Hardcover ð Illuminations Epub Þ

Hardcover ð Illuminations Epub Þ

Illuminations [Read] ➳ Illuminations By Mary Sharratt – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk Illuminations chronicles the life of Hildegard von Bingen , who was tithed to the church at the age of eight and expected to live out her days in silent submission as the handmaiden of a renowned bu Illuminations chronicles the life of Hildegard von Bingen , who was tithed to the church at the age of eight and 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 three decades 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 Like Anita Diamant s portrayal of Dinah in The Red Tent, Mary Sharratt interweaves historical research with psychological insight and vivid imagination to write an engaging and triumphant portrait of a courageous and remarkably resilient woman and the life she might have lived Deeply affecting, Illuminations is a testament to the power of faith, love, and self creation.


About the Author: Mary Sharratt

Mary Sharratt is an American writer who lives with her Belgian husband in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, the setting for her acclaimed novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE WITCHING HILL, which recasts the Pendle Witches of in their historical context as cunning folk and healers Previously she lived for twelve years in Germany This, along with her interest in sacred music and herbal medicine, inspired her to write her most recent novel, ILLUMINATIONS A NOVEL OF HILDEGARD VON BINGEN, which explores the dramatic life of the th century Benedictine abbess, composer, polymath, and powerfrau Winner of the WILLA Literary Award and a Minnesota Book Award Finalist, Mary has also written the acclaimed novels SUMMIT AVENUE Coffee House , THE REAL MINERVA Houghton Mifflin , THE VANISHING POINT Houghton Mifflin , and co edited the subversive fiction anthology BITCH LIT Crocus Books , which celebrates female anti heroes strong women who break all the rules Her short fiction has been published in TWIN CITIES NOIR Akashic Books Mary writes regular articles for Historical Novels Review and Solander on the theme of writing women back into history When she isn t writing, she s usually riding her spirited Welsh mare through the Lancashire countryside.



10 thoughts on “Illuminations

  1. Diane S ☔ Diane S ☔ says:

    Several years ago, my husband and I went to Chicago to see a play called Late Nite Catechism It is helpful if one is Catholic and evenhelpful if one has gone to Catholic School which I did, for too long in my opinion , to understand what is going on in this play Anyway this was about the time when the Vatican decided to pare down it s list of saints and as we were told during this play, they had decided that having an eating disorder or being mentally ill did not qualify one for saint Several years ago, my husband and I went to Chicago to see a play called Late Nite Catechism It is helpful if one is Catholic and evenhelpful if one has gone to Catholic School which I did, for too long in my opinion , to understand what is going on in this play Anyway this was about the time when the Vatican decided to pare down it s list of saints and as we were told during this play, they had decided that having an eating disorder or being mentally ill did not qualify one for sainthood Funny thing is the grade school I had gone to was named after one of the saints stripped of her sainthood The point being that I approached this book with quite a bit of skepticism This book brought out many emotions in me, from anger, to incredulity and finally admiration Jutta, the anchorage, was in all likelihood mentally ill, but for me Hildegard was a source of amazement At a time when the church was all powerful, when men in general had all the power, women, even well bred women, had very little control over their lives That young girls, as young as five, were given a tithes to the churches and monasteries filled me with a deep disgust When one realizes, however, that this was considered a sanctuary, a way to protect their daughters from marriages to old men, I am not sure what decision I would have made Hildegard, who had visions, had a strength that was inspirational and she was considered a reformer and a forward thinker for her time period This book was well researched, well written, and I came to care about Hildegard, with all her hopes and fears, greatly Is she really a saint, were her visions real I m not sure, but for now I think that it just might be possible


