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The Greenest Branch

(Hildegard of Bingen #1)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  365 ratings  ·  62 reviews
An ambitious woman. Medieval Church hierarchy. The struggle will be epic.

“Hauntingly beautiful and meticulously researched. P.K. Adams writes about the Middle Ages like someone who has lived there. Hildegard’s story is inspiring, and her voice feels so real that it’s almost spooky.” – Jessica Cale, author of Tyburn

In the Greenest Branch, the medieval era comes vividly
Kindle Edition, 279 pages
Published June 18th 2018 by Iron Knight Press (first published May 26th 2018)
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Kathryn Mattern Her creation-based spirituality and the fact that she was an abbess, writer, doctor and composer of beautiful music.

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Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it
There were two things I enjoyed about this book: the historical details were one. Unlike many others, this novel does not fall prey to a lot of popular misconceptions about Medieval society and dwell upon the supposed nastiness of Medieval Europe. You know what I mean. Everyone supposedly being filthy, no table manners etc. This is closer to the reality, and shows 12th century people as quite sophisticated, which they were. The second was the writing style, which was engaging and quite easy to f ...more
What an enjoyable book. On the whole, this is a quiet, thoughtful story about Hildegard of Bingen's early years. I think many people are fascinated by this woman and the author brings her to life well.

Hildegard is a rebel in many ways, refusing to accept the limitations laid on her by the Church because she is a woman. In the light of her own times, she shines like a beacon. Perhaps one of the earliest woman to defy the rules and prove women were not just for decoration, childbearing or prayer
C.P. Lesley
The twelfth-century German abbess Hildegard of Bingen was a remarkable woman by any standards. Known for her musical compositions and mystical prayers, Hildegard was also Germany’s first recognized female physician. The daughter of minor nobility, she entered the convent in childhood as a tithe from her parents. Excited by the prospect of acquiring an education, then a goal unattainable for girls outside a convent, Hildegard suffers a setback when she confronts the strict seclusion imposed on nu ...more
Wendy Stanley
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Greenest Branch is a book to be savored. The pacing of this novel is gorgeous. Clean, clear, unhurried prose, each word adding to the story. The Greenest Branch is a novel of Germany's first female physician, Hildegard of Bingen. First brought to the Abbey of St. Disibod in 1115 as an unwilling (yet very special) child, over time, Hildegard begins to find her voice, develop her gift of healing, and wield her extraordinary personal power. The flow is so smooth that the reader forgets they are ...more
Linda kenney
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Hildegard of Bingen cones alive in this well researched novel based on her life and the time she lived in. As the churches first female physician, she practically revolutionized medieval medicine.

I loved this novel! Starting so much earlier than other books I've read about her,this novel recounts her life from 10 years of age onwards. Filled with her enthusiasm for herbal medicine, women's role in monastic life and her enduring friendships and mentors that so enriched her life. Through her writi
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do I want to read a tale of Germany's first female physician? Yes please.

Hildegard von Bingen has had much written about her later life but not about her early childhood in the convent. Adams has taken what little is known and crafted an incredibly detailed and believable story.

What would a girl of the 12th century have done with an incurable thirst for knowledge? How could she succeed despite the oppression of a monastic life run by males? What would she miss? This novel attempts to answer th
Gilli Cohen
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed it very much, however much fiction and speculation was included by necessity. Shame there's no publishing date for the second part yet. ...more
Paula Butterfield
You might have heard of Hildegard von Bingen, the medieval abbess who produced theological writings as well as books about herbal medicine, who corresponded with church hierarchy and high-level political leaders. Perhaps you’ve read Mary Sharrott’s book, which focuses on Hildegard’s later life. Maybe you’ve seen the illuminations of her mystical visions, or heard her music, such as O Viridissima Virga or Ordo Virtutum (the first opera written by a woman). If you have encountered Hildegard, did ...more
Andrea Fisher
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Interesting Perspective on a Fascinating Saint

