The First Female Pope

I first came across Woman of God when I put it on hold for a library customer a few months ago, and it immediately piqued my interest. I was intrigued by a plot that was so different from James Patterson’s usual fare. When I saw that I was available as an e-audiobook in the Download Library last week, I figured it was about time that I jumped into my first (!!!) Patterson and Co. book.

This book follows Brigid Fitzgerald and her journey to potentially become the first female pope. The book opens with a short flash forward scene when Brigid is being considered as a papal candidate, then jumps back to the beginning of Brigid’s career as a doctor. From there, it follows Brigid’s different medical jobs, relationships and involvement in the Catholic church. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and the audio presentation of it, but I had a few issues with the way the story was paced.

Let’s begin with the main character, Brigid. I found her to be engaging and worthy of sympathy. I really liked experiencing the story through her perspective. It’s not an easy feat to write a religious character that doesn’t come across pious and holier-than-thou. I really felt for her and the trials that she goes through in the book. There was an honesty to the character that I found appealing and satisfying.

Although Brigid was a compelling character, there were so many other secondary characters that just seemed to exist on the periphery. This was the result of the quick pace of the story. At first, I really enjoyed how quickly the story was moving along; it kept the book from getting boring. However, by the middle of the book, there were so many different characters that seemed to flit in and out of the main character’s life that I found it hard to really get grounded in the story. Plot events happened quickly, so I sometimes felt that I didn’t have enough time to get invested in characters before they encountered tragedy. Since I wasn’t invested, the tragedy often felt glib and melodramatic. That being said, Brigid was a good enough anchor, as the main character, that I could overlook the poorly developed secondary characters.

Before I sign off, I want to spend a little bit of time discussing the audiobook portion of my reading experience. If you’ve ever listened to an audiobook, you’ll know that the quality of the narrator makes a big impact in the enjoyment of the book. Luckily, in this case, I thought Thérèse Plummer, the narrator, was excellent. In the parts of the book where Brigid is grieving, she has a way of making her voice sound so broken and depressed, while still clearly reading the story. Plummer definitely elevated my reading experience of Woman of God.

In the end, Woman of God was an interesting read, but I would have enjoyed hearing more about the political drama surrounding a female pope and stronger secondary characters. If you want to read a story about a woman’s life of self-sacrifice, then you’ll enjoy this book, but if you’re looking for a Vatican thriller, you might want to pass on this title.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

–Jenna H.