#NewRelease Rosie’s #Bookreview of Medieval #Histfic The Column Of Burning Spices by @pk_adams

The Column of Burning Spices: A Novel of Germany's First Female Physician (Hildegard of Bingen Book 2)The Column of Burning Spices: A Novel of Germany’s First Female Physician by P.K. Adams

4 stars

The Column Of Burning Spices is book two of the Hildegard of Bingen series. Hildegard is regarded as Germany’s first physician; this book takes place in the twelfth century. You can read my review of book one, The Greenest Branch, here.

A little historic background: the Catholic Church continued with the power struggles between the papacy and the secular rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. During the time of this book, the dispute was over who had the right to appoint Bishops; it caused a civil war.

At the Abbey of St. Disibod, Hildegard’s success as a physician brings useful money to the Abbey, as does her writing on medicines and her faith. But she is constantly despised by Prior Helenger, who has influence over the Abbot, and she faces opposition from other men within the church whom believe that woman should have limited roles.

An opportunity arises for Hildegard and her fellow nuns to leave the Abbey. Hildegard builds a convent around her own principles of peace and harmony. She becomes renowned for her opinion about the corruption which infiltrates and threatens the survival of the church. Slowly, her views on those who seek personal gain from promotion begin to become popular.

The author paints a vivid picture of this period of history. There were a lot of characters in positions of power that were part of the story, but the author dealt with them well, without it feeling like a history lesson. The focus is on Hildegard and her achievements which included writing, composing and philosophy. I particularly enjoyed her thirst for knowledge about healing and the practice of using herbs and hygiene as opposed to bloodletting.

Overall, I thought this series was a very good insight into the life and works of a woman who later became a Saint.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

An ambitious woman. Medieval Church hierarchy. The struggle will be epic.

“A fascinating portrayal of one of history’s most remarkable women, Hildegard of Bingen—composer, mystic, theologian, and physician. The characters and settings come alive on the page, and by the end I felt as if I’d traveled in time to 12th-century Germany.” –C.P. Lesley, author of The Golden Lynx.

In The Column of Burning Spices, part two of the Hildegard of Bingen series which began with The Greenest Branch, the medieval era comes vividly to life in all its romanticism and splendor. However, the societal strictures that prevent women from being able to access education and live independent lives are also on display.

The year is 1143. Hildegard, already a well-known physician, has expanded her work to writing not just about medicine but on theological matters as well. Once again, the monks of St. Disibod are there to stop her, citing the biblical passages that admonish against “women teachers.” Also, Abbot Kuno is aging, and it is only a matter of time before he is succeeded in the post by Prior Helenger, who wants nothing more than to see Hildegard permanently relegated to the convent’s enclosure.

Leaving St. Disibod is Hildegard’s only hope of continuing her mission of healing and writing as she sees fit. She has been saving money from the convent’s endowments for years, but in order to establish her own foundation she will need the backing of a powerful man of the Church. There are several who could become her champions – from the famed Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, to the Archbishop of Mainz, to the newly elected Pope Eugenius III. But will they take up a woman’s cause and subvert centuries of established tradition? And will it be enough to protect Hildegard from a betrayal that lurks closer than she could ever imagine?

Set against the backdrop of the lush oak forests, vineyard-covered hills, and sparkling rivers of the Rhineland, The Column of Burning Spices is a tale of courage, strength, sacrifice, and love that will appeal to fans of Ken Follett, Sharon Kay Penman, Bernard Cornwell, and Conn Iggulden.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Advertisements

#NewRelease Medieval #Histfic My #Bookreview of The Greenest Branch by Patrycja Karolina @pk_adams

The Greenest Branch (Hildegard of Bingen, #1)The Greenest Branch by P.K. Adams

4 stars

The Greenest Branch is historical fiction set in medieval Germany. It is the first book in a series about the Benedictine abbess Hildegard. The story begins in 1115 when, as a child, Hildegard started her training at the convent of St Disibod. The Covent was in the grounds of an Abbey, with Abbot Juno having overall authority over both religious houses.

Hildegard had a natural flair for herbal medicines and a keen mind for politics, but she faced strong opposition to her academic hopes from the monastic powers. Under the tutelage of brother Wigbert, she was, however, allowed to work in the infirmary. She took over the herbal gardens and slowly gained respect for her work.

During the period there were many power disputes between religious and secular leaders across Europe. There were also debates as to how religious doctrines should be interpreted. These then spilled into the lives of Hildegard and her fellow brothers and sisters.

I was very interested to learn about Hildegard. The author has tried to keep as close to historical facts as possible, but where details were sparse, she has used her literary interpretation to fill the gaps. Hildegard’s story will continue in the next book in the series.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

In The Greenest Branch the medieval era comes vividly to life in all its romanticism and splendor, but the societal strictures that prevent women from being able to access education and live independent lives are also on display.

The year is 1115, and Germany is torn apart by a conflict between the Emperor and the Pope over who should have the right to appoint bishops and control the empire’s vast estates. In that atmosphere, young Hildegard is sent to the Abbey of St. Disibod in the Rhineland as her parents’ gift to the Church in accordance with a custom known as the tithe.

Hildegard has a deep love of nature and a knowledge of herbal healing that might make more than one Church official suspicious of witchery, and she hopes to purse medical studies at St. Disibod. But no sooner does she settle into her new life than she finds out that as a girl she will not be allowed to attend the monastic school or use the abbey’s library; instead, she must stay at the women’s convent, isolated from the rest of the community and from the town.

It might seem that Hildegard’s dreams have quickly come to an end. Yet she refuses to be sidelined. Against fierce opposition from Prior Helenger, the hostile head of the monks’ cloister, she finds another way to learn – by securing an apprenticeship with Brother Wigbert who runs the infirmary and is in dire need of a capable assistant. Under his supervision, she begins to train as the abbey’s first female physician and makes rapid progress.

When Hildegard’s reputation starts to spread throughout the Rhineland, Helenger’s persecution escalates as he fears losing control over the women’s community. But that is not the only challenge she must grapple with. She has also developed feelings for Volmar, a fellow Benedictine novice, that force Hildegard to re-examine the fundamental assumptions she has made about her life. Is the practice of medicine within the monastic confines her true calling, or is a quiet existence of domestic contentment more desirable?

With the pressures mounting and threatening to derail her carefully-laid plans, Hildegard becomes locked in a struggle that will either earn her an unprecedented freedom or relegate her to irrevocable oblivion.

The Greenest Branch is the first in a two-book series based on the true story of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician and one of the few women to attain that position in medieval Europe. Set against the backdrop of the lush oak forests and sparkling rivers of the Rhineland, it is a tale of courage, strength, sacrifice, and love that will appeal to fans of Ken Follett, Umberto Eco, Elizabeth Chadwick, Margaret Frazer, Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden, and to anyone who enjoys strong female protagonists in historical fiction.

About the author

I am a historical fiction author based in Boston, Massachusetts. I have a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree in European Studies from Yale University. When I’m not writing, you can find me reading, drinking tea, doing yoga, or hiking.

P.K. Adams

AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter