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Extended Audio Sample The Book of the Maidservant Audiobook, by Rebecca Barnhouse Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (316 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Rebecca Barnhouse Narrator: Rebecca Barnhouse, Susan Duerden Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2009 ISBN: 9780739385548
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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.

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Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Courtney | 2/18/2014

    " I felt like this was more of a list than a story. Dry and not particularly stimulating read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hallie | 2/14/2014

    " Very enjoyable story of Dame Margery Kemp's maidservant, who was dragged along with her mistress on pilgrimage (and the *most* disorganised shambles of a pilgrimage!) to Rome and then abandoned. I'm coming to think I love the YA stories of medieval pilgrimages particularly, and reading this makes me a) want to find out what happened to Johanna next and b) reread Gatty's Tale and The Ramsey Scallop. At least. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 2/2/2014

    " Listend to this book on CD. It is a historical novel based on the true accounts of Dame Margery Kemp's pilgrimage in the 15th century, told through the eyes of her maidservant. I quite enjoyed this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hayley | 1/30/2014

    " Readalikes: anything by Karen Cushman "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather | 1/7/2014

    " Not a riveting book, but informative. It is a story woven around people who really lived and went on a pilgrimage to the holy lands. As a maidservant, the main character has very little worth to those around her, but proves herself and her character throughout the book. I'm glad I read it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sally | 12/25/2013

    " There is so much antagonism among the characters in this book, I just didn't want to spend my relaxing time so tense. It may be a terrific book, a wonderful portrayal of a period in time, well crafted.... But I didn't enjoy it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 P | 12/20/2013

    " This was given to me by a colleague who thought I would be able to connect to The Canterbury Tales for my classes. It is written by a YSU professor. I'm definitely intrigued. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 zoomdoggies | 10/25/2013

    " An inventive account of the historical pilgrimage of Dame Margery Kemp, from the perspective of her much put-upon maidservant. It kept me reading to the rather abrupt end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Catherine | 10/15/2013

    " This was fine, but "Catherine, Called Birdy" remains my favorite Middle Ages hist fic read. It has nothing to do with the protagonist's first name. That scene where Catherine tries to burn down the outhouse with her suitor inside always cracks me up. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee | 9/28/2013

    " Lovely, well-paced, historically accurate and imaginative story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katherine | 9/19/2013

    " The research that went into this was quite impressive but independent of historical context this made for a good yarn. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brett | 6/18/2013

    " Fantastic. The characters are very real, the history is accurate but would still hold a kid's interest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kassie | 6/15/2013

    " Good, but not appealing enough for the teen book club..... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 12/18/2012

    " Very sweet little story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristin Haase-alvey | 12/7/2012

    " I might have liked this more if I would have read it rather than listened to it on CD - the British accent of the reader added authenticity, but made it hard for me to get through. The story was just okay. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeanette | 11/6/2012

    " I avoided reading this story because the cover turned me away. Shame on me. The story of Johanna, a poor maidservant, is engaging. Hers was not an easy life and the story aptly describes a holy pilgrimage, daily life and servitude in 15th century England. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lady Knight | 10/3/2012

    " Excellent teen fiction about pilgrimmages. Not a typical topic for even historical fiction fans to read, but done very very well. You definitely sympathize with Johanna and cheer her on through every challenge. The historical notes afterwards are also a real treat. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Den Slader | 9/21/2011

    " Moved a little slowly, and it was predictable. I think 2.5 stars would have been right from my reading perspective, but as a YA novel, it probably is worthy of a read for the historical info. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 5/5/2011

    " Another book told in first-person (my favorite) Enjoyed all the daily detail of life in medieval Europe. I like that the book was inspired by a memoir (dictated to clergy since the woman was illiterate) but told from the point of view of the servant. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 4/27/2011

    " A great audiobook. The actress got the whining of Johanna down pat, as well as her eventual maturity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joyce | 4/23/2011

    " Interesting novel based on the true life 1400's autobiography of Margery Kempe, only seen from her maidservant's point of view. (This was actually the first autobiography written in English.) I really enjoyed it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tasse | 2/1/2011

    " Very few books lure me into doing a Goodreads review at midnight, like this one did. The Book of the Maidservant was a book I will recommend to everyone. If you love YA historical fiction set during the middle ages, you'll love this one. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mollie | 1/17/2011

    " I had a hard time getting into this middle reader. It did hold my attention but only after about the halfway point...

    Clean. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Starkween | 12/31/2010

    " I thought this was a very good book. I really like how the author gave her characters medieval mindsets instead of using modern beliefs....not that modern beliefs are all that bad. Kudos Ms. Barnhouse! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 12/13/2010

    " I really liked this YA novel about the tribulations of a maidservant to an English holy woman set in the 15th century. It was based on the travels of Marjorie Kempe, but focused on the plight of her maidservant, who eventually escapes her situation, and is able to find peace within herself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chad | 11/16/2010

    " An excellent little tale with its roots in reality. It is worth your time for sure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 9/9/2010

    " Listend to this book on CD. It is a historical novel based on the true accounts of Dame Margery Kemp's pilgrimage in the 15th century, told through the eyes of her maidservant. I quite enjoyed this book. "

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About the Author
Author Rebecca BarnhouseRebecca Barnhouse teaches and writes about medieval topics and children's literature set in the Middle Ages. She lives in Youngstown, Ohio.
About the Narrator

Susan Duerden is an actress and an Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator. Her reading of The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht earned her an AudioFile Best Voice Award and a Booklist Editors’ Choice Award. She has won ten AudioFile Earphones Awards. Here career spans film, television, theater, voice-overs, and animation. She has played critically acclaimed and award-winning theatrical roles on London’s West End and Off Broadway; acted in the features Lovewrecked and Flushed Away; and held a recurring role on ABC’s Lost.