I am very excited that Donna Woolfolk Cross, author of the historical fiction novel POPE JOAN, is stopping by today with a guest post. Knowing that I'm also a mother, she tailored her essay to fit my blog and many of my readers! I think she does a fantastic job of describing Pope Joan and giving us some insight into her world.
Make sure you check out yesterday's post and learn how you can walk down the red carpet at the Pope Joan movie premiere!
I'm so glad to be writing for "Booking Mama," for the mother-daughter relationship is one dear to my heart. I wrote "Pope Joan" with my own daughter Emily (an only child) very much in mind. During the time I was writing the novel, Emily grew from a promising 14-year old to an accomplished college graduate.
For those of you who just did the math--yes, "Pope Joan" was over seven years in creation. This novel was so long in the making--with all of my friends asking "When will the book be done?--that I began to call it my "posthumous" work, for I began to wonder if I might end before the book did!
As I see her, Pope Joan is an inspirational woman--a shining example of female empowerment through learning. She lived in the ninth century, a time when it was widely believed that women could not learn, that it was unnatural, even dangerous, to educate us. One theory of the day was that the size of a woman's brain and of her uterus was inversely proportional--in other words, the more a woman learned, the less likely she would ever bear children. This concept actually has a quirky appeal, for if it were only true, then birth control would be no problem: if you don't want to get pregnant, read a book! Read 5 books! Become a follower of bookingmama and you'll never have to worry about having an unwanted pregnancy!
Alas, Joan's story, while very ancient, is strangely new, and deeply relevant to the world we live in today. Women all over the world are still fighting for the right to education--and being opposed by some of the very same arguments that Joan faced over a millennium ago. You may have recently read about the brave young Afgani girls who, on the way to school, were sprayed with acid for the "crime" of wanting to learn. What better way to deprive women--or for that matter, any social group-- of power than to take away the right to education? As our own president James Madison said, "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. So those who seek to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power of knowledge."
This is what Joan did. She armed herself with the power of knowledge, and in so doing, became one of the most influential women who ever lived. Her story proves that no matter how great the obstacles, there are always opportunities for women with the strength, the courage, and the imagination to dream.
This is why I had my daughter Emily in mind as I wrote this book. My heartfelt wish is that she--and all those of her generation (and future ones)--realizes her dreams through the full and unrestricted exercise of mind, heart, and spirit.
Does POPE JOAN sound like a book that you'd like to read? Ms. Cross has graciously agreed to giveaway an autographed copy to one very lucky reader. It's easy to enter: all you have to do is leave a comment with your e-mail address nming a female historical figure that you'd like to learn more about. To double or even triple your chances, you can blog and/or tweet about this contest with a link back to this site. The giveaway is open until July 17th at 11:59 p.m. EST, and I will contact the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. or Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!