Pope Joan is about the (possibly true?) legend of a woman who became pope. In the novel, Joan is a brilliant, gifted girl who constantly battles against the ignorance, superstition, and bigotry of the ninth century.
She finally decides to live as a man to be free from the constraints of being a woman, and as she navigates her way through the Catholic clergy system, she finds herself thrust into the most powerful position in the world.
Oh, and it’s a fantastic love story. Truly, fantastic.
The research is impeccable, the heroine is intelligent and fierce, the villains are detestable, the story is intense, and the romance swoon-worthy. It’s my #1 Favorite Book.
As soon as I read it, I knew this was the kind of book I wanted to spend the rest of my life writing. Now not only do I identify as a historical novelist, but because of Pope Joan, I also write on religious subjects.
It’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best. I was 22 when I read this book and everything I’d read so far ended in happily ever after.
This was unfortunate for me because the blissful honeymoon stage of my marriage had drawn to a close and I had come to realize that hey, marriage is super hard. I was feeling a little lost.
It was refreshing – actually, it was life-saving – to read in Mama Day about a relationship from the beginning all the way to the end. Cocoa and George remind me a lot of my husband and I, so whenever they got in a fight, it was a wonderful release to see them repair everything again. Despite the earthquakes of their tempers and insecurities, their love for one another was deep and unbreakable. This book changed how I view romantic relationships, including my own.
That sounds like a pretty horrendous fight, but the author pointed out that the reason they were fighting was because the woman didn’t feel like she had been as good of a wife as she wanted; she was always tired and distracted by the children. Her strong emotions come from a place of love. And when he asked, the couple both assured him that they were very happy and satisfied in their marriage.
Seven Principles transformed the way I thought about marriage. I firmly believe every married couple should read it.
The part that affected me the most, though, was at the end. He went home. I guess I had this feeling that life was never going to be the same again for me or for him – that I was never going to be happy again – that I would never “go home.” But despite everything that happened to Frodo and his friends, they made it back to the Shire right where they started. It assured me that despite how I felt and what I was going through, someday everything would be okay again for me, too.
And eventually, it was.
Maya Angelou said, “We, in this world, and this weary world itself, have a great gaping need for SARK.” Maya Angelou said that, guys. If you don’t believe me, trust Maya Angelou.
When I was an adult, I was thrilled to discover SARK had published three times as many books as my teacher had on her shelves. I was somewhat less thrilled to discover that my teacher had weeded out the ones with graphic description on the glories of masturbating. (This is apparently a favorite pastime of SARK’s.) It’s usually just a page or two, so….read at your own risk. But Inspiration Sandwich is clean.
I was also thrilled to discover that beyond being a book writer, she’s also a lifestyle coach with lots of online resources. https://planetsark.com/ She has inspired the masses with her millions of books sold, her online classes, and her speaking engagements at TedTalk, Woman’s Leadership Summit, and Association of Transformational Leaders.
With these discoveries I was able to re-experience SARK’s message as an adult, which has a different but just as strong message for me now as it did when I was a child.
Has a book ever changed you? Let me know in the comments!