Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Tour - Illuminations by Mary Sharatt

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

Book Review:

Illuminations is a novel about Hildegard von Bingen, a woman who lived in the 11th century who had the gift of prophetic visions. Sickly, she was the tenth child in a large family. At the age of 8, her mother gave her as an oblate to a young woman who desired to be an anchorite, Jutta von Sponheim. Together, the two were sealed in a corner of a monastery to live a pious life. Under Jutta’s tutelage, Hildegard is taught to read and write, tend a small garden, and interpret the Bible. Hildegard was forced to watch the extreme and zealously obsessive religious behaviour of Jutta. All the while, she experiences visions which are visitations from the Virgin Mary. At first, no one believes her visions and they are treated with skepticism. So Hildegard kept her visions a secret, but wrote about them and their meaning in a journal.

The book is gripping and author Mary Sharrat excels at bringing Hildegard’s thoughts and experiences to the forefront in a realistic manner. The novels gives us a look into the religious beliefs of the time, including those who were considered fanatics and zealots. It is a poignant story of a woman who suffered deprivation and enclosure, denied the ability to enjoy nature and grow to womanhood in the outside world. Brilliantly written, I highly recommend this biographical novel, not only for its historical depiction, but because it is a darn good tale that holds a reader’s interest from start to finish.

You can purchase the book at the following sites:


Barnes & Noble

Books A Million



#Illuminations Tour Schedule: 

About Mary Sharratt

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.

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