  2. Christy Robinson Christy Robinson says:

    I d had this book on a wishlist since the author announced its publication date months ago, and it was released a few days before my birthday A friend purchased it for me as a gift, and by my birthday, I had read only a quarter of the book Was it because I m a slow reader that I didn t devour the text over a weekend No Illuminations is a book to savor, like exquisite musical movements, for its descriptions of physical scenes and emotional climates, the development of characters in extreme ci I d had this book on a wishlist since the author announced its publication date months ago, and it was released a few days before my birthday A friend purchased it for me as a gift, and by my birthday, I had read only a quarter of the book Was it because I m a slow reader that I didn t devour the text over a weekend No Illuminations is a book to savor, like exquisite musical movements, for its descriptions of physical scenes and emotional climates, the development of characters in extreme circumstances, the wrenching emotions and unmet expectations of familial and collegial relationships, and the pure joy of the soul The cast of characters did not lead neat, clean, perfect, saintly lives, but the author gave enough glimpses of back story for the reader to fill in the gaps Hildegard s visions in context helped explain the motivation to her actions that would otherwise seem alien to us, 850 years later I was so pleased that author Mary Sharratt didn t portray Hildegard s spirituality as occultic, metaphysical, psychotic, or migraine hallucinations neither was Hildegard preachy and pedantic Rather, Hildegard came across as a woman who had an intimate relationship with God, a God who creatively revealed herself himself a spirit according to the Bible, who reveals itself with both male and female traits in a way that Hildegard could understand and embrace and worship devoutly despite the horribly negative examples and teachings she received as a child Instead of being deformed and driven insane by her abuse, she was able to build a remarkable life on the rubble and ashes of that childhood death sentence Hildegard used her spiritual and intellectual gifts to build up her community, stone upon stone as a free standing monument, in stark contrast to having been bricked into an anchorite grave When I finished the book, I felt both satisfied that I d learned much about St Hildegard of Bingen, and that woo hoo, let s find out evenby listening to recordings of Hildegard s music, and reading a straight history because Illuminations is historical fiction about this amazing woman


  3. The Book Maven The Book Maven says:

    When I was fifteen, I discovered the beautiful music of Hildegard von Bingen Incidentally, the CD of her music that I discovered was a techno trance interpretation created by Richard Souther While I continue to love this work, it s much maligned by people with better taste than myself This was one of my first exposures to New Agey, ambient type music, and also one of my first exposures to Hildegard, the Ultimate Uppity Woman.It s just as well that von Bingen has an uppity personality she n When I was fifteen, I discovered the beautiful music of Hildegard von Bingen Incidentally, the CD of her music that I discovered was a techno trance interpretation created by Richard Souther While I continue to love this work, it s much maligned by people with better taste than myself This was one of my first exposures to New Agey, ambient type music, and also one of my first exposures to Hildegard, the Ultimate Uppity Woman.It s just as well that von Bingen has an uppity personality she needed it to get through many years of her life At the age of 8, she was tithed to the Church and bricked up into two small monastery rooms to serve as a handmaiden to a mentally unstable anchorite, Jutta Her life continued this way until Jutta s death, 30 years later at which point, fate, God, debilitating visions, and a few political allies intervened Hildegard was definitely a woman operating in a man s world, and it s to her credit that she did so successfully for many decades and it s to Sharratt s credit that she keeps you interested as you learn about the Quintessential Uppity Woman of Medieval Times.Also of note An excellent read alike would be Sacred Hearts, by Sarah Dunant


  4. Suzanne Suzanne says:

    I love reading about the Saints and I love historical fiction, but typically putting the two together makes for a disappointing read, in my opinion Good historical fiction authors are difficult to find in Catholic bookstores, so I was pleased to find Illuminations, a novel about the life of Hildegard von Bingen, written by a mainstream historical fiction author.Hildegard von Bingen 1098 1179 was placed in an anchorage at the age of 8 An anchorage is much stricter than a typical convent, as I love reading about the Saints and I love historical fiction, but typically putting the two together makes for a disappointing read, in my opinion Good historical fiction authors are difficult to find in Catholic bookstores, so I was pleased to find Illuminations, a novel about the life of Hildegard von Bingen, written by a mainstream historical fiction author.Hildegard von Bingen 1098 1179 was placed in an anchorage at the age of 8 An anchorage is much stricter than a typical convent, as in Hildegard s case, she was bricked in with her Magistra, Jutta, in one room with a small courtyard Sharratt did a wonderful job of showing how Hildegard, as a small child, might have struggled with this imprisonment It was Jutta who desired to be a great saint, but ultimately it was Hildegard, with her humility and self sacrifice, who was given that place in history.Throughout Hildegard s life, she experienced visions, which ultimately led to God s instructing her to write them down The author rightly addresses the difficulties Hildegard must have faced with her male superiors in the Church, but there is something that strikes me as feminist leaning in the author s writing I feel that Hildegard s true love for her God, nor a constancy in humility, did not adequately come through in this novel Perhaps it was for the sake of an engaging novel, but I think the author should have made a better attempt to portray this woman as the saint she was Still, I very much enjoyed this novel, and look forward to reading other books by Mary Sharratt.In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Hildegard von Bingen and declared her a Doctor of the Church


  5. Barbara Barbara says:

    I read one third of this book and didn t want to finish It has the tone of a YA novel and nothing of the mysticism of Hildegard von Bingen One third of the way through the book and she s only 15 years old Not worth going on because it obviously won t deliver what I hoped for.


