- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (Oct. 9 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547567847
- ISBN-13: 978-0547567846
- Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15 x 3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 481 g
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #632,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen Hardcover – Oct 9 2012
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"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."
From the Back Cover
"[A] lovely, deeply felt depiction of a humble woman who survives darkness to give her heart to the world." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"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 andinsightful 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
The author of four critically acclaimed novels, MARY SHARRATT is an American who lived for twelve years in Germany, which, along with her interest in sacred music and herbal medicine, inspired her to write Illuminations.
Author photograph (c) Reg Whitman
" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
In this novel, Mary Sharratt has the eight year old Hildegard (born in Bermersheim vor der Höhe, County Palatine of the Rhine, Holy Roman Empire) given to a ‘holy’ anchorite named Jutta. Hildegard is then walled up with her companion at Disibodenberg in the Palatinate Forest in what is now Germany. An anchorite, as I discovered, was usually a woman (an anchoress) who chose to live alone in a small house with a screened window through which she conversed with the outside world. Life as an anchoress was not uncommon during the Middle Ages, but Jutta (who was often regarded as a living saint) was a fanatic.
This novel, told as a first-person account by Hildegard in old age, depicts their life together, the consequences of Jutta’s extremism on both herself and on Hildegard. While depicting the horrors of Hildegard’s life with Jutta for three decades, the novel also encompasses Hildegard’s life once Jutta is dead: where she goes public with the visions she has experienced and eventually founds and leads her own covent where she becomes a beloved abbess. Her life was not without controversy.
‘I am not afraid’, I whispered, ‘ What can they do to one old nun?’
I found this novel interesting for its depiction of Hildegard’s life as an anchorite. Ms Sharratt imagines a Hildegard consistent with the times in which she lived, possessed of a deep religious experience. While my focus remains on her music, I can only marvel at the spirit which, having endured so much, was inspired to write such soaring music. An amazing person.
I love Hildegard as a child and also as an adult. She had a moving life story. Through this book I discovered some strange facts that I didn't know they were happening in the past. This is a great historical adventure with so many life lessons.
Would love this captivating book put into a movie. It will be very interesting and emotional.
Here are some quotes I like and would love to share:
“Gluttony is the mother of all other sins.”
“True saints, she insisted, could live on water and air alone. Fasting cured every disease.”
“For every ailment under heaven, an herb grows to cure it.”
“He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.”
“God is not just in heaven, but in every living thing.”
“The fish that feed on clean foods and that dwell in the clear waters of the upper or middle depths are the healthiest to eat. But the bottom-feeders, or the carp that dwell in stagnant marshes, should never be eaten by the sick.”
“Tall trees are the first to go down in the storm.”
“A true love sees past the beginnings of things. It sees them through to the end. Anything less is mere vanity.”
“How easy it was to tear things down, how difficult to build something up from the ground.”
“A good tree is known by its good fruit.”