A Portrait of a Saint

Congratulations to Mary Sharratt on the publication of Illuminations. We are so excited to see the finished book – with one of the most gorgeous covers ever – and Mary has done readings to standing-room-only, sold-out crowds.

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 as a tithe 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.

Hildegard is one of four women to be named Doctors of the Church. We love this video which really captures the mood of her amazing story.  You’ll want to read the book to truly get to know her.

The Star Tribune says, “The masterful skill Sharratt displays in Illuminations is to create a real and accessible Hildegard who rises above the legends, projections and reinventions, thus allowing readers to understand Hildegard’s spirituality as the nun herself may have experienced it.”

The Book Reporter praises, ” Illuminations is a fascinating work of historical fiction about the life and times of a saintly woman whose vision that the divine is present in all of God’s creation resonates across the centuries and is relevant today.”

For a fun introduction into Illuminations, check out Mary’s article in Huffington Post Religion: “8 Reasons Why Hildegard Matters Now.”

“One Marathon, One Mile, One Brave, Difficult Step at a Time”*

It’s my favorite time of the year in the city! The New York City Marathon is less than 2 weeks away! The media and running nerds alike are already buzzing with details of this year’s hopefuls. As a runner myself, I love watching the race and hope to complete is someday. Last year, I snagged a spot along the finish line and got to see Firehiwot Dado and Lauren Fleshman in person. However, I clung to that metal barrier long after they finished. That day, if you were a runner with your name on your shirt, I was that strange woman screaming for you. I was so inspired by the stories that ran by me. My heroes were not the elite racers, but the people running for a cause. So, it should come at no surprise that I am extremely excited about Running Ransom Road by  Caleb Daniloff.

The monikers drunk, addict, abuser, and boozehound were Caleb Daniloff’s for fifteen years. Now, the introduction that fits him best is My name is Caleb and I am a runner.In Running Ransom Road, Daniloff, many years sober, confronts his past by setting out, over the course of eighteen months, to run marathons in the cities where he once lived and wreaked havoc. Competing from Boston to New York, Vermont to Moscow, Daniloff explores the sobering and inspiring effects of running as he traverses the trails of his former self, lined with dark bars, ratty apartments, lost loves, and lost chances. With each race he comes to understand who he is, and by extension who he was, and he finds he is not alone. There are countless souls in sneakers running away from something, or better, running past and through whatever it is that haunts them.In this powerful story of ruin, running, and redemption, Daniloff illuminates the connection between running and addiction and shows that the road to recovery is an arduous but conquerable one. Strapping on a pair of Nikes won’t banish all your demons, but it can play an important role in maintaining a clean life. For Daniloff, sweat, strained lungs, and searing muscles are among the paving stones of empowerment, and, if he’s lucky, perhaps even self-forgiveness.

It’s a searing  tale of spiritual redemption–one marathon, one mile, one brave, difficult step at a time.”–*Steve Friedman, co-author of New York Times bestseller, Eat and Run: My Unlikely Path to Ultramarathon Greatness  and author of Lost on Treasure Island: A Memoir

Watch this powerful video and get excited for The Marathon and Running Ransom Road.

Publisher’s Weekly calls it “Vital, honest, and arresting.”

Kirkus Reviews says, “Confidence in the future lends appeal to this deeply personal memoir.”

Caleb Daniloff is frequent contributor to Runner’s World.  You can listen to his interview on NPRs Morning Edition here.

Read an excerpt on Huffington Post Books!

-KN