  6. Amy Bruno Amy Bruno says:

    I became a fan of author Mary Sharratt when I read her novel, Daughters of the Witching Hill, so I ve been anticipating the release of Illuminations with great excitement and when I was offered the opportunity to review it I jumped at the chance Illuminations tells the story of Hildegard von Bingen, who as a young girl was offered to the church as a companion to an anchorite nun, Jutta Von Sponheim At the tender age of eight Hildegard was sealed in a small cell with Jutta where she would remai I became a fan of author Mary Sharratt when I read her novel, Daughters of the Witching Hill, so I ve been anticipating the release of Illuminations with great excitement and when I was offered the opportunity to review it I jumped at the chance Illuminations tells the story of Hildegard von Bingen, who as a young girl was offered to the church as a companion to an anchorite nun, Jutta Von Sponheim At the tender age of eight Hildegard was sealed in a small cell with Jutta where she would remain for over two decades Once Jutta dies Hildegard works tirelessly to free her fellow nuns from the isolation of the anchorage and moves them to their own monastery at St Rupertsberg where she serves as Prioress Throughout her life Hildegard experienced religious visions and she would eventually record them into three works She also wrote plays, music and books on natural medicine Hildegard was recently canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict XVI She is only one of four women to be named a Doctor of the Church by the Roman Catholic Church Mary Sharratt s writing is pure excellence She has a way of pulling the reader in and keeping them hooked Even though a majority of the book takes place in a tiny room there were never any slow or boring parts Hildegard was truly an amazing and inspiring woman and Sharratt does a fabulous job at bringing her to life Highly recommended


  7. Jeanette Jeanette says:

    This was 4.5 stars for my enjoyment The read captured Hildegard s personality It s a gentle telling of her historical reality This fiction by Sharratt succeeds because she grabbed the strength that was inherent in that girl from the beginning through all the changes and conditions she both endured and recorded The prayers, the songs, the poetry they were exquisite The Divine Love she describes considering the physical conditions and the mental barriers put into place as young as she was I This was 4.5 stars for my enjoyment The read captured Hildegard s personality It s a gentle telling of her historical reality This fiction by Sharratt succeeds because she grabbed the strength that was inherent in that girl from the beginning through all the changes and conditions she both endured and recorded The prayers, the songs, the poetry they were exquisite The Divine Love she describes considering the physical conditions and the mental barriers put into place as young as she was Incredible to have such capacity Hildegard 12th century Germany is a mystic, Doctor of the Church for her writings, speeches, the abbey establishing work Benedictine This is the 3rd or 4th book I ve read about Hildegard and it s the most kind in the prose of the specifics for her first 10 years in anchorage with Jutta She must have been remarkable Her visions and strength both mighty


  8. Barbara M Barbara M says:

    Before reading this book, I would not have expected to enjoy a book about a cloistered nun in the Middle Ages I had never heard of Hildegard von Bingen I read this book because it was recommended to me by Goodreads based on my reviews of other books Based on a true story, this book provided a fascinating portrayal of a young girl sent away by her Mom to live in a monastery as a nun servant An older noble teen was electing to enter the monastery willingly and become a nun Hildegard was offer Before reading this book, I would not have expected to enjoy a book about a cloistered nun in the Middle Ages I had never heard of Hildegard von Bingen I read this book because it was recommended to me by Goodreads based on my reviews of other books Based on a true story, this book provided a fascinating portrayal of a young girl sent away by her Mom to live in a monastery as a nun servant An older noble teen was electing to enter the monastery willingly and become a nun Hildegard was offered to her and forced to become a nun and servant to the noble teen In exchange, Hildegard s Mom received money for the dowries of her other older daughters The noble woman decided to live the most severe form of existence being walled into the monastery never leaving She lived a life of prayer and fasting and expected Hildegard to as well Hildegard is forced to submit to the wishes of this depressed nun noble woman until her death After she passes away, Hildegard blossoms and finds her true calling in life She is an early feminist She also is bold enough to speak out against the injustices of the church one of the first reformers.It s an interesting work of historical fiction I enjoyed it since it helped me understand a world I knew very little about The author was very good at capturing the psychological effects of being held against your will in a captive environment


