Illuminations

Illuminations

A Novel of Hildegard Von Bingen

Book - 2012
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A triumphant portrait of a resilient and courageous woman and the life she might have lived . . .

Skillfully interweaving historical fact with psychological insight and vivid imagination, Sharratt's redemptive novel, 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 entombed in a small room where she was expected to live out her days in silent submission as the handmaiden of a renowned but disturbed young nun, Jutta von Sponheim. Instead, Hildegard rejected Jutta's masochistic piety and found comfort and grace in studying books, growing herbs, and rejoicing in her own secret visions of the divine. When Jutta died some thirty years later, Hildegard broke out of her prison with the heavenly calling to speak and write about her visions and to liberate her sisters and herself from the soul-destroying anchorage. Riveting and utterly unforgettable, Illuminations is a deeply moving portrayal of a woman willing to risk everything for what she believed.

"With elegance and sensitivity, Mary Sharratt rescues Hildegard von Bingen from the obscurity of legend, bringing to life the flesh-and-blood woman in all her conflict, faith, and unwavering tenacity. Illuminations is an astonishing revelation of a visionary leader willing to sacrifice everything to defend her beliefs in a dangerous time of oppression."
--C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
Publisher: Boston, Mass. : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c2012.
ISBN: 9780547567846
Branch Call Number: FICTION SHA
Characteristics: xiv, 274 p. ; 24 cm.

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Sarah17
Feb 21, 2017

This is a brilliant book about a largely unknown woman, Hildegarde of Bingen. She was in fact a formative mystic and author in 12th century Germany, and has been canonized. This book, written in the 1st person, tells her story starting as an 8-year-old, promised by her mother to be the companion to a 14-year-old girl who wishes to be an anchorite. Hildegarde spends 30 years bricked into a small space, first with one woman who rapidly descends into madness, and later with two young girls who are also confined by their aunt as anchoresses. Her break for freedom and her later life are equally enthralling. Mary Sharratt has written a real page-turner, although perhaps you wouldn't think so considering the subject matter, however, I thoroughly recommend this book.

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mesaminaux
Jul 13, 2016

This is the story of a true spiritual woman way ahead of her time. I will most likely pick up other books by this author. There were a few rough parts for me, such as the first few years in seclusion when she was a young child, but I still enjoyed this book. It reads as a full story, from childhood to her death, and by the end you really feel like you know Hildegard since "she" is telling the story.

a
alex59
Jul 15, 2015

Excellent book. Well-written and simply a good story. Gives an insight into the life and thoughts of a strong-willed, intelligent woman who was constricted by the times she lived in but lived the life she aspired to in spite of this.

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finn75
Nov 23, 2014

Brilliant. What a great story made more astounding to think it was based on a real life experience. Her experience of basically be bricked away is harrowing. To think women had to live that way for their entire lives!

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bigreader69
Sep 06, 2013

December 2014

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