Excerpt from Revelations by Mary Sharratt, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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by Mary Sharratt

Revelations by Mary Sharratt X
Revelations by Mary Sharratt
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2021, 320 pages

    Apr 2022, 320 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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Print Excerpt

"Leave Margery be," Father told Mother. "Soon enough she'll be married and having daughters of her own." 

At that remark, I only smiled, confident that Father would want me to take my time choosing a husband. After all, my dowry was the envy of Lynn. I'd no intention of settling for the first herring merchant or wool dealer to call at our big house in Briggate near the Stone Bridge, which my father owned. With my riches and youth, my green eyes and honey-brown hair, I could pick and choose a man with the same dreamy whimsy as I'd plucked the most delectable sweetmeat off the confectioner's tray. 

But even then, there was more to me than that, a part of myself I'd learned to hide. Beneath my costly linens and silks, my soul was always hungry, always craving something greater than the narrow streets of Lynn and a future of dutifully bearing babies. I envied my brother, who owned a ship and sailed to the great Hanseatic ports—​Bremen and Hamburg and Danzig. How my spirits feasted on the City of York, second only to London in the entire realm. All these new sights, from the castle to the Merchant Adventurers' Hall. The great minster put our parish church of Saint Margaret's to shame. Never in my seventeen years had I seen so much stained glass. With Mother and her maidservant at my heels, I traipsed through the vast nave, craning my neck to examine every window. My favorite was the scene of Saint Anne teaching her daughter, the young Virgin Mary, to read. Mother had taught me to read in English, as befitting my station as the mayor's daughter. But I hungered for more. I wished I were some high-learned soul who was truly literate—​literate in Latin. I burned with curiosity to decipher the secrets hidden in the arcane tomes that the clerks hoarded in their libraries. 

I made do with the one book I owned, a lavishly illuminated book of hours, which was my most treasured possession. As the minster bells rang the office of Sext, I knelt beside Mother and opened my book to the appropriate page, moving my finger beneath the beautiful black letters spelling out the words of our Latin prayers.

As ravenous as I was for books, I took the greatest pleasure in maps, which raised me to the heavens and gave me a picture of all that lay below—​the jagged coastlines and serpentine rivers. The City of York was marked by its heraldic white rose, its castellated walls, spired churches, and mighty minster. I knew Lynn by its famed harbor bristling with ships. So great was my love of maps that Father nicknamed me Compass Rose. 

"Compass Rose," he said to me when our week in York had reached its end and it was time to journey home. "My eyes aren't as sharp as they used to be. Read the map for me, won't you?"

We had just ridden out of Walmgate Bar, York's eastern gate. The Vale of York spread before us, green hedges glistening with dew. Taking the map from Father, I unscrolled the tableau of rolling hills, towns, and hamlets, and traced the roads and highways with my finger. I felt as though I held the world in my hands.

The journey, I confess, delighted me far more than the destination. What a thrill it was to ride across the land even when the clouds showered hail and forced us to shelter beneath thickly leafed trees. Seeing the terrain constantly change before my eyes made my heart beat faster.

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Excerpted from Revelations by Mary Sharratt. Copyright © 2021 by Mary Sharratt. Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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