Margery Kempe: A Mixed Life
Why this book?
I find it difficult to have any admiration for Margery Kempe since I don’t believe she was a mystic – she was frequently quarrelsome, meddling, vain and judgmental, and those who travelled on pilgrimage with her often wanted to get as far away from her as possible. Bale, however, has sympathy for this troubled soul and explores her life through the text of her book, focusing on the places she visited, her friends and enemies, objects she admired, and her intense feelings which were on a dramatic spectrum from despair to bliss. After reading A Mixed Life I still don’t think Margery is deserving of sainthood but, like her long-suffering maidservant, I appreciate her a little more and respect her tenacity and dedication to her religious quest.