Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE BOOK OF THE MAIDSERVANT by Rebecca Barnhouse

THE BOOK OF THE MAIDSERVANT

By Rebecca Barnhouse

Age Range: 10 - 13

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-85856-7
Publisher: Random House

In the author’s note that follows Barnhouse’s absorbing novel, readers learn that it was based on the first autobiography ever written in English, a woman’s account of a pilgrimage from England to Rome in the 15th century. The author became fascinated by the woman’s maidservant, who was inexplicably maligned by her mistress, and decided to retell the story from the domestic’s perspective. Readers of this lively first-person tale, packed with fascinating historical detail, will be glad that she did. Maidservant Johanna is an engaging lass, hardworking and ingenious, who serves a mistress so pious yet uncharitable that she seems unhinged to modern eyes. In the course of Johanna’s adventure, she comes to terms with the emotionally difficult familial circumstance that surround her indenture. But the heart of the story is the pilgrimage, a dangerous journey filled with privation and hardship, one that opens Johanna’s eyes to a wider world and challenges her to grow in competence and stature. (Historical fiction. 10-13)