Title: Illuminations
Authors: Sharratt, Mary
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 274
Year: 2012
Language: English
Description: Mystic, visionary, musician, healer and saint ... Hildegard von Bingen was an unconventional woman of her time. Offered up to the Church as a child, she endured decades of seclusion before emerging as a courageous leader and founder of her own monastery.

Based on historical material, this richly imagined story brings to vivid life this extraordinary medieval figure, remembered today for her legacy of beautiful music, spiritual insight and her influence on modern feminist thinking. A fascinating and inspirational read.

Comments from Groups:

This fictional story of the life of Hildegard von Bingen, led to a lively discussion in our group that encompassed many aspects of the female role in society through the ages. Christchurch 390

Everyone in our group enjoyed this book - a 'wow' read. We felt the first person narration style worked well, and that Mary Sharratt had researched her subject very effectively. Several in the group did think there was a 21st century 'slant' to Hildegard's thoughts on sexual abuse - it didn't seem to fit with the 12th century likely awareness of these areas? All were keen to read other books by this author. Havelock North 012

We all loved this book...what a fascinating woman Hildegard was. This was well written, and able to put us in the mind of a medieval woman. Evocative description, and incredible detail of life at this time.The story gripped us from the first few pages, although dragged a bit at the end. It stimulated a great and wide-ranging discussion. Tauranga 009

We all enjoyed this book and had great discussions on the place of women in society, from the 1100s through to today. Also on power - power and the Catholic church, power and money, power and men. Tokoroa 001

This book precipitated more discussion than any other this year. Everyone was intrigued, but slightly frustrated about what was fact, and what was fiction.... Auckland 199

It is such a great story - wonderfully written. Great discussion about what women can cope with! Thanks a was just fascinating! Turangi 001

On the whole, this book was very much enjoyed and gave an easy-to-read illustration of the period. Characterisation was effective. Lively discussion and provocation to learn more about the music of Hildegard von Bingen, the historical backdrop and greater historical detail to ascertain whether her life was 'typical' of the times. Nelson 068

All but one of us completely loved this book - we felt inspired and in awe of the women of those times. Hildegard was such a feisty, courageous person despite the years of adversity. Most of the group would heartily recommend it. Not a hard read, and difficult to put down. Waikanae 010

Two members found the book very difficult to read at the beginning due to the emotional content, but persevered and all admitted it was fascinating. We all learnt so much about religion in that era. An incredible and mesmerising book. I've recommended it to a number of friends. Christchurch 088

We found the first half of the book difficult, but really enjoyed the second part. What a wonderful woman Hildegard was! Dunedin 058

During our discussion of 'Illuminations' we listened to the songs which had been composed by Hildegard von Bingen in the middle ages - an enchanting background for our group. We all agreed that our knowledge of the Crusades was slight - but most enjoyed this adventure and the picture painted of this remarkable Benedictine nun. Te Horo 002

Very divided opinions on this book. Some loved it and enjoyed the writing - others quite dismissive about author's approach to writing a novel about a real person. Greytown 001

Of those who read the book, several were very upset by it, and the remainder thought it was marvellous. An incredible life. Nelson 023

Our highest scoring book this year! Topped both 'The Healing' and 'The Spark'. We had a lot of discussion around the relationship between Hildegard and Richardis, Jutta and her brother Meginhard; the horror of being compelled to become an anchorite (how COULD her mother?), and our admiration for Hildegard's strength. Some of us have listened to her music for years, so it was lovely to read about her. Auckland 037

Some of us found this book disturbing, others found it riveting and inspirational. Well worth reading, however. Christchurch 009

Categories: Fiction, Faction, Historical, Religion, Germany, What's Hot, Popular Book with Groups, 2016 Titles


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By: CHCH 378 2018-06-26 16:31:04
Very lively discussion from our group. Some felt the book kept your interest going, and especially for those who were not religious it was a whole new experience. We all felt it was an awesome read, very educational and would recommend. The book gave us a background picture of how women were treated in general and the book was very well researched.

The Book Discussion 
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