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The Book of the Maidservant
Synopses & Reviews
“A funny and wise book about friendship, loyalty, and love.”—Karen Cushman
Johanna is a servant girl to Dame Margery Kempe, a renowned medieval holy woman. Dame Margery feels the suffering the Virgin Mary felt for her son but cares little for the misery she sees every day. When she announces that Johanna will accompany her on a pilgrimage to Rome, the suffering truly begins. After walking all day, Johanna must fetch water, wash clothes, and cook for the entire party of pilgrims. Then arguing breaks out between Dame Margery and the other travelers, and Johanna is caught in the middle. As the fighting escalates, Dame Margery turns her back on the whole group, including Johanna. Abandoned in a foreign land where she doesnt even speak the language, the young maidservant must find her own way to Rome.
Inspired by the fifteenth-century text The Book of Margery Kempe, the first autobiography in English, debut novelist Rebecca Barnhouse chronicles Johannas painful journey through fear, anger, and physical hardship to ultimate redemption.
"Inspired by the life of the medieval religious mystic Margery Kempe, first-time novelist Barnhouse imagines the life of the maidservant who accompanied her on a pilgrimage from Lynn, England, to Rome. Thirteen-year-old Johanna has been hired out to Dame Margery, who hears the Lord's voice and feels the Virgin Mary's suffering so deeply that it brings her to daily bouts of weeping. A likeable and believable narrator, Johanna also suffers — with aching longings for her family and their life together — but does her best to serve her ill-tempered mistress and to endure the hardships of the pilgrimage. These prove especially harsh, as she finds herself obliged to serve the other pilgrims, as well: a varied lot of holy and not-so-holy characters, including a warmhearted university student on whom she develops a crush. Maintaining her fortitude and fighting her homesickness are Johanna's greatest ordeals, until she suddenly must flee alone to Rome and the drama quickens. Barnhouse adeptly weaves the gritty details of medieval life into an engaging, adventure-filled story. Ages 10 — 13. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Rebecca Barnhouse teaches and writes about medieval topics and childrens literature set in the Middle Ages. She lives in Youngstown, Ohio.
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