Book Review: The First Woman Pope

Human beings are “essentially the bridge between spirit and matter” – Peter Canova

by Roger Zotti

Begin reading “Pope Annalisa” (Trimountaine Publishers) and you’ll soon realize Peter Canova has written a mesmerizing novel. In addition to dealing with important contemporary themes, both religious and political, his ambitious work features an absorbing storyline, many memorable characters, and is consistently provocative.

To keep his storyline moving, Peter asserts, “I labored to make some dense material understandable.” Clearly he succeeded. Consider how he clarifies the problem of time and God. To the admirable Cardinal Roncalli, the 43-year-old Annalisa says: “It is said God exists beyond time. No yesterday, today, or tomorrow, just now….So why did He give us time? …Through time we are given the opportunity to act and then to meet with the results of our actions—our errors or successes—on another day, at another time.” Annalisa also tackles truth which, she asserts, “comes in dreams, images, and symbols. It is a constant process of revelation.”

As for the book’s key theme, Peter says: “It’s that there is really no true separation between humans and the divine—as we’ve been taught in Judeo-Christianity. Latent within each of us is a divine spark [we are able] to communicate with, in order to bring our lives to a higher level of being while we’re here in this material form. Within that is the recognition that all things, seen and unseen, emanate from one consciousness. This consciousness has projected itself outside of itself into many different points of consciousness.”

Peter adds that “the primary dynamic behind life you see in all the ancient cultures is a male-female polarity underlying the energetic processes of the universe. Once we understand this and balance these forces—which is certainly possible—the gateway to contact with this higher level of information residing in our being is opened. That sounds complex, but throughout the story you see how the growing awareness of that principle affects the characters’ lives.”

Peter hopes readers take away from the novel a “more exalted conception of what a human being is.” He stresses that human beings are “essentially the bridge between spirit and matter.” In his twenties Peter had “very real experiences—not imaginary ones—that had to do with this source of higher information.” Some of his premonitions saved his life “and were so startling I spent the next 35 years trying to understand the source of this intuitive information going through me.”

In “Pope Annalisa” a key moment occurs in Chapter LV, when the Cardinals have assembled to elect a new pope and a “terrorist intrusion” occurs. Thanks to Annalisa’s intervention, it doesn’t turn deadly. After the unexpected incident, the diminutive Annalisa, “her skin…the color of coffee and cream, smooth and calm,” is elected the world’s first African and female pope. Rest assured her goal to change “the world’s political [and religious] landscape” isn’t going to be easy.

The first book of a trilogy, “Pope Annalisa” has won two International Book Awards as well as awards for Visionary Fiction and New Age Fiction. It will also be made into a motion picture. Visit Peter’s website ( for more information about him and his critically acclaimed novel.