I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.
An absolutely fantastic book about the inspirational Hildegard of Bingen. Although a fiction book, Illuminations is steeped in truth about the real life of Hildegard.
Illuminations imagines how Hildegard's life really was, starting at the age of eight, when she was given to the church as a handmaiden for a young nun named Jutta. For the next thirty years, Hildegard was enclosed with Jutta in two rooms, bricked in, with the only way of communicating with the outside world being through a screen.
Expected to spend the rest of her life in submission to the church, Hildegard finally breaks free once Jutta dies. Using her own resilience and sharpness of mind, Hildegard strives for a life of freedom for herself and her fellow nuns. There were trying times to get there, and a few times she almost gave up, but she eventually prevailed.
Illuminations was fabulously written. The story flowed very fast, and I found myself reading large chunks of the story without realizing how much time had gone by. I was completely enthralled with the story of this amazing woman who defied the odds in the 12th century. I was also amazed with how her spirit didn't break once while she was cut off from civilization for thirty years. Her thirst for freedom kept her sane, despite the eventual madness of the woman she was enclosed with.
I highly recommend this book. It's not a long book, but I got so much out of it. It's sparked my desire to read more about this amazing woman.