The Book of the Maidservant

The Book of the Maidservant

Rebecca Barnhouse / Oct 19, 2019

The Book of the Maidservant 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 Whe

  • Title: The Book of the Maidservant
  • Author: Rebecca Barnhouse
  • ISBN: 9780375958564
  • Page: 447
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 cookJohanna 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 doesn t 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 Johanna s painful journey through fear, anger, and physical hardship to ultimate redemption.From the Hardcover edition.

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      Published :2018-09-11T15:42:08+00:00

    About "Rebecca Barnhouse"

      • Rebecca Barnhouse

        Reading was like breathing to Rebecca when she was growing up It still is She loved the Little House books, and fought with her brother over books in the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series Later, she discovered science fiction and fantasy, from The Lord of the Rings to Arthur C Clarke to Ursula K LeGuin s Earthsea series, and many, many other books she and her best friend shared They still do.Rebecca first encountered The Book of Margery Kempe during graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied Anglo Saxon manuscripts and medieval literature written in Old and Middle English, Old Norse, and other fascinating languages.A native of Vero Beach, Florida, she now lives in Ohio, where she teaches and writes about medieval topics and about children s literature set in the Middle Ages.


    1. Mostly teen oriented, it is a quite static story, but nevertheless interesting. The characters are portrayed incredibly real and I really really liked the snide humor. This book makes you realize how hard was the life of servants, especially in the medieval times, and how little they were consideredThe devil, I think, wakes up when my mistress does.My mistress feels such compassion for Our Lord, she cries and cries at the thought of him on his rood. You’d think she could spare some compassion [...]

    2. Loved this one. If anything the carrying water task of this human time period is under-developed. Women like Johanna spent a good half of their waking lives toting water. Found out about this one from my grand-daughters who loved it too. Catholic young women in Roman Catholic High School do see the parallels. Especially if your "holy' woman of authority tends to protest too much.This is alive. It's not revisionist. It's from the real life of an observer who does not have technical entertainment [...]

    3. This was a really fun little book. Even though I wrote about Margery Kempe and she was one of the more colorful medieval holy women (I actually think she had post partum depression and ran with the visionary thing instead as an excuse to kick her husband out of bed and not have any more babies, but that's just me) I always thought she would be a real shit to have to be around very much. It was nice to see not only a historical fiction about her, but one told from the POV of her maidservant. I wo [...]

    4. In the 1400s, Dame Margery Kempe left England on a pilgrimage to Rome. Her account of that and other pilgrimages as well as her conversations with God (Dame Margery was considered a Holy Woman) was published as The Book of Margert Kempe and is considered to be the first official autobiography in the English language. In Rebecca Barnhouse’s note at the end of The Book of the Maidservant she notes that Dame Margery’s account mentions the maidservant who accompanied her and who is constantly ma [...]

    5. Reviewed by Rusty Key Writer: Jordan B. NielsenRecommended for: A boy or girl, aged ten and up, who you’d really like to punish. One Word Summary: Dry.Is there a child in your life who loves unspecific Medieval history, Christian epics, and finds the woes of the serving class fascinating? What child doesn’t long for the hardscrabble romance of the fifteenth century, with its desperate and poignant struggles, all the washing of clothes in streams, the abused and battered women, the contents o [...]

    6. I listed to this young adult (YA) novel on my Ipod, and I continue to be amazed at how much YA fiction impresses me. In some ways, good YA fiction seems more poignant than many “adult” novels I have read lately. Perhaps it’s how children and teenagers see the world so differently than adults, and thus it brings the world into sharper focus, tragedies and joys alike. One of the fascinating things about this novel is that it is based on a true historical figure, Dame Margery Kempe’s maidse [...]

    7. What a wonderful adventure! This will be right at the top of my booktalk list this school year. Full of twists and turns and excitement. I like the way Barnhouse approaches the subject of religion in the Middle Ages. And even her minor characters have so much life in them, you can imagine intriguing backstories for them all.

    8. Johanna, a servant for Dame Margery Kempe, learns one day that her mistress is going on a pilgrimage to Rome and that Johanna will be accompanying her. Johanna has not been a servant for very long and is therefore not very skilled in the tasks of cooking and mending. Despite this, once on the pilgrimage, she discovers that she is expected to act as the maidservant for all the pilgrims. The pilgrimage is full of hardship and quarreling, especially when the other pilgrims turn against Dame Margery [...]