St. Hildegarde of Bingen is a well-known and much revered saint in the Catholic Church. She is one of the few female saints considered "doctors" of the Church, whose teachings are considered exceedingly wise and worthy of study. This novel, although fiction (and exceedingly well-written fiction), presents an interesting perspective on Hildegarde's early life and experiences in the abbey. Lest anyone fear they might be undertaking to read a "religious
Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
I really wanted to love this book. Unfortunately, the quality distracted me so much from the story, I could not continue. The premise is great and yet it feels unpolished. I feel this book has great potential with more time to "getting it right". For me, the layering is missing, depth is missing, pacing is missing. It is really hard to write a review like this as I know how much effort it takes to write something and put it out into the world. However, "The Greenest Branch" feels far too "green" ...more
Rosie Amber
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Greenest Branch is historical fiction set in medieval Germany. It is the first book in a series about the Benedictine abbess Hildegard. The story begins in 1115 when, as a child, Hildegard started her training at the convent of St Disibod. The Covent was in the grounds of an Abbey, with Abbot Juno having overall authority over both religious houses.

Hildegard had a natural flair for herbal medicines and a keen mind for politics, but she faced strong opposition to her academic hopes from the m
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In the early 12th century, a young girl was given as a tithe to the church with the intention that she would be enclosed as an anchoress at the abbey of Disibodenberg. That girl was Hildegard, known to history as Hildegard of Bingen. This novel tells the story of her early years at the abbey of Disibod and attempts to fill in a gap in the historical record.

Author PK Adams does a lovely job bringing a young Hildegard to life with her clear and elegant prose. The setting of th
Jena Henry
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
900 years ago. What would it be like to go back to medieval times and see the towns and castles and how people lived? Do you imagine that it would be primitive and simple? What would it be like to follow a young girl of those times? Do you think that she would have had much of a life? Well, you can go back in time and see that world as if you were there, thanks to author P.K. Adams’ vivid and engaging story of Hildegard.

The Greenest Branch is the first in a two-book series based on the true sto
Sydney Avey
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much has been written, but little is known in popular culture about Hildegard of Bingen. P.K. Adams choice to write the polymathic saint’s life story under cover of historical fiction will do much to correct that oversight. Few individuals, men or women, have excelled in as many fields of knowledge as Hildegard. Even fewer have bridged natural science and spirituality.

The monastic life has always been shrouded in mystery, but in modern times we are largely ignorant of the role monasteries playe
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was riveted to this story about the life of Hildegard of Bingen, a real 12th Century nun cloistered (anchored) in a Benedictine monastery. I suppose it has to be categorized as "historical fiction" because details on Hildegard's life so many centuries ago are scarce. I would prefer to classify it as "embellished biography." However you characterize it, P.K. Adams does a fabulous job fleshing out the bare bones.

This could have been a dry, theological story but Adams' rendition had me riveted. I
Michael Ross
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Intrigue, church politics, and carefully drawn characters draw one into this medieval coming of age tale. I was curious- Middle Ages is not my period of expertise, though quite familiar with Germany- the tale of Germany's first female physician led me to do my own research. Though the narrative moves somewhat slowly at times, P.K. Adams draws an ever deepening portrait of Hildegard and her tightrope walk to make progress for medicine, for women, and for the convent. Everything is from Hildegard' ...more
Helen Hollick
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review:
Helen Hollick
founder #DDRevs
"Little is known about Hildegard’s life after she initially entered the abbey until Jutta’s death. Adams uses that gap in knowledge and creates a detailed and plausible version of her own, enhanced with excellent and accurate details of medieval life"
K.M. Pohlkamp
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I had written this book and I can think of no higher praise. Every word of this book is beautiful. The phrasing, the description. P.K. Adams’ talent for writing is evident upon each page of this notable tale.

True to Hildegard’s life, this book has a slow and perhaps flat plot, but I appreciate the author’s honest recount of the physician’s life. At several points I wished Adams had turned up the tension just a bit more, especially with Hildegard’s potential love interest, but in the Autho
Elaine Gavigan
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Greenest Branch is an engrossing historical novel set in the 1100’s about the early life of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician.

At the age of 10, Hildegard enters the cloister of the Abbey of St. Disibod, following an ancient custom of families’ tithing their tenth child to the church. Enclosure within the cloister means that Hildegard will never see her family again, but she possesses a deep faith and a strong intellect and is thrilled that, unlike other girls of marriage
Elaine Gavigan
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Greenest Branch is an engrossing historical novel set in the 1100’s about the early life of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician.