  9. Audra (Unabridged Chick) Audra (Unabridged Chick) says:

    Another book I just loved from the first line While I was predisposed to love this novel since I adore all things Hildegard, Sharratt s articulation of the woman behind the legend is what made me unable to put this book down That, and the reality of what religious monastic life meant for Hildegard Horrifying Growing up Catholic, I m still pretty enad of saints even if I ve shed most everything else of that faith tradition The dramatic saints women like Hildegard were and still ar Another book I just loved from the first line While I was predisposed to love this novel since I adore all things Hildegard, Sharratt s articulation of the woman behind the legend is what made me unable to put this book down That, and the reality of what religious monastic life meant for Hildegard Horrifying Growing up Catholic, I m still pretty enad of saints even if I ve shed most everything else of that faith tradition The dramatic saints women like Hildegard were and still are my favorite Those radical women, with their shocking theology and passionate worship, made me go through a brief phase of wanting to become a nun myself in hopes of having the same dramatic experiences These days, I m taken with Sister Simone Campbell and those nuns on the bus, but I digress I love authors who take on making saints human like Debra Dean s look at St Xenia and I really relish when authors make saints those who are ostensibly holier than the rest of us feel real and human Sharratt created a woman I loved immediately an unusual young woman from a huge family who craved only her mother s love, Hildegard instead finds herself tithe d to the church as the handmaiden to Jutta, a wealthy noblewoman s pious daughter To her horror and mine , being wrested from her family isn t the worst Hildegard faces, as young Jutta has entered as an anchorite At eight years old, Hildegard is literally walled in into a two room cell with just a screen to allow food and meager communication with her spiritual adviser Jutta wears a hair shirt and indulges in self mortification, while Hildegard is blessed with amazing visions and crippling illnesses.She lives like that for twenty years.The novel doesn t end there, for after Jutta dies, Hildegard really gets radical She founds her own convent, gains fame and infamy for her writings and music, challenges the clergy and world around her She is amazing and awful, sinful and soulful, progressive and proud In short, just awesome.Sharratt s writing style is clean and clear, and manages to evoke Hildegard s visions in a way that doesn t feel too obscure or cartoon y Hildegard herself felt reasonable and historically centered I can t say whether she was accurate since I know nothing of medieval life but she responded and behaved in a way that resonated with me and didn t feel anachronistic I think even if you re not normally drawn to religiously inspired fiction, consider this, as it is a look at a woman who shaped Christian Catholic mysticism and lived to her values in a time when women s power was feared and quashed And also,people need to see how amazing Hildegard was the Catholic Church has finally made her a Doctor of the Church


  10. Charlene Charlene says:

    Sharratt constructed a very enjoyable imagining of what Hildegard von Bingen s life was like With each turn of the page, I was really glad to not have lived her life I might have had to kill myself It was all I could do to make it through my catholic night classes I was forced to endure for most of grade school In the 5th grade, I was asked to leave CCD before making my confirmation because I argued with the priest after he told us about the Widow s mite She only had 2 mites quarters to h Sharratt constructed a very enjoyable imagining of what Hildegard von Bingen s life was like With each turn of the page, I was really glad to not have lived her life I might have had to kill myself It was all I could do to make it through my catholic night classes I was forced to endure for most of grade school In the 5th grade, I was asked to leave CCD before making my confirmation because I argued with the priest after he told us about the Widow s mite She only had 2 mites quarters to her name and gave both to charity because she knew god would care for her IMO, god had cared for her by giving her money and cared for her by endowing her with a brain enough to know that she needed charity and needed not to give away the last of her money to the church The god I loved back then would never allow her to starve and suffer The priest passed around the collection plate after guilting everyone about the charity of the Widow The church was building marble steps at the time and I got it into my brain that they were using our collection money to do so, which was true I argued that it was unchristian My classmates agreed I was escorted out to the parking lot and haded to my mother The priest told her to never bring me back I was terrified I would get in trouble My mother looked shocked and mortified Yet, when I got in the car and told her why I got kicked out, she told me how proud she was of me That is how my story with the church ended Sadly, things didn t go as well for Hildegard von Bingen.A child prone to visions probably epilepsy , she was given away to the church at 8 years old What a strict and horrific life Forced to be a handmaiden to Jutta, who in this retelling was a particularly cruel and self loathing victim of sexual assault, Hildegard tried valiantly to navigate the minefield that was Jutta s brain She tried lying about who she was because Jutta was not the forgiving or accepting type She tried anticipating Jutta s needs, always making sure to never steal the limelight Nothing worked Sharratt imagined that Hildegard loved one of the monks This was particularly enjoyable to me because I could easily imagine a young teen falling for the only young man to which she has access After all, Hildegard was forced to live as a nun She did not seek that life She was imprisoned True to the rest of her life, her love life just never worked out, which made the story all the better As one day bled into another, she had to figure out how to assimilate to this new hell she found herself in There were tiny moments that served as brief respites from the anguish of being held in captivity A new novice would come into her life Even these things seemed to fall apart It was all so beautiful, devastating, and vivid Life in the 11th century couldn t have been very easy on anyone, but having your entire life taken in this particular way seemed worse to me than if she had stayed with her family and placed in a bad marriage


