Pope Joan tells the legend of Joan, a young woman who poses as her brother and makes her way up to the most powerful position in the Catholic Church--Pope. Set in the 800s, Joan grows up in the middle of the Dark Ages where few people know how to read or write and women are seen as mere property and worthless.
Joan, however, strives to be different, at a very young age. Her father is a canon and marries a pagon. As she grows, Joan's mother teaches her about her religion as her father instructs her and her brothers in the Catholic faith. Joan's thirst for knowledge increases as she grows along with her father's anger towards her. When tragedy strikes and Joan's brother is killed, she decides to take his place rather than become someone's prize or slave. Her thirst for knowledge and quick wits keep her alive and her secret hidden until the very end.
The novel itself questions whether Joan actually existed. The author explains in her afterword why she believes this legend, even with the arguments against it. A great historical fiction!