Skillfully interweaving historical fact with psychological insight and vivid imagination, Sharratt's redemptive novel 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.
"Couldn't stop listening"
In the tradition of Philippa Gregorys smart, transporting fiction comes this tale of dark suspense, love, and betrayal, featuring two star-crossed sisters, one lost and the other searching.Bright and inquisitive, Hannah Powers was raised by a father who treated her as if she were his son. While her beautiful and reckless sister, May, pushes the limits of propriety in their small English town, Hannah harbors her own secret: their father has given her an education forbidden to women.
"I was very suprised."
Bess Southerns, an impoverished widow, lives with her children in a crumbling old tower in Pendle Forest. Drawing on Catholic ritual, medicinal herbs, and guidance from her spirit-friend Tibb, Bess heals the sick and foretells the future in exchange for food and drink. As she ages, she instructs her best friend, Anne, and her granddaughter, Alizon, in her craft. Anne ultimately turns to dark magic, while Alizon struggles to accept the power she has inherited and dreams of a simpler life.
Aemilia Bassano Lanier is beautiful and accomplished, but her societal conformity ends there. She frequently cross-dresses to escape her loveless marriage and gain freedoms only men enjoy, but a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything. They leave plague-ridden London for Italy, where they begin secretly writing comedies. Their Italian idyll, though, cannot last, and their collaborative affair comes to a devastating end.