Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen Hardcover – October 9, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"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
"Sharratt offers up an imaginative retelling of the fascinating life of the 12th-century nun Hildegard von Bingen....Though confined primarily to the abbey and peopled by a small cast, Sharratt’s gripping story, like Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, is primarily about relationships forged under pressure."
"In this affecting historical novel, Sharratt imagines the inner life of Hildegard, first as an angry child, then as a young woman nurturing the other girls forced into this restricted life, and finally as a mature woman leading her companions out of the anchorage, establishing the first monastic institution for women in Germany, and advocating an idea of religious devotion based on love rather than suffering. Psychological insight, passages of moving spirituality, and abundant historical detail—from straw bedding and hairshirts to turtle soup and wooden dolls—make this a memorable addition to the genre of medieval historical fiction."
About the Author
MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the coeditor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes, strong women who break all the rules.
More About the Author
Previously she lived for twelve years in Germany. This, along with her interest in sacred music and herbal medicine, inspired her to write her most recent novel, ILLUMINATIONS: A NOVEL OF HILDEGARD VON BINGEN, which explores the dramatic life of the 12th century Benedictine abbess, composer, polymath, and powerfrau.
Winner of the 2005 WILLA Literary Award and a Minnesota Book Award Finalist, Mary has also written the acclaimed novels SUMMIT AVENUE (Coffee House 2000), THE REAL MINERVA (Houghton Mifflin 2004), THE VANISHING POINT (Houghton Mifflin 2006), and co-edited the subversive fiction anthology BITCH LIT (Crocus Books 2006), which celebrates female anti-heroes--strong women who break all the rules. Her short fiction has been published in TWIN CITIES NOIR (Akashic Books 2006).
Mary writes regular articles for Historical Novels Review and Solander on the theme of writing women back into history. When she isn't writing, she's usually riding her spirited Welsh mare through the Lancashire countryside.
Top Customer Reviews
Mary Sharratt is a brilliant writer, meticulous researcher and historian. I have read several of her books already and truly had no doubt that this would also be worthy of recommendation and a 5 star review. Her characters are well developed, the story flows well and it becomes part of you and you just can't put it down. If you are looking for high quality historical fiction, then read Illuminations and also check out Mary's other books. She really knows how to bring a story to life and to keep you reading until the book is fully devoured!
Sharratt chronicles the stages of Hildegard's life, from those miserable early years of forced confinement, to her fight for the opportunity to live as a normal nun, to her founding of her own religious community. In the process, her visions continued and grew in intensity, to the point that they dictated her choices and created her reputation as a genuine and revered mystic. Sharratt's prose, at times luminous and at times decidedly down to earth. She has managed to convey a sharp sense of Hildegard's personality and spirit, relying upon primary sources, especially the brilliantly illuminated manuscript in which she recorded her visions. Her Hildegard is humble, yet not afraid to employ flamboyance to achieve her goals. She did not hestitate to criticize hypocrisy and abuses of the church to which her life was bound, which caused her enormous difficulty. But she remained unbowed, and in her more peaceful, contemplative periods, she composed exquisite music to accompany the divine office.
Today, Hildegard is often regarded as a proto-feminist, but as portrayed in this book, she is more a proponent of self-actualization and justice. She is also called St.Read more ›
This short historical novel explores the life of a twelfth century German
nun who had an extraordinary life, and has been adopted by modern
women, both religious and feminist (not that one can't be both) as an
example of a strong woman who created a women's space in the middle of
a bleak and dangerous time for women. The author takes Hildegard's
visions, which she experienced from childhood, as fact, and as the
inspiration of her poetry. Hildegard was imprisoned (literally walled
in) as the eight year old servant of an anchorite, an
otherwise-solitary hermit, who oddly enough lived on the grounds of a
men's Benedictine monastery. Only after the anchorite's death did
Hildegard begin to write and create amazing songs that led to the fame
that has lasted to our time.
I found the beginning of the book fascinating and horrifying. It's
hard to understand a society as alien to us as twelfth century
Germany, but the author has done a creditable job of bringing it to
life. I felt the stench and the filth and mud of their lives.
Hildegard's life was so unusual for that time, as she loved to read,
sing, and the author gives her close, loving relationships with those
around her. The final crisis of the book didn't completely work.
It's extremely well-written and the songs beautiful and evocative.
Anybody who is interested in historical novels about women set in the
Middle Ages would enjoy this easy to read book. I particularly liked
that it's not about the usual queens and princesses, but about a
relatively ordinary woman who rose to prominence by her own strength.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting, informative, and well written. Tells about medieval period when the Roman church had the money and resources to control the western world, most of its resources and... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Inez N. Petrie
I read it to read about her life and enjoyed it. Not the best historical fiction book I have read though.Published 2 months ago by Heiberga
Fascinating story based on fact with details about life in a religious order during the middle ages. Author did a lot of research for this book - well done! Read morePublished 4 months ago by YaYa
This is a story of women and their suffering. A story of the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and its abuse of power. Read morePublished 5 months ago by E. Andersen
Fascinating in a tortuous way. A sad story, yet riveting to the point I had to get back to it each time I tried to put it down.Published 6 months ago by Ronald Joseph Lyman
Mary Sharratt, though factual, does not get to the young Hildegard's visions and healings. I think she does not capture the intensity and brilliance of Hildegard's... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Charlotte Koons
Gift from a dear friend, it took me a while to start reading it, but once I started, it was difficult to put it aside!Published 7 months ago by Bernard Grosperrin