    9. First line: "My mistress says you shouldn't stare into the fire lest the devil look out at you from the flames."Between Connie Willis' Doomsday Book, Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders, The Mistress of the Art of Death series, and this book, I am fast developing a passion for historical fiction set in the middle ages. It is such a different time with such a different way of living that it requires quite a bit of world building similar to much fantasy. Many of these books also explore a world that [...]

    10. Full review originally posted on my blog, PidginPea's Book Nook.I wasn't sure what to expect from The Book of the Maidservant, but the wonderful writing and the swiftly moving plot sucked me in from the very beginning and didn't let me go. The action builds rapidly as Johanna finds herself facing one adventure after another, meeting wonderful friends and terrible enemies along the way.I'm not very familiar with medieval history, but Barnhouse definitely brought the time period alive. You can see [...]

    11. Those of you who took Ancient and Medieval may dimly recall a certain Dame Margery Kempe, a thirteenth-century English holy woman. She made a pilgramage to Rome, and is the dictator, I suppose, of the first known English-language autobiography, The Book of Margery Kempe. Rebecca Barnhouse read this book and noted the existence of an unnamed maidservant, who disappeared around Constance, and reappears in Rome. Kempe accused the girl of being lazy, disobedient, and stupid. Barnhouse thought this s [...]

    12. Based on The Book of Margrey Kemp,the first autobiographical English text written in the 15th century, Barnhouse takes what was once just the story of a very high and mighty pilgrim and turns it into the story of her maidservant that is often mentioned throughout the journey. Barnhouse gives Johanna life, taking historical fact and filling in the blanks.I have to say I quite liked this little book. It was interesting, and though it was a novel, it still had quite a bit of reality to the descript [...]

    13. This book was lovely, and became even more so when I read the author's note at the end. It's based on The Book of Margery Kempe, the first autobiography in English, which details Kempe's religious pilgrimages. When she read that book, Rebecca Barnhouse paid attention to how Kempe described her maidservant and thought it sounded a little fishy. This is the part I love—that Barnhouse was able to see through Kempe's own words and imagine what Kempe was like from the maid's perspective. Johanna is [...]

    14. This book, based on a true story, was a quick, clean, entertaining read and I really enjoyed it. I found myself getting choked up many times with sadness for Johanna, the maidservant, for what she most likely endured and for the cruel environment she was in. The author paints a picture of what it would most likely be like for a young servant girl during the 1500's and cruel doesn't come close to describe how horrible it would have been for young girls and boys sold into servitude.Something I enj [...]

    15. Eh. I read it to help out our middle school librarian so I could recommend/not recommend.Too dry, the kids won't like it. Good story, about a servant who has to follow her mistress on a pilgrimage to Rome, but it didn't hold my interest.Want a book about a kid who travels through medieval Europe? Pick up instead. Female heroine?. Or even.Much better reads.

    16. Margery Kempe's memoir has become a standard syllabus inclusion for feminist literature courses. Well-off but not noble, Margery bore 14 children before claiming to have had a vision of Christ telling her to become abstinent. She got her husband to comply by paying off his debts. As her visions increased, so did her hysterical crying when she experienced them. Some claim this was a ploy for public attention, but others believe that she was a true visionary. Although she was illiterate, she dicta [...]

    17. Dame Margery, a woman with strong religious convictions and feelings, decides to go on a pilgrimage to Rome. As her other servants are unsuited to the trip, she takes young Johanna, who has little choice in the matter. This book is told from Johanna’s perspective, but the story is based on the 15th century book by Margery Kempe, the first autobiography in English. Johanna has much toil and trouble to deal with and ends up doing the domestic chores for the group of pilgrims that her mistress tr [...]

    18. Audio Book. I loved it! I loved the little maid, and her story and her courageous adventures on the pilgrimage. Very informative of that time and the beliefs of people in the 13th-14th century. Would recommend to any who love reading of this time, the middle ages. Fascinating. Right up there with Karen Cushman, who I love everything she writes.

    19. Colorful, rich in detail. Thoughtful look at friendship, loyalty, duty and forgiveness. A quick read but definitely not dumbed down or prettied up for younger readers. A gritty look at life for the poor, unprotected women and the servant class in 15thc.