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10 thoughts on “Illuminations

  1. Diane S ☔ Diane S ☔ says:

    Several years ago, my husband and I went to Chicago to see a play called Late Nite Catechism It is helpful if one is Catholic and evenhelpful if one has gone to Catholic School which I did, for too long in my opinion , to understand what is going on in this play Anyway this was about the time when the Vatican decided to pare down it s list of saints and as we were told during this play, they had decided that having an eating disorder or being mentally ill did not qualify one for saint Several years ago, my husband and I went to Chicago to see a play called Late Nite Catechism It is helpful if one is Catholic and evenhelpful if one has gone to Catholic School which I did, for too long in my opinion , to understand what is going on in this play Anyway this was about the time when the Vatican decided to pare down it s list of saints and as we were told during this play, they had decided that having an eating disorder or being mentally ill did not qualify one for sainthood Funny thing is the grade school I had gone to was named after one of the saints stripped of her sainthood The point being that I approached this book with quite a bit of skepticism This book brought out many emotions in me, from anger, to incredulity and finally admiration Jutta, the anchorage, was in all likelihood mentally ill, but for me Hildegard was a source of amazement At a time when the church was all powerful, when men in general had all the power, women, even well bred women, had very little control over their lives That young girls, as young as five, were given a tithes to the churches and monasteries filled me with a deep disgust When one realizes, however, that this was considered a sanctuary, a way to protect their daughters from marriages to old men, I am not sure what decision I would have made Hildegard, who had visions, had a strength that was inspirational and she was considered a reformer and a forward thinker for her time period This book was well researched, well written, and I came to care about Hildegard, with all her hopes and fears, greatly Is she really a saint, were her visions real I m not sure, but for now I think that it just might be possible

  2. Christy Robinson Christy Robinson says:

    I d had this book on a wishlist since the author announced its publication date months ago, and it was released a few days before my birthday A friend purchased it for me as a gift, and by my birthday, I had read only a quarter of the book Was it because I m a slow reader that I didn t devour the text over a weekend No Illuminations is a book to savor, like exquisite musical movements, for its descriptions of physical scenes and emotional climates, the development of characters in extreme ci I d had this book on a wishlist since the author announced its publication date months ago, and it was released a few days before my birthday A friend purchased it for me as a gift, and by my birthday, I had read only a quarter of the book Was it because I m a slow reader that I didn t devour the text over a weekend No Illuminations is a book to savor, like exquisite musical movements, for its descriptions of physical scenes and emotional climates, the development of characters in extreme circumstances, the wrenching emotions and unmet expectations of familial and collegial relationships, and the pure joy of the soul The cast of characters did not lead neat, clean, perfect, saintly lives, but the author gave enough glimpses of back story for the reader to fill in the gaps Hildegard s visions in context helped explain the motivation to her actions that would otherwise seem alien to us, 850 years later I was so pleased that author Mary Sharratt didn t portray Hildegard s spirituality as occultic, metaphysical, psychotic, or migraine hallucinations neither was Hildegard preachy and pedantic Rather, Hildegard came across as a woman who had an intimate relationship with God, a God who creatively revealed herself himself a spirit according to the Bible, who reveals itself with both male and female traits in a way that Hildegard could understand and embrace and worship devoutly despite the horribly negative examples and teachings she received as a child Instead of being deformed and driven insane by her abuse, she was able to build a remarkable life on the rubble and ashes of that childhood death sentence Hildegard used her spiritual and intellectual gifts to build up her community, stone upon stone as a free standing monument, in stark contrast to having been bricked into an anchorite grave When I finished the book, I felt both satisfied that I d learned much about St Hildegard of Bingen, and that woo hoo, let s find out evenby listening to recordings of Hildegard s music, and reading a straight history because Illuminations is historical fiction about this amazing woman

