Monday, June 24, 2013

A Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley: A Retro Read

I first came upon this novel while buying another Judith Merkle Riley book; The Oracle Glass.  Heck yes!  This book looked to be right up my reading alley, and I am happy to say I made a brilliant decision buying it and the two novels that follow it.

Margaret of Ashbury is a very young woman who decides she wants someone to write her memoirs.  This sounds odd, until you understand that Margaret lives in 1355, is illiterate, married to a rich merchant, and only in her late teens.  She also has a gift from God, and God is an insistent voice pushing her to write her memoirs.  Margaret is a healer; she lays her hands on people and can heal them with light.  The whole room becomes brighter, and Margaret's face is illuminated.  

Margaret finds Brother Gregory, a pretty destitute monk in the making who reluctantly agrees to write her memoirs for money--and most importantly, food.  He doesn't think much of women, and especially is prickly towards Margaret.  But her bread making skills soon find Gregory looking forward to his daily meetings with Margaret--he knows he'll be fed well.  The discussions between Margaret and Gregory are funny and they clash over so many things--especially his disdain over women and knowledge.  He does, however, agree to help Margaret learn to read and write.  Her husband, Roger Kendall, is a modern man stuck in medieval times.  He fully supports his wife and is willing to pay Gregory to teach her to read and write.  

As the story moves along, you learn about Margaret's life up to that point in time.  She hasn't had an easy one; as a matter of fact, it's been fraught with danger, a horrible first husband, sorrow, and misery.  That Margaret is able to remain upbeat, cheerful, and full of compassion for people is amazing.  

I will say that you must continue reading Margaret's incredible story with her next two novels:

She's definitely a heroine you will love and cheer her on as she finds herself at the mercy of her times--being a woman in 1355 is no easy task.  I have already started The Pursuit of the Green Lion and I can say it starts immediately after the end of A Vision of Light.  

These books were first published in 1989, so they've been around awhile.  I'm just glad I finally discovered them!  

Available in paperback and ebook.  

Rating:  8/10 for historical accuracy, an excellent heroine, and a story that is never dull.

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