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The Greenest Branch, a Novel of Germany's First Female Physician

Posted on Sunday, August 19, 2018 | No Comments

In the year 1115, young Hildegard arrives at the Abbey of St. Disibod in the German Rhineland hoping to become a physician. But she soon finds out that as a girl she will not be allowed to attend the monastic school; instead, she must stay at the women’s convent, isolated from the rest of the community and from the town. But Hildegard refuses to be sidelined. Against fierce opposition from Prior Helenger, she secures 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 doctor. 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.

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