“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 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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|Title of eBook: The Book of the Maidservant|
|Release Date: 10-27-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Children's Books|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||The Book of the...|
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The Book of the Maidservant
My mistress says you mustn't stare into the fire lest the devil look out at you from the flames. "He'll see into your soul," she says.
My mistress says a great many things about the devil.
But before cockcrow, when my mistress is still abed and I'm sitting on my heels coaxing the embers into life with my breath, I stare into the fire with no fear of the devil. The devil, I think, wakes up when my mistress does.
Before then, the house is quiet and my face is warm with the fire I'm making. I stare into the coals and the new little flames licking blue and yellow around the kindling, and I don't see the devil or the mouth of hell. I see summer and yellow sun, and in the smooth flames curling around the wood, I see clear water flowing through rushes the way it did in the stream when I was a little girl.
I've just long enough for a memory of splashing in the stream with my big sister, Rose, before the rafters tremble with the sound of my mistress stirring above.
Cook limps heavily into the kitchen and casts a baleful eye at the upstairs room. "There'll be weeping today, you mark me," she says, and busies herself with the pots.
It's a big house, this, for my mistress's father was five times Lord Mayor of Lynn and an alderman of the Holy Trinity Guildhall, too. The mistress doesn't let it be forgotten, not by the servants nor by the goodwives of the town, for all that she's a religious woman.
"She'll be wanting you," Cook says.
I lean forward to give the fire one last breath, although it doesn't need it. For one more instant, it's summer and I'm with Rose and the sun is warming my face.
Then I rock back on my heels and stand, lettin...