Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen” as Want to Read:
Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  2,874 Ratings  ·  473 Reviews
"An imaginative retelling of the fascinating life of the twelfth-century nun Hildegard von Bingen . . . Sharratt's gripping story, like Ann Patchett's Bel Canto, is primarily about relationships forged under pressure." --Publishers Weekly
ebook, 352 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-10)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Diane S ☔
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 even more helpful 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 ...more
Christy Robinson
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
The Book Maven
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys historical fiction or uppity women breaking the mold
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
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
Amy Bruno
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
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Barbara M
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
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 enamored of saints even if I've shed most everything else of that faith tradition. The dramatic saints -- women like Hildegard -- were and still ar
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"And I John saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and he will dwell with them...And he said to me: Write, for these words are most faithful and true." ~Apocalypse 21: 2-3, 5

"I behold you, noble, glorious and whole woman, the pupil of purity. You are the sacred matrix in which God takes great pleasure. The essences of Heaven
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Hildegard was eight, her mother gave her to a church to be bricked into a chamber in a monastery wall as involuntary handmaiden and student to an ascetic teenaged girl of noble birth, Jutta von Sponheim. Hildegard had visions, and was thus unmarriageable. Giving her daughter over to this purpose not only disposed of her honorably, but bought the favor of Jutta’s rich mother, enabling Hildegard’s sisters to meet wealthy mates. As Jutta slowly killed herself with anorexia and self punishment, ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Brigid of Kildare
  • The Passionate Brood
  • The Mirrored World
  • A Divided Inheritance
  • The Chalice (Joanna Stafford, #2)
  • The Harlot's Tale (Midwife Mysteries, #2)
  • Confessions of Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette, #3)
  • The Flower Reader
  • Anvil of God (The Carolingian Chronicles, #1)
  • The Forgotten Queen (Tudor Court #4)
  • The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora
  • I, Iago
  • Sultana (Sultana #1)
  • The Turning of Anne Merrick
  • The Astronomer
  • The Raven's Heart: A Story of a Quest, a Castle and Mary Queen of Scots
  • By Fire, by Water
  • The Queen's Rivals
Mary Sharratt is an American writer who lives with her Belgian husband in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, the setting for her acclaimed 2010 novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE WITCHING HILL, which recasts the Pendle Witches of 1612 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 medic
More about Mary Sharratt...

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Encircling all this was a ring of flame, the holiness of God, my Mother, blazing everywhere. Our abbot and prior preached that God was above all things, and yet my vision told me that God was in all things, alive inside every stone and leaf. A white cloud, filled with light, opened and a voice began to sing. I am the breeze that nurtures everything green and growing, that urges the blossoms to flourish, the fruits to ripen. I am the dew that makes the grasses laugh with the joy of life.” 1 likes
“Think about what you love, Hildegard. Trust it. That’s where your talents lie and that’s where you’ll find happiness, even here.” 1 likes
More quotes…