Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease

The morning book group is discussing The Illuminator this Friday, a work of historical fiction set during the social unrest of 14th century England. The widowed lady of a manor takes in a boarder at the request of a nearby monastery: a teenaged girl and her father, an illuminator who is working on a book of hours for the monks. Peppering the book are historical figures like the anchoress Julian of Norwich - famous for her writings including the quote "all shall be well, all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well" - and John Wycliffe, who risked his life to translate the Bible into English.

Discussion questions are available at Reading Group Guides, as is an interview with the author. Brenda Vantrease wrote a sequel, The Mercy Seller, in which the illuminator's granddaughter is a Lollard copyist. The author (a former teacher and librarian) suggests various web sites about the history behind her books, the latest of which is The Heretic's Wife (2010).

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