Illuminations by Mary Sharratt
A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen

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Synopsis

“Sharratt 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

“One could not anticipate this majesty and drama . . . Illuminations is riveting, following von Bingen through . . . to emerge as one of the significant voices of the 12th century . . . Unforgettable.” —January Magazine


One of the most extraordinary women of the Middle Ages, Hildegard von Bingen—Benedictine abbess, healer, composer, saint—experienced mystic visions from a very young age. Offered by her noble family to the Church at the age of eight, she lived for years in forced silence. But through the study of books and herbs, through music and the kinship of her sisters, Hildegard found her way from a life of submission to a calling that celebrated the divine glories all around us. In this brilliantly researched and insightful novel, Mary Sharratt offers a deeply moving portrait of a woman willing to risk everything for what she believed, a triumphant exploration of the life she might well have lived.


“Gripping . . . Like Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, [Illuminations] is primarily about relationships forged under pressure.” —Publishers Weekly

“Masterful.”—Saint Paul Pioneer Press

 

About Mary Sharratt

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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.
 
Published October 9, 2012 by Mariner Books. 294 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Religion & Spirituality. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Illuminations

Kirkus Reviews

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A fictionalized biography of medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen. Its publication will coincide with her appointment as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict.

Sep 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Illuminations: A Novel of Hil...

Publishers Weekly

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Entombed in an anchorage in what is now Germany as brides of Christ under Benedictine rule, Hildegard and Jutta endure their monastic imprisonment for 30 years, during which time Hildegard experiences divine visions.

Jul 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Illuminations: A Novel of Hil...

BC Books

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Hildegard experienced and suffered a deep meta-anxiety in her forced walled-up existence, her Holocaust complete.

Sep 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Illuminations: A Novel of Hil...

BC Books

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Hildegard von Bingen is the German native saint (1098-1179) you never heard of until now.

Sep 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Illuminations: A Novel of Hil...

Star Tribune

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In beautiful language, Mary Sharratt tells the story of one of history's most intriguing women while realistically invoking the sensation of a deep religious experience.

Oct 05 2012 | Read Full Review of Illuminations: A Novel of Hil...

Book Reporter

ILLUMINATIONS is a fascinating work of historical fiction about the life and times of a saintly woman whose vision that the divine is present in all of God’s creation resonates across the centuries and is relevant today.

Oct 12 2012 | Read Full Review of Illuminations: A Novel of Hil...

Gather Books

ILLUMINATIONS by Mary Sharratt tells the story of Hildegard von Bingen, recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches and as a prophet by the Lutheran Church.

Nov 18 2012 | Read Full Review of Illuminations: A Novel of Hil...

PopMatters

In Sharratt’s novel, the two are sequestered when von Bingen is only eight (other sources suggest von Bingen is slightly older when these events take place, but Sharratt is certainly correct when she states that it is difficult to know which source is most accurate).

Jan 02 2013 | Read Full Review of Illuminations: A Novel of Hil...

Historical Novel Society

Hildegard, whose visions and persistent spirit led her to break free of her life as a forced anchorite and found her own abbey amid the male dominated church, is brought to life magnificently through a mixture of fact and conjecture that pulls you into her most unusual life.

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The Best Reviews

Jutta with whom Hildegard is imprisoned is pious beyond what one would ever expect in such a young girl, wearing a hair shirt one-piece garment and ultimately a metal belt with thorn-like prongs that she wears around her waist under her gown that already makes her bleed.

Nov 19 2012 | Read Full Review of Illuminations: A Novel of Hil...

The extraordinary 12th-century nun's sketchy biography forms the basis of this feminist tale, featuring a strong, independent woman whose parents sent her away at age eight to be the companion to a 16-year-old religious fanatic, Jutta Von Spondheim. For 30 years, Hildegard lived in a walled-up ar...

May 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Illuminations: A Novel of Hil...

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