Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Trailer Park Tuesday: Illuminations by Mary Sharratt


Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.  Unless their last name is Grisham or King, authors will probably never see their trailers on the big screen at the local cineplex.  And that's a shame because a lot of hard work goes into producing these short marriages between book and video.  So, if you like what you see, please spread the word and help these videos go viral.




"My name is Hildegard.  I'm eight years old.  My parents gave me as a tithe to the monks."  Thus begins the short trailer for Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen, the new book by Mary Sharratt. I remain a big fan of Sharratt's previous novels, The Vanishing Point and The Real Minerva, and I'm excited to see what she will do with the life of Hildegard, a Benedictine abbess and Marian visionary of the Middle Ages.  The trailer is narrated by the young Hildegard (if I have one criticism it's that the child actress' delivery is sometimes hard to understand) and it's chilling as she describes how she's confined to a small room, the doors to the outside world bricked up so there's no escape.  "We are dead to the world, buried with Christ," the little girl says.  But then she finds spiritual release in heavenly visions (skillfully rendered in the video).  Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt last week, Illuminations has already drawn praise from places like Booklist, which wrote: "In this affecting historical novel, Sharratt imagines the inner life of Hildegard, first as an angry child, then as a young woman nurturing the other girls forced into this restricted life, and finally as a mature woman leading her companions out of the anchorage, establishing the first monastic institution for women in Germany, and advocating an idea of religious devotion based on love rather than suffering. Psychological insight, passages of moving spirituality, and abundant historical detail—from straw bedding and hairshirts to turtle soup and wooden dolls—make this a memorable addition to the genre of medieval historical fiction."  Readers looking for a little spiritual enlightenment in their Fall fiction are well-advised to get a copy of Sharrat's novel.


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