The Illuminator

The Illuminator

Book - 2005
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A glowing first novel that brings us "historical fiction in the grand epic manner, beautifully felt and written"

It is England, in the fourteenth century -- a time of plague, political unrest and the earliest stirrings of the Reformation. The printing press had yet to be invented, and books were rare and costly, painstakingly lettered by hand and illuminated with exquisite paintings. Finn is a master illuminator who works not only for the Church but also, in secret, for John Wycliffe of Oxford, who professes the radical idea that the Bible should be translated into English for everyone to read. Finn hasanother secret as well, one that leads him into danger when he meets Lady Kathryn of Blackingham Manor, a widow struggling to protect her inheritance from the depredations of Church and Crown alike. Finn's alliance with Lady Kathryn will take us to the heart of what Barbara Tuchman once called "the calamitous fourteenth century."

Richly detailed and irresistibly compelling, Brenda Rickman Vantrease's The Illuminator is a glorious story of love, art, religion, and treachery at an extraordinary turning point in history.

Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, c2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780312331924
Branch Call Number: VAN
Characteristics: 406 p. ;,24 cm


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Jul 30, 2017

While the reviews on this book are promising, it's really nothing more than a romance novel in fancy dress. It's formulaic. I read about a chapter and then returned it.

Librarian_Deb Jul 05, 2017

Set in Britain in the 14th century. I adored the bits of history intertwined with the lives of, what to me were very compelling and believable characters. Lady Katherine is trying to keep her household estate of Blackinham together, which is not easy as a widow. The church officials keep coming to demand more money, and the state keeps levying taxes. She has the future of her 15 year old twin sons to consider, so when more income in the form of a boarder and his daughter is offered to her she accepts the offer. Her life becomes entangled with the boarder--an illuminator named Finn--and his daughter Rose in more ways than she could have imagined when they first came to live with her.
These ordinary people are involved in big things, and as the political battles of the state and the church go on around them they cannot help but become involved. A chief issue is the translation of the Bible into English, championed by John Wycliffe but bitterly opposed by the church. Thus catholic church and government officials are often the villains in this book, but the main villain is an ordinary steward taking advantage of his mistress and causing havoc wherever he goes. I loved the unlikely heroes in the story, like Half-Tom the dwarf and Magda the simple (yet wise) servant girl.
I just loved this story, it had enough suspense to keep me going, but I also enjoyed the bits of historical detail and the intriguing characters. Fans of historical fiction or religious thrillers should give it a try.

Mar 04, 2011

Borrowed Oct, 24, 2010

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