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Memoirs of a Medieval Woman: The Life and Times of Margery Kempe [Paperback]

L Collis
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 19 1983
For history and biography lovers, the 15th-century life and travels of the extraordinary Margery Kempe, who left her family to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book... Jan. 23 2003
Format:Paperback
This really was an excellent book. It was a wonderful understanding of the Medieval world from a person who lived through it. Margery Kempe was not much into politics which is fine. We already have dates and figures from our history books. She was into daily life.
The only bad part of the book was Margery. If I had been one of the Pilgrims she had traveled with, I probably would have been the one to finally throw her overboard. Even though I would never want to meet someone like Margery and would go nuts if I did, she was truly an amazing person. Amazing from the perspective that people actually believed in her and she let herself believe in all of her delusions. It was amazing that she could get all those priests to believe she really talked to God. It shows how truly superstitious the Middle Ages were. It was also amazing to see how divided the Catholic Church was. You had Fransiscan monks against her and undermining an Archbishop. It was also amazing how little she seemed to care about her husband and children that they were hardly ever mentioned. The only real use she had for her husband was for the occasional logistics. This was truly a wonderful book for the inside look it gave to a Medieval woman's mind and her times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant peek into those days Nov. 3 2001
Format:Paperback
Rather than historical fiction, this is a peek into the reality of those times through the eyes of one woman who sought sainthood. I wish we had more books of people who had written about their own lives at that time. From the perspective of the present time Margery Kempe was kind of a nut - although she didn't realize it - but then maybe her kind was so prevalent in those days, that she wasn't considered to be that weird. At any rate I found it fun to read and be transported back to that time. Louise Collis' explanations render the book easy to follow.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Are There March 28 2000
Format:Paperback
Ms. Collis has brought The Book of Margery Kempe to life by her fine renditions of the times in which the mystic lived. My interest was on the state of Christianity -- clerical and lay -- in those times, and I have in this book an instructive and enjoyable accounting, played out against the memoirs of Margery Kempe. It is well worth your attention, followed up by a visit to Britannica.com for other source material on Kempe. The footnotes and bibliography of Collis' book are also of great value.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Are There March 28 2000
By George Weber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ms. Collis has brought The Book of Margery Kempe to life by her fine renditions of the times in which the mystic lived. My interest was on the state of Christianity -- clerical and lay -- in those times, and I have in this book an instructive and enjoyable accounting, played out against the memoirs of Margery Kempe. It is well worth your attention, followed up by a visit to Britannica.com for other source material on Kempe. The footnotes and bibliography of Collis' book are also of great value.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Gal ! March 9 2006
By Ex Libris GM - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Being a lover of medieval history, when I bought this book and sat down to read it I was expecting perhaps, another somewhat dry and unexciting account of the daily life of a medieval woman living in a medieval town. Wow! Was I pleasantly surprised! This little book is a real gem as it recounts, in modern English and in biographical narrative fashion, the travels and tribulations of a truly remarkable, if a bit eccentric, Englishwoman of the 15th century. I especially enjoyed the description of her journey to and sojourn in the Holy Land and her stay in Rome. This woman, who was subject to visions of and visitations from the saints and Jesus, would likely be declared insane today, and she almost was burned as a heretic back then.

Her courage and fortitude are truly admirable. Ms. Collis has done a masterful job of weaving quotes from Margery's autobiography with modern English prose to present a lucid and most enjoyable account of this lady. Definitely a two thumbs up book!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative biography Feb. 3 2008
By Craig Shoemake - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first heard about Margery Kempe from other books I was reading, and then read reviews of this book on Amazon. At that point I decided she would make an ideal fictional character and so I had to read this piece for story material's sake.

I was not disappointed. Margery Kempe, a real "live" medieval woman (dates 1373-c. 1438) was an ecstatic, a visionary, a far-traveled pilgrim, mother to fourteen children, and, in the opinion of many, a complete loon. She talked to Jesus and God Almighty on a regular basis, though the latter never got beyond the most domestic of advice and assurances. Some think she was epileptic or schizophrenic, though she displays far too much savvy and good health to convince me that either was the case. Let us just say she was "unique."

Most remarkably for an illiterate woman is the fact that she traveled so far while relying only on her own wit and resources (excepting the occasional begging) and before the end of her life managed to dictate her memoirs to a priest. As a result, there is possibly no medieval woman we know more intimately than Margery Kempe.

And what a life! Travels aside, she was hailed as a holy woman and hauled before the authorities for heresy (though she was vouchsafed orthodox time and time again). Everywhere she went she antagonized and irritated people, but this did not stop significant crowds of well wishers from showing up outside of her prison to support her. She was filled with contradictions--a would be martyr, saint and megalomaniac. In short, she was infinitely human and flawed.

This book is a well informed narrative based on her memoirs. It gives us a great idea of Margery's life and times, putting everything within its historical context. A must read for anyone interested in the Middle Ages.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book... Jan. 23 2003
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This really was an excellent book. It was a wonderful understanding of the Medieval world from a person who lived through it. Margery Kempe was not much into politics which is fine. We already have dates and figures from our history books. She was into daily life.
The only bad part of the book was Margery. If I had been one of the Pilgrims she had traveled with, I probably would have been the one to finally throw her overboard. Even though I would never want to meet someone like Margery and would go nuts if I did, she was truly an amazing person. Amazing from the perspective that people actually believed in her and she let herself believe in all of her delusions. It was amazing that she could get all those priests to believe she really talked to God. It shows how truly superstitious the Middle Ages were. It was also amazing to see how divided the Catholic Church was. You had Fransiscan monks against her and undermining an Archbishop. It was also amazing how little she seemed to care about her husband and children that they were hardly ever mentioned. The only real use she had for her husband was for the occasional logistics. This was truly a wonderful book for the inside look it gave to a Medieval woman's mind and her times.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your worst nightmare of a group tour July 16 2005
By Timecheck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Margery Kempe was a woman of the middle ages who aspired to sainthood. As part of this, she went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to Rome and to Santiago de Compostella. She could neither read nor write, but got others to write her story for her. There is very little about the trip to Santiago; it was practically a trivial trip compared to the others, but it is a fascinating glimpse into the experience of being on pilgrimage in those times.

Picture being on an extended group tour with a small group of opinionated and intolerant people, most of who can't stand you, and you may have an idea of this experience. On the other hand, some people really are difficult to be around. After reading this book, pilgrimage of the middle ages is no longer just a fact of history. It puts a real face on a pilgrim.
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