proved that there was a Pope Joan, but it also can't be disproved. I enjoy this book as fiction.


message 27: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Thanks for joinging the converstion Shomeret. :0)


message 28: by Danna (last edited Jul 07, 2011 02:59AM) (new)

Danna Chrissie wrote: "Possibly it is true, but I don't think any of us know for sure. I still am curious to know what facts make each one of you believe it is or is not true.

In any case, it ought to be a fun book t..."


Well, Chrissie, you might find the book very fun, as I agreed before. Please, get ready for a very long nights of excitment, or an inner looks - look at yourself and ask yourself this: if it would have been me, would i ever do that ? could i ever been so brave? consider the unpleasent circumstances, the family, ...

{sorry I got confused with another book. But really, think about it, history is awefully heartbreaking. I think I was suppose to write about Gordon's origin, you know, of being Anglo-Saxi or however I spell it).

Yes, it will be fan :)


message 29: by Danna (new)

Danna Shomeret wrote: "Chrissie wrote: "Shomeret and others, I am curious to know why each of you believe / do not believe that she was a woman.

Maude, have your reed this book too?"

There is no record of Pope Joan. Sh..."


Well, may be there was a Pope Joan. Or some pope with a same name all throughout the history of Christians? or maybe there was such story, but with different name? There gotta be.

I mean, I wish it would have been true. Who would not?


message 30: by Danna (new)

Danna Oh...

In the first paragraph of this text, from wikipedia, it says:

"Pope Joan is a legendary female Pope who supposedly reigned for a few years some time in the Middle Ages. The story first appeared in the writings of 13th-century chroniclers, and subsequently spread through Europe. It was widely believed for centuries, though modern historians and religious scholars consider it fictitious, perhaps deriving from historicized folklore regarding Roman monuments or from anti-papal satire."


You see.
In "Lord of The Ring" there is a very nice quote, which might explain the incidents above and tell us, very wisely may I add, how real the story is:

"And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge. Until, when chance came, the ring ensnared another bearer..."

Although it is absolutely fiction (the quote), it is 100% POSSIBLE.
People might have not believed, as well as the next Popes and priests - that they have been cheated that way, so they made it a rumor, which turned later into a legend and into a myth. They were very ashamed of how the story turned out to be, so it is very very possible they rewrote history books in order not to expose hoe foolish the church seemed.
And it is written like that (wiki) "Pope Joan is a legendary". which goes perfectly with (lotr) "history become legend, legend...".

Isn't it a beauty?


message 31: by Chrissie (last edited Jul 07, 2011 01:33AM) (new)

Chrissie Danna, what do you mean by referring to the dead little brother? Mathew and John are both older! Mathew died and John was not the scholarly type, Yes, the book is gripping, but I am not quite sure if realistically she could pull of what she has planned. I will consider your questions as I read.

Joana, just the enjoyment of reading a good story and pondering the possibility makes me want to read it. The book convinced you, so the writing must be persuasive.


message 32: by Maude (new)

Maude | 752 comments I am late to this conversation but, no, I have never read about Pope Joan but now would like to know more about her, if in fact she was real?? I do believe, however, that there was a period of time where nuns ran convents without male dominance but I am a little fuzzy on the reasons right now -


message 33: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Maude, maybe there was a female Pope......


message 34: by Maude (new)

Maude | 752 comments Chrissie, I do believe it was possible to have a female pope and am very interested in finding out more about her, of which, I believe is very little. There have been strong women all through history.


message 35: by Chrissie (last edited Jul 07, 2011 01:03PM) (new)

Chrissie Maude, well, you could start with this book or read on Wikipedia. There is another book too, but I do not remember the title, about a woman who actually made the decisions but hadn't the title.

I am not saying a woman couldn't be a Pope, just that no one is sure Pope Joan did exist or not. There is not clear evidence.


message 36: by Maude (new)

Maude | 752 comments Thanks Chrissie. I do want to read more about her and why we know of her and yet have so little information. I love doing research but it is hard when so much might be in another country and not readily available. I am going to Wikipedia right now.


message 37: by Maude (new)

Maude | 752 comments Chrissie, Wikipedia states that Pope Joan is fictitious - do you think they were there back in the Middle Ages?


message 38: by Chrissie (last edited Jul 08, 2011 12:36AM) (new)

Chrissie Maude, I do not understand your question.

The general consensus is that she did not exist. I still find the book intersting as a means to probe the question. I do not think we will get any defintie answers. The book can still be an enjoyable historical fiction novel. Hopefully, I will get a glimpse of the time and place.

But there is another woman who played a huge role in papal decisions. Who was that?!

ETA Pope joan is said either to have lived in the 9th or the end of the 11th century. In this book the story begins 814 AD.

