Wednesday, November 6, 2013

HFVBT: Mary Sharratt's Illuminations--Review #IlluminationsTour

My thoughts
Once again, historical fiction has led me to a person and a subject I otherwise knew nothing about. I really had no idea that there was such a thing as anchorages and women (nuns) who became anchorites. These women willingly gave themselves to a monastery to be literally walled in, never seeing the outside world, for the rest of their days. In Illuminations, Hildegard von Bingen is forced to enter an anchorage with a girl (Jutta) who is perceived as the holiest of holy. However, her reasons for committing herself to this fate were brought on by a dark secret. Hildegard spends 30 years there with Jutta, watching her slowly waste away. Only after her death is she finally able to break free.

Having had visions since an early age that she thought meant she was wicked, or that there was something wrong with her, Hildegard came to realize in her long isolation that these were indeed visions of the divine. Once she was given her freedom, she was able to speak out about her visions and write about them. With her fellow sisters, who were also oblates of the anchorage, she works for those in monastic life to know love, the love of God, not to live in cruelty such as the life inside an anchorage most surely was.

Hildegard von Bingen became a saint. Her life and work still inspires people today. She had very diverse and complex ideas and many have viewed her as a religious reformer. I am so glad that I was able to learn about this woman. Mary Sharratt has brought to life in great historical detail a story that should be read by all. I cannot express how much I recommend this book.

About the book
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Mariner Books
Paperback; 288p
ISBN-10: 0544106539

Skillfully weaving historical fact with psychological insight and vivid imagination, Illuminations brings to life one of the most extraordinary women of the Middle Ages: Hildegard von Bingen, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath.

Offered to the Church at the age of eight, Hildegard was expected to live in silent submission as the handmaiden of a renowned, disturbed young nun, Jutta von Sponheim. But Hildegard rejected Jutta's masochistic piety, rejoicing in her own secret visions of the divine. When Jutta died, Hildegard broke out of her prison, answering the heavenly call to speak and write about her visions and to liberate her sisters. Riveting and utterly unforgettable, Illuminations is a deeply moving portrayal of a woman willing to risk everything for what she believed.

Praise for Illuminations

"An enchanting beginning to the story of the perennially fascinating 12th-century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen. It is easy to paint a picture of a saint from the outside but much more difficult to show them from the inside. Mary Sharratt has undertaken this with sensitivity and grace."
—Margaret George, author of Mary, Called Magdalene

"I loved Mary Sharratt’s The Daughters of Witching Hill, but she has outdone herself with Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard Von Bingen. She brings one of the most famous and enigmatic women of the Middle Ages to vibrant life in this tour de force, which will captivate the reader from the very first page."
—Sharon Kay Penman, author of the New York Times bestseller Time and Chance

"I love Mary Sharratt. The grace of her writing and the grace of her subject combine seamlessly in this wonderful novel about the amazing, too-little-known saint, Hildegard of Bingen, a mystic and visionary. Sharratt captures both the pain and the beauty such gifts bring, as well as bringing to life a time of vast sins and vast redemptions."
—Karleen Koen, author of Before Versailles and the best-selling Through a Glass Darkly

Pick up a copy at...

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Indiebound

About the author
The author of four critically acclaimed historical novels, Mary Sharratt is an American who lives in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, the setting for her acclaimed Daughters of the Witching Hill, which recasts the Pendle Witches of 1612 in their historical context as cunning folk and healers. She also lived for twelve years in Germany, which, along with her interest in sacred music and herbal medicine, inspired her to write Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen. Illuminations won the Nautilus Gold Award for Better Books for a Better World and was selected as a Kirkus Book of the Year.

For more information please visit Mary's website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. 

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #IlluminationsTour

Check out Mary Sharratt's guest post and enter the giveaway for your own copy of Illuminations HERE.

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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