    20. Johanna is a serving girl to a strange woman who is about to set out on a religious journey. Johanna is young and is unhappy in her situation but has no where else to go. This journey is a very hard one and Johanna is forced to be a servant to many others along the way.

    21. Was listening to this one, but couldn't get past the second disk due to the annoying voice the narrator gave the main character. I might give it a try in print in a few years!

    22. In today’s world, foreign places are only hours away aboard a fast jet plane. While sitting in the plush chairs aboard an airplane, calmly sipping a complementary beverage and flipping through a magazine, we often forget how travel used to be. No longer do we have to endure nauseating, cramped sea voyages for months at a time. In The Book of the Maidservant, author Rebecca Barnhouse transports us back in time hundreds of years to go on a fascinating pilgrimage from Lynn, England to Rome. In t [...]

    23. Johanna is a maidservant to Dame Margery Kemp, a 13th century holy woman. It's a bit of a trial for Johanna to look after Dame Margery who continuously weeps for Christ's sufferings, but Cook and little Cicely (the other maid) make Johanna's position a bit easier with their friendship. Johanna still longs to return home to her father and older sister though, and enjoy the comforts of being a prosperous farmer's daughter. However, her father is in debt and her sister is now married, so Johanna ha [...]

    24. This is the first but definitely not the last novel by Rebecca Barnhouse, a new talent in historical fiction for young people. A professor of English at Youngstown State University, Barnhouse specializes in medieval literature and young adult literature, and has even written two reference books about children's and young adult literature set in the Middle Ages. With these qualifications, we would expect good things from her own novel, and indeed, she delivers a terrific story for ages 10-14. Tol [...]

    25. Sad little medieval story about a young maid. I love books set in this time period. I almost gave this 4 stars but it is short of content and doesn't really add any nee perspective or introduce interesting phrases from the time period that I've come to look for. Also, it made me so upset and frustrated for the main character I could hardly stand to finish it, but a good book makes you root for the main character and this one sure does that.

    26. This is a hard book for me to review, as I nearly bailed on it about halfway through. It was short enough that I decided I might as well finish. Ultimately, I'm glad I did. If the entire book had been as good as the last third, I might have rated it five stars. At the halfway mark, I was thinking one or two stars.The story gives a name, Johanna, and a voice to the maidservant who accompanied Dame Margery Kempe on her pilgrimage to Rome. Margery was a real-life medieval holy woman, whose autobiog [...]

    27. The Book of the Maidservant did what good historical fiction always does: It transported me to another time and place (15th century Europe, specifically) and encouraged me to put myself in the shoes of others (Johanna, in this case). In this book, we follow Johanna as she accompanies her mistress from Lynn, England to Rome, Italy. Along the way, we meet fellow pilgrims, see various parts of Europe through Johanna's eyes and see firsthand the life of a servant.I liked many things about this book, [...]

    28. Booktalk: My mistress is a very holy woman, Dame Marjori. She talks to god and often starts crying loudly in the middle of the street when she sees something that reminds her of Jesus. Now, I have to go with her on a pilgrimage from our home in England all the way to Rome. We're going to walk most of the way, and I am to be serving maid to the whole party of pilgrims. When someone wants something washed, they dump the pile of filthy clothes at my feet. And they expect ME to cook? When I've never [...]

    29. I picked this book up after reading Barnhouse's newer book _The Coming of the Dragon_, which I enjoyed very much. This book, however, wasn't as enjoyable for me.This story revolves around a young girl named Johanna who is a servant to Margery Kemp, the well-known religious woman of the Medieval era. It follows them as they make the pilgrimage to Rome from London with a small group of others. Dame Margery, as Johanna calls her, is very extreme in her demonstrations of her faith as she is prone to [...]

    30. I loved this book. It reminds me a bit of the wonderful Dear America series. Johanna is a young teen (?) in the year 1413 who is sent to be a maid to a eccentric woman named Dame Margery Kempe. Kempe hears God's voice and sobs uncontrollably when thinking of the sorrows of the Virgin Mary or the torture of Jesus, but loves to be pampered and cannot see the distress of her own servants. Dame Kempe goes on a pilgrimage to Rome and takes Johanna with her and the book is the story of the pilgrimage [...]

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