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THE BOOK OF THE MAIDSERVANT By: Rebecca Barnhouse May 31, 2010

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.

     Margery Kempe, in the fifteenth century, authored the first autobiography written in English. She was viewed by some as a holy woman who heard the voice of God, and by others as a sham who used the alleged gift as a means to gain comfort, attention and wealth. Rebecca Barnhouse, upon reading THE BOOK OF MARGERY KEMPE, was fascinated, not by the woman who wrote (actually, dictated, as she, herself, could not write)  the book, but rather by the disobedient servant Kempe continually chastised in her tale for not taking her advice and doing as she was told. And so this BOOK OF THE MAIDSERVANT is told through the eyes of Joanna, the name given to this unknown girl whose actual identity is forever lost.

     This book is well done and the reader sympathizes with the young servant girl who is ill-treated at the hands of those who were, in their time, considered so special because they were overtly blessed with God’s favor. She is scolded, struck, and even abandoned during a holy pilgrimage to Rome, yet forges on with no outward grumbling, although there is much complaint seething within her. It is wonderful J historical fiction that can be equally enjoyed by a young adult and adult audience as well. The historical setting is vivid and some actual names of people from that time were used, although it was not known if they were truly pilgrims in the company of Margery Kempe. Barnhouse’s Author’s Note tells us as much as the novel does, making that portion of the book  a true asset. It is always an utter joy to read historical fiction when the author has done their homework and thought the story out carefully. The Lycan Librarian gives this novel high marks in all regards, and she enthusiastically recommends it to all other historical fiction fanatics.



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