Mary Sharratt, Revelations, New York, NY: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2021

Rev. Dr Luke Penkett, CJN, ObJN writes:

This is a superb book. Meticulously researched, empathically written, it is a rare treat to simply read and enjoy.

Mary Sharratt’s mission is to write strong women – such as Hildegard of Bingen, Margery Kemp, Julian of Norwich, and, into our own times, Alma Mahler – back into history.

The novel is fascinating. Set in – what was called in those far off days – Bishop’s Lynn, in 1413, Margery has just survived giving birth to her fourteenth child, she makes a vow of celibacy, and visits the by now famous anchoress of Norwich.

While Margery tells Julian about her own visceral images of Christ that are the cause of much weeping, Julian, too, shares a secret: a book about her own mystical visions.

I think the book works – and by now the West has read a lot about Julian and the pandemic of her day – because Sharratt tells it as it was. On the one hand, there is the harsh reality of medieval womanhood especially on pilgrimage throughout the Continent and the Middle East, on the other, the revelation to two luminaries of the mystery of the Divine. Sadly, too, there is the Church, persecuting, and, as so often, run by rules and laws, rather than by love.

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