Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Freebie: Illuminations by Mary Sharratt

Congratulations to Brian Bedard, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins.

This week's book giveaway is Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt, released last month by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Regular readers of The Quivering Pen will recall the trailer for Illuminations was recently featured on Trailer Park Tuesday.  Though I haven't yet had the chance to read her newest books, I really enjoyed Sharratt's previous novels, The Vanishing Point and The Real Minerva.  Judging by a casual skim of its opening pages, Illuminations looks like it will deliver more of the same historical authenticity woven into a gripping plot.  Here's the synopsis from the publisher:
A triumphant portrait of a resilient and courageous woman and the life she might have lived....Skillfully interweaving historical fact with psychological insight and vivid imagination, Sharratt’s redemptive novel, Illuminations, brings to life one of the most extraordinary women of the Middle Ages: Hildegard von Bingen, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath. Offered to the Church at the age of eight, Hildegard was entombed in a small room where she was 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 thirty years 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. Riveting and utterly unforgettable, Illuminations is a deeply moving portrayal of a woman willing to risk everything for what she believed.
Here's what Booklist had to say about the book: "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."

If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of Illuminations, all you have to do is email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Nov. 15at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Nov. 16.  If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week Quivering Pen newsletter, simply add the words "Sign me up for the newsletter" in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you've done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying "I've shared" and I'll put your name in the hat twice.

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