  3. The Book Maven The Book Maven says:

    When I was fifteen, I discovered the beautiful music of Hildegard von Bingen Incidentally, the CD of her music that I discovered was a techno trance interpretation created by Richard Souther While I continue to love this work, it s much maligned by people with better taste than myself This was one of my first exposures to New Agey, ambient type music, and also one of my first exposures to Hildegard, the Ultimate Uppity Woman.It s just as well that von Bingen has an uppity personality she n When I was fifteen, I discovered the beautiful music of Hildegard von Bingen Incidentally, the CD of her music that I discovered was a techno trance interpretation created by Richard Souther While I continue to love this work, it s much maligned by people with better taste than myself This was one of my first exposures to New Agey, ambient type music, and also one of my first exposures to Hildegard, the Ultimate Uppity Woman.It s just as well that von Bingen has an uppity personality she needed it to get through many years of her life At the age of 8, she was tithed to the Church and bricked up into two small monastery rooms to serve as a handmaiden to a mentally unstable anchorite, Jutta Her life continued this way until Jutta s death, 30 years later at which point, fate, God, debilitating visions, and a few political allies intervened Hildegard was definitely a woman operating in a man s world, and it s to her credit that she did so successfully for many decades and it s to Sharratt s credit that she keeps you interested as you learn about the Quintessential Uppity Woman of Medieval Times.Also of note An excellent read alike would be Sacred Hearts, by Sarah Dunant

  4. Suzanne Suzanne says:

    I love reading about the Saints and I love historical fiction, but typically putting the two together makes for a disappointing read, in my opinion Good historical fiction authors are difficult to find in Catholic bookstores, so I was pleased to find Illuminations, a novel about the life of Hildegard von Bingen, written by a mainstream historical fiction author.Hildegard von Bingen 1098 1179 was placed in an anchorage at the age of 8 An anchorage is much stricter than a typical convent, as I love reading about the Saints and I love historical fiction, but typically putting the two together makes for a disappointing read, in my opinion Good historical fiction authors are difficult to find in Catholic bookstores, so I was pleased to find Illuminations, a novel about the life of Hildegard von Bingen, written by a mainstream historical fiction author.Hildegard von Bingen 1098 1179 was placed in an anchorage at the age of 8 An anchorage is much stricter than a typical convent, as in Hildegard s case, she was bricked in with her Magistra, Jutta, in one room with a small courtyard Sharratt did a wonderful job of showing how Hildegard, as a small child, might have struggled with this imprisonment It was Jutta who desired to be a great saint, but ultimately it was Hildegard, with her humility and self sacrifice, who was given that place in history.Throughout Hildegard s life, she experienced visions, which ultimately led to God s instructing her to write them down The author rightly addresses the difficulties Hildegard must have faced with her male superiors in the Church, but there is something that strikes me as feminist leaning in the author s writing I feel that Hildegard s true love for her God, nor a constancy in humility, did not adequately come through in this novel Perhaps it was for the sake of an engaging novel, but I think the author should have made a better attempt to portray this woman as the saint she was Still, I very much enjoyed this novel, and look forward to reading other books by Mary Sharratt.In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Hildegard von Bingen and declared her a Doctor of the Church

  5. Barbara Barbara says:

    I read one third of this book and didn t want to finish It has the tone of a YA novel and nothing of the mysticism of Hildegard von Bingen One third of the way through the book and she s only 15 years old Not worth going on because it obviously won t deliver what I hoped for.