And this is the book I was trying to remember the title of Mistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope.


message 39: by Teralyn (last edited Jul 08, 2011 08:33AM) (new)

Teralyn Pilgrim | 36 comments I'd like to repost my argument, in case some of you missed it:

Teralyn wrote: "I firmly believe it really happened. Donna Cross made some pretty good arguments in the author notes, but this is what sold me on it: There are many incentives to deny the event if it happened, but no incentive to say it happened when it didn't.

Cross said Catholics claim the Protestants made the story up to make the church look bad. With all due respect to Catholics, there was enough drama with popes that Protestants didn't need to start rumors.


Hey, maybe we could do this book for the next book group and we could get Donna Cross to come on the forum and talk about it?

I went to the HNS conference this year and was dying -- absolutely dying -- to meet her, but I never got the chance. It was horrible. I would be thrilled if we could talk to her here.


message 40: by Danna (new)

Danna Teralyn wrote: "I'd like to repost my argument, in case some of you missed it:

Teralyn wrote: "I firmly believe it really happened. Donna Cross made some pretty good arguments in the author notes, but this is ..."


Getting Donna Cross to talk about Pope Joan?! Wow, this is a cool idea. We could actually ask her about her historical research before writing the book, maybe she is the one to solve it out: was there or was there not a female Pope? Interesting (:
But you should get her address or e-mail or something, you can't just put it online, just like that. Though it is possible, and I think I would like it very much. Brilliant XD.


message 41: by Carol (new)

Carol Keogh (Goodfellow) (carolgoodfellowkeogh) | 2 comments I have added this book to my TBR list, cant wait. I remember a film on this subject many years ago. I fell instantly in love with Franco Nero so it was my fav film for a while. I am really looking forward to reading this as all of your comments seem pretty favourable. Will keep you updated.


message 42: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Teralyn wrote: "I went to the HNS conference this year and was dying -- absolutely dying -- to meet her, but I never got the chance."

I met her briefly; she was very nice. I just had to ask her if it was true that she got to meet David Wenham (Faramir from Lord of the Rings) when he played her hero in the movie of Pope Joan. Not only did she meet him, but he was her first choice and she got to help persuade him to do the part in the first place. She says he's just as cute in person as well as a really nice guy - "I practically had to keep my daughter from lunging at him with suction cups."

Incidentally, there is a movie of "Pope Joan" and it was filmed in English - yet not released in the US. It's been released in Europe with various foreign subtitles, strangely enough. I'm trying to see if I can track it down after I read the book.


message 43: by Teralyn (new)

Teralyn Pilgrim | 36 comments I heard the movie is coming to the US. I was going to ask her about it when I met her at the conference. *groan*


message 44: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 3 comments I'm so glad to see a discussion about this book!! i have loved it for years and it is one of the few books I've read twice.

I heard of Pope Joan in a women's studies class in college. She only came up in connection with how she died. Despite this spoiler, I still got into it. So many interesting characters besides Joan. So many people just trying to get by and live the life they'd been dealt.

There are all kinds of true accounts throughout history of women being passed off as men. If a woman can go to war dressed as a man then she can be elected Pope!


message 45: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I have to say, although I was very intrigued with the books topic, although I found the possibily of there really being a female Pope, I did not enjoy the book at all. I found the presentation cinematic and the characters two-dimensional. Here is my spoiler free GR review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

I am adding it here for those GR members wondering if they shoulmd read this book. It is always good to view a book from different perspectives. I know my dislike of this book is in the minority, so maybe each one of us has to read it themselves to judge.


message 46: by Donna (new)

Donna Morin | 5 comments I'm new to the group, and realize this topic is waning but I recently finished Pope Joan with great satisfaction. She used her fiction devices brilliantly yet the flavor of a factual recounting was in the tone. Having written about a few of the Catholic churches...vagaries, shall we say...I not only believe the postulation and evidence she proposes, but I have no doubt as to the possibility of a systematic cover up as well. Rest assured, as far as the church is concerned, I do not denounce the message for the messenger. I would have liked to have seen a bibliography in the book however to allow the interested further reading.


message 47: by Teralyn (new)

Teralyn Pilgrim | 36 comments I would like to read more about it too. I heard she cut about 100 pages out of the book, and I would have loved to read it. Although who knows, maybe I would hate them -- they were cut for a reason -- but when I heard there was more of the book that I couldn't have, it made me ache inside.


message 48: by Donna (new)

Donna Morin | 5 comments Me too, Teralyn...just the thought of all that buried treasure gets me all aflutter! Maybe she'll re-release someday with the missing pages.


message 49: by Maureen (new)

Maureen (maureencean) While I know this is a cold thread, I joined this group on a whim, my first, and I was delighted to find this discussion. I found the book a great pleasure and hope my club will read it someday. I believe!


message 50: by Moon (new)

Moon | -48 comments I purchased this book on a whim, but it turned out to be a really good book. A keeper to be sure. I do confess that the character whom David Wenham plays in the film adaptation had me smitten so it wasn't just Joan! I would like to see the movie.


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