SugarHouse Mama

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pope Joan - Donna Woolfolk Cross

So I read Pope Joan while I was in Ghana in November. {Yeah, I know. It's been a while - please don't expect a lot from me on this one, the details are already foggy}

Robert's mom recommended it when we were visiting for Nana's birthday.

It was a great book to take along and read during a long flight. The story is fast-paced and fun to read. Predictable, but still intriguing. I loved the details about Medieval life - Cross has a talent for painting a vivid picture without being gruesome or violent {I'm assuming everyone has a fairly good idea about how violent and gruesome Medieval times were}.

I'm sure there are elements of the Pope Joan story that are true, but I'm not sure I believe the entire thing. I read that a historian said it was a terrible story - that the gist of it is 'don't let a woman become pope, she will screw up.' I tend to lean in that direction.

In the novel, Joan is blinded by her desire to achieve all that is forbidden to her. It seems, at times, she only wants what she can't have. Of course, some of those desires - like education - are good things, but she forgets that there is a time and a place for everything. I admire her desire to rise above - to stretch and grow - but she becomes sort of obsessed with it. And of course, it destroys her.

On the whole, it was an entertaining, well-written, and unfamiliar story. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. I will probably see the movie when it comes out. And I will probably think the book was better.

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