Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard Von Bingen by Mary Sharratt (Book Tour)

 click on banner for list of tour stops

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.

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

You know when a book gets rave reviews by Margaret George and Sharon Kay Penman that you are in for a real treat.  This is a book that is not to be rushed through, but to be savoredIt is a story that stays with you long after you are finished.

This is my first book by Mary Sharratt and definitely not my last. She has a writing style that drew me right in, you can feel her compassion with her words and descriptions, at times rather poetic.  The visuals that I had while reading this book put me right in that little room with Hildegard and Jutta. I could feel Hildegard's despair as the wall was being bricked up, her terror at what was happening, she was only 8 years old at the time and didn't fully understand what was happening. This is a part of history that I knew nothing about, let alone knew such things actually happened.

Taking place in the 11th century it was interesting to watch her struggle with ancient views of women's roles and to watch her grow up under that influence. The author did a wonderful job of portraying  Hildegard's relationship with those she was able to be in contact with. 

Definitely a must for those that like historical fiction with strong female characters.

Please come back tomorrow for my interview with Mary Sharratt and a giveaway.

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

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.

1 comment: