Tuesday, November 12, 2013

HF Virtual Book Tours Guest Post and Giveaway: Mary Sharratt, Author of Iluminations

I am very pleased to welcome Mary Sharratt, author of Illuminations, here to A Bookish Affair today!


Life Begins at 42

by Mary Sharratt

We live in a youth-obsessed culture. The cosmetic industry pushes wrinkle creams and hair dye on us while celebrities resort to Botox and surgery to preserve an illusion of eternal girlhood. We live longer than ever before, yet advancing age, once a mark of honor, has become a source of shame.

But what happens when women embrace midlife as an inner awakening and call to power?
One such woman was Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), powerfrau and late bloomer par excellence.

Her youth was dire. Offered to the Church at the age of eight, she was entombed in an anchorage. Though she had been haunted by luminous visions since earliest childhood, she didn’t dare speak of them. Her entire existence was bent on silent submission to her superior, Jutta von Sponheim, an ascetic whose regime of fasting and mortification of the flesh eventually killed her.

Only after Jutta’s demise could Hildegard step out of the shadows and carve out a spiritual life based not on suffering but on celebrating life in all its burgeoning green beauty. Even so she might have remained obscure, lost to history.

But when she was forty-two, everything changed.

“When I was forty-two years and seven months old,” she wrote, “Heaven was opened and a fiery light of exceeding brilliance came and permeated my whole brain, and inflamed my whole heart and my whole breast, not like a burning but like a warming flame, as the sun warms anything its rays touch.”

Dazzling visionary experiences descended upon Hildegard, along with the divine summons to write and speak of her revelations. Reluctantly at first she embarked on her first book of theology, Scivias, or Know the Ways. After putting quill to parchment, she could never go back.

Hildegard went on to found two monasteries, go on four preaching tours, compose an entire corpus of sacred music, and write nine books on subjects as diverse as cosmology, botany, medicine, and human sexuality, thus leaving her indelible mark on history.

Most of us believe we live in a more enlightened age than Hildegard’s—after all, children are no longer forced into monasteries. Yet many young women find themselves in modern and secular forms of servitude—dead end relationships, soul-crippling jobs, credit card debt, a life of junk food and junk television—all the sadness and waste of an unexamined life.

We don’t need to be visionaries to break free. We just need to remember who we are, that we all serve some higher purpose. Each of us has our own unique gift to give the world.

In youth, it’s easy to be beguiled by the glamour of the surface of things—if we get the right job, the right partner, the right clothes we’ll be happy forever.  

But in midlife we are gifted with the maturity to see through the false scripts consumer society hands to us. After a certain age we can see just how absurd it is to kill ourselves to emulate airbrushed supermodels. We realize that the greatest lover in the world can’t fulfill us until we are at peace with ourselves. And so we can let ourselves go. Paint the pictures we’ve always longed to paint. Learn French and travel the world. Dance under the stars. Play the saxophone. Offer our own song to the vast symphony of life.  

Remember, it’s never too early or too late to embrace your inner powerfrau.


One lucky winner will win a copy of Illuminations (open internationally)!!! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, October 14
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 15
Review at Plum Creek Peddler
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, October 16
Review at Bitches with Books
Thursday, October 17
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Libraria
Friday, October 18
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, October 21
Review at Book of Secrets
Tuesday, October 22
Review at The Most Happy Reader
Review & Giveaway at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, October 23
Review at Books, Belles and Beaux
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, October 24
Review at Just One More Chapter
Guest Post at Books, Belles and Beaux
Friday, October 25
Interview & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Monday, October 28
Review at Bloggin’ ’bout Books
Tuesday, October 29
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Wednesday, October 30
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, November 1
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Monday, November 4
Guest Post & Giveaway at HF Book Muse – News
Tuesday, November 5
Guest Post & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Interview at Erika Mailman Blog
Wednesday, November 6
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at The True Book Addict
Thursday, November 7
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, November 8
Review at History and Women
Monday, November 11
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review & Giveaway at Closed the Cover
Tuesday, November 12
Review & Giveaway at vvb32 Reads
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, November 13
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Thursday, November 14
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Feature & Giveaway at Book-alicious Mama
Friday, November 15
Review at Books in the Burbs
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  1. Inner powerfrau... I like it! Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Thank you for making this open to all. Much appreciated.

  3. I'm super excited about this one - thanks for the giveaway!

  4. I can't wait to read this book. It sounds wonderful.

  5. This one has been on my wish list since it first came out. Sounds wonderful. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. Thanks for the inspirational post, one of the best I've read lately. I totally agree about the current obsession with youth. We're all aging, let's be happy with that. Thanks also for the giveaway, I've been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it a few months ago.

  7. I like that sentiment - "embrace your inner powerfrau!"

  8. Lovely post with Mary. Thank you for the giveaway!

  9. Thanks for the great post with Mary. and thank you for the giveaway!

  10. Thanks for the giveaway! Wish to discover the Illuminations.

  11. This is so true! I have to say that I'm guilty of not being able to embrace aging. I'm hoping to get there someday, though!

  12. I read this. Here's what I thoughtL

    ILLUMINATIONS by Mary Sharratt tells the story of Hildegard von Bingen, recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches and as a prophet by the Lutheran Church.

    Hildegard's divine visions were likely the reason her mother gave her to a Catholic monastery when she was a child, where she was forced into a tomb-like existence for 30 years. Her visions continued her entire life. When she was sure they came from God, she saw the importance of writing a book about them. Further synopsis is in the reviews above.

    ILLUMINATIONS is based on documented fact, but it is not a biography. Here, Hildegard's story is told as a novel. In so doing, Sharratt interjects Hildegard's thoughts, psychological insights, and dialog and keeps the reader's interest more than a biography would. For readers like me, that makes this book more readable, and that is why I rate the book so highly.

    Like all good novels that are based on fact, ILLUMINATIONS will have you needing to know exactly what really happened and what is Sharratt's fiction. She talks about this in the "Afterward," which I thought should have begun the book rather than ended it.

    I wondered most about Hildegard's special relationship with Sister Richardis. So I did some digging, searching the Internet. And that made me want to learn even more, and that made me want to search Netflix. Sure enough, they have a couple DVDs about Hildegard, and now one of them is on its way to me.


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