  6. Amy Bruno Amy Bruno says:

    I became a fan of author Mary Sharratt when I read her novel, Daughters of the Witching Hill, so I ve been anticipating the release of Illuminations with great excitement and when I was offered the opportunity to review it I jumped at the chance Illuminations tells the story of Hildegard von Bingen, who as a young girl was offered to the church as a companion to an anchorite nun, Jutta Von Sponheim At the tender age of eight Hildegard was sealed in a small cell with Jutta where she would remai I became a fan of author Mary Sharratt when I read her novel, Daughters of the Witching Hill, so I ve been anticipating the release of Illuminations with great excitement and when I was offered the opportunity to review it I jumped at the chance Illuminations tells the story of Hildegard von Bingen, who as a young girl was offered to the church as a companion to an anchorite nun, Jutta Von Sponheim At the tender age of eight Hildegard was sealed in a small cell with Jutta where she would remain for over two decades Once Jutta dies Hildegard works tirelessly to free her fellow nuns from the isolation of the anchorage and moves them to their own monastery at St Rupertsberg where she serves as Prioress Throughout her life Hildegard experienced religious visions and she would eventually record them into three works She also wrote plays, music and books on natural medicine Hildegard was recently canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict XVI She is only one of four women to be named a Doctor of the Church by the Roman Catholic Church Mary Sharratt s writing is pure excellence She has a way of pulling the reader in and keeping them hooked Even though a majority of the book takes place in a tiny room there were never any slow or boring parts Hildegard was truly an amazing and inspiring woman and Sharratt does a fabulous job at bringing her to life Highly recommended

  7. Jeanette Jeanette says:

    This was 4.5 stars for my enjoyment The read captured Hildegard s personality It s a gentle telling of her historical reality This fiction by Sharratt succeeds because she grabbed the strength that was inherent in that girl from the beginning through all the changes and conditions she both endured and recorded The prayers, the songs, the poetry they were exquisite The Divine Love she describes considering the physical conditions and the mental barriers put into place as young as she was I This was 4.5 stars for my enjoyment The read captured Hildegard s personality It s a gentle telling of her historical reality This fiction by Sharratt succeeds because she grabbed the strength that was inherent in that girl from the beginning through all the changes and conditions she both endured and recorded The prayers, the songs, the poetry they were exquisite The Divine Love she describes considering the physical conditions and the mental barriers put into place as young as she was Incredible to have such capacity Hildegard 12th century Germany is a mystic, Doctor of the Church for her writings, speeches, the abbey establishing work Benedictine This is the 3rd or 4th book I ve read about Hildegard and it s the most kind in the prose of the specifics for her first 10 years in anchorage with Jutta She must have been remarkable Her visions and strength both mighty

  8. Barbara M Barbara M says:

    Before reading this book, I would not have expected to enjoy a book about a cloistered nun in the Middle Ages I had never heard of Hildegard von Bingen I read this book because it was recommended to me by Goodreads based on my reviews of other books Based on a true story, this book provided a fascinating portrayal of a young girl sent away by her Mom to live in a monastery as a nun servant An older noble teen was electing to enter the monastery willingly and become a nun Hildegard was offer Before reading this book, I would not have expected to enjoy a book about a cloistered nun in the Middle Ages I had never heard of Hildegard von Bingen I read this book because it was recommended to me by Goodreads based on my reviews of other books Based on a true story, this book provided a fascinating portrayal of a young girl sent away by her Mom to live in a monastery as a nun servant An older noble teen was electing to enter the monastery willingly and become a nun Hildegard was offered to her and forced to become a nun and servant to the noble teen In exchange, Hildegard s Mom received money for the dowries of her other older daughters The noble woman decided to live the most severe form of existence being walled into the monastery never leaving She lived a life of prayer and fasting and expected Hildegard to as well Hildegard is forced to submit to the wishes of this depressed nun noble woman until her death After she passes away, Hildegard blossoms and finds her true calling in life She is an early feminist She also is bold enough to speak out against the injustices of the church one of the first reformers.It s an interesting work of historical fiction I enjoyed it since it helped me understand a world I knew very little about The author was very good at capturing the psychological effects of being held against your will in a captive environment

