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The Oracle Glass [Kindle Edition]

Judith Merkle Riley
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)

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Book Description

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller!

"Absorbing and arresting." —New York Times

"Fascinating and factual." —Los Angeles Times

"Chilly, witty, and completely engrossing ... great, good fun." — Kirkus Reviews

"An outstanding historical novel of 17th–century France ... based on a real–life scandal known as the Affaire des Poisons, this tale is riveting from start to finish." —Library Journal

For a handful of gold, Madame de Morville will read your future in a glass of swirling water. You'll believe her, because you know she's more than 150 years old and a witch, and she has all of Paris in the palm of her hand. But Madame de Morville hides more behind her black robes than you know. Her real age, the mother and uncle who left her for dead, the inner workings of the most secret society of Parisian witches: none of these truths would help her outwit the rich who so desperately want the promise of the future. After all, it's her own