At the age of 10, Hildegard enters the cloister of the Abbey of St. Disibod, following an ancient custom of families’ tithing their tenth child to the church. Enclosure within the cloister means that Hildegard will never see her family again, but she possesses a deep faith and a strong intellect and is thrilled that, unlike other girls of marriage
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is my second foray via historical novel of Hildegard of Bingen's life. Focusing on her talents and fight to become a physician in the 1100's in a Benedictine abbey, where she was an anchorite to begin with, from a young age, this is an interesting look into a far-off time and society. Once again, we are confronted with the Magistra Jutta, who believes firmly in denial and self-mortification, which, as a believer of God being a loving entity, Hildegard dismisses. Eventually, despite her self ...more
Katherine Scott
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars, rounded up. I didn't like this book so much when I started reading it. It wasn't Illuminations, by Mary Sharratt, another book about Hildegard of Bingen, that I absolutely adored. It bothered me that Adams' version of the early days as an anchoress differed so much from Sharratt's. Eventually, however, I got over the differences and just enjoyed the ride. It's a well told story, highlighting the early life of this remarkable woman. In this version, the spiritual aspects play second fi ...more
Kathryn Mattern
I enjoyed 'The Greenest Branch' so much, not least because I feel PK Adams has totally captured the sweet, fresh, life-affirming spirit of Hildegard in the novel, and created a picture of what her early life very well may have been like. I loved the relationship with Wigbert, the Infirmarian, her inner associations with the herb room at home, Uda, etc, and the 'special connection' with Volmar seems plausible too, given the bond of their relationship as we know it through history. All the relatio ...more
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this series "backwards," starting with the second book. And actually, I'm glad I did that. This book ended so abruptly, I'm not sure I would have wanted to read the second book. But, since I knew "the rest of the story," it worked.

The story of Hildegard is quite remarkable. Given to a monastery when she was a child, Hildegard became a strong voice, both within the monastery, where women were expected to be in the background, and throughout Europe.

Her knowledge of medicine, particularly h
Samantha Winters
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book from start to finish. Adams gives readers the gift and privilege of being inside Hildegard’s mind as her life unfolds. She beautifully captures Hildegard’s love of nature and how to her, nature *was* God. The book reads as if you are carrying on a conversation with Hildegard herself or maybe an interview of Hildegard, in which she does not leave out the harshness of life for a woman of medieval times, while simultaneously remaining full of passion and intelligence, wit, and lov ...more
Jamie Strong
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I knew nothing of Hildegard of Bingen until I ran across this book. It's beautifully written and such a joy to read. Hildegard is an example of a radiant light in dark times during the middle ages. Women at this time in history were nothing more than chattel, however, Hildegard was truly an exception. Unless you were born into royalty or your family had money to send you to a convent, there was not much a woman could do to control her destiny. Her accomplishments are astounding for this
Nicholas Finch
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Having read P.K. Adams’ book ‘Silent Water’ previously, I was intrigued by The Greenest Branch, and quickly drawn into a beautiful and elegantly described world that is so richly peopled, and so intensely crafted, I was disappointed to reach the end!

Thank goodness there’s a sequel!

Having known but little about Saint Hildegard of Bingen, I almost feel now like she’s a friend.

This is brilliantly written book.

Highly recommended!
Linda Klein
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed these books both #1 and #2. I have always admired Hildegard. She is a strong, gifted woman who like many women before and after her have not received the recognition she deserved. It is well written and easy to read. It was well researched and the part that Ms. Adams had to make her own was an indication of that research. It was a great example of how institutions have failed people through the centuries because of human desires for
power and possessions.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! It gives flesh to the skeleton (though substantial) to the life of Hildegard. The facts are right and the dialogue is just wonderful. I look forward to the next installment in this series.
Recommended for those who read historical fiction, lives of the saints and those who are devoted to Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church. She is a saint for all ages.
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An unexpected joy to read.

At first I was not so sure where this book was going. Once the voice was heard though, it did not waiver. I enjoyed the supposition of what Hildegard might have been like. Just enough of the outside world to make her human and intense enough to keep her otherworldly. What an amazing force she would have been at that time!
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I am a Boston-based historical fiction author with a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree from Yale University. I am a life-long lover of history, and my goal is to bring stories of lesser-known historical figures and places to the attention of wider audiences. I have a blog where I share my writing journey, review historical fiction, host guest blogs from fellow author ...more

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