  9. Audra (Unabridged Chick) Audra (Unabridged Chick) says:

    Another book I just loved from the first line While I was predisposed to love this novel since I adore all things Hildegard, Sharratt s articulation of the woman behind the legend is what made me unable to put this book down That, and the reality of what religious monastic life meant for Hildegard Horrifying Growing up Catholic, I m still pretty enad of saints even if I ve shed most everything else of that faith tradition The dramatic saints women like Hildegard were and still ar Another book I just loved from the first line While I was predisposed to love this novel since I adore all things Hildegard, Sharratt s articulation of the woman behind the legend is what made me unable to put this book down That, and the reality of what religious monastic life meant for Hildegard Horrifying Growing up Catholic, I m still pretty enad of saints even if I ve shed most everything else of that faith tradition The dramatic saints women like Hildegard were and still are my favorite Those radical women, with their shocking theology and passionate worship, made me go through a brief phase of wanting to become a nun myself in hopes of having the same dramatic experiences These days, I m taken with Sister Simone Campbell and those nuns on the bus, but I digress I love authors who take on making saints human like Debra Dean s look at St Xenia and I really relish when authors make saints those who are ostensibly holier than the rest of us feel real and human Sharratt created a woman I loved immediately an unusual young woman from a huge family who craved only her mother s love, Hildegard instead finds herself tithe d to the church as the handmaiden to Jutta, a wealthy noblewoman s pious daughter To her horror and mine , being wrested from her family isn t the worst Hildegard faces, as young Jutta has entered as an anchorite At eight years old, Hildegard is literally walled in into a two room cell with just a screen to allow food and meager communication with her spiritual adviser Jutta wears a hair shirt and indulges in self mortification, while Hildegard is blessed with amazing visions and crippling illnesses.She lives like that for twenty years.The novel doesn t end there, for after Jutta dies, Hildegard really gets radical She founds her own convent, gains fame and infamy for her writings and music, challenges the clergy and world around her She is amazing and awful, sinful and soulful, progressive and proud In short, just awesome.Sharratt s writing style is clean and clear, and manages to evoke Hildegard s visions in a way that doesn t feel too obscure or cartoon y Hildegard herself felt reasonable and historically centered I can t say whether she was accurate since I know nothing of medieval life but she responded and behaved in a way that resonated with me and didn t feel anachronistic I think even if you re not normally drawn to religiously inspired fiction, consider this, as it is a look at a woman who shaped Christian Catholic mysticism and lived to her values in a time when women s power was feared and quashed And also,people need to see how amazing Hildegard was the Catholic Church has finally made her a Doctor of the Church

  10. Charlene Charlene says:

    Sharratt constructed a very enjoyable imagining of what Hildegard von Bingen s life was like With each turn of the page, I was really glad to not have lived her life I might have had to kill myself It was all I could do to make it through my catholic night classes I was forced to endure for most of grade school In the 5th grade, I was asked to leave CCD before making my confirmation because I argued with the priest after he told us about the Widow s mite She only had 2 mites quarters to h Sharratt constructed a very enjoyable imagining of what Hildegard von Bingen s life was like With each turn of the page, I was really glad to not have lived her life I might have had to kill myself It was all I could do to make it through my catholic night classes I was forced to endure for most of grade school In the 5th grade, I was asked to leave CCD before making my confirmation because I argued with the priest after he told us about the Widow s mite She only had 2 mites quarters to her name and gave both to charity because she knew god would care for her IMO, god had cared for her by giving her money and cared for her by endowing her with a brain enough to know that she needed charity and needed not to give away the last of her money to the church The god I loved back then would never allow her to starve and suffer The priest passed around the collection plate after guilting everyone about the charity of the Widow The church was building marble steps at the time and I got it into my brain that they were using our collection money to do so, which was true I argued that it was unchristian My classmates agreed I was escorted out to the parking lot and haded to my mother The priest told her to never bring me back I was terrified I would get in trouble My mother looked shocked and mortified Yet, when I got in the car and told her why I got kicked out, she told me how proud she was of me That is how my story with the church ended Sadly, things didn t go as well for Hildegard von Bingen.A child prone to visions probably epilepsy , she was given away to the church at 8 years old What a strict and horrific life Forced to be a handmaiden to Jutta, who in this retelling was a particularly cruel and self loathing victim of sexual assault, Hildegard tried valiantly to navigate the minefield that was Jutta s brain She tried lying about who she was because Jutta was not the forgiving or accepting type She tried anticipating Jutta s needs, always making sure to never steal the limelight Nothing worked Sharratt imagined that Hildegard loved one of the monks This was particularly enjoyable to me because I could easily imagine a young teen falling for the only young man to which she has access After all, Hildegard was forced to live as a nun She did not seek that life She was imprisoned True to the rest of her life, her love life just never worked out, which made the story all the better As one day bled into another, she had to figure out how to assimilate to this new hell she found herself in There were tiny moments that served as brief respites from the anguish of being held in captivity A new novice would come into her life Even these things seemed to fall apart It was all so beautiful, devastating, and vivid Life in the 11th century couldn t have been very easy on anyone, but having your entire life taken in this particular way seemed worse to me than if she had stayed with her family and placed in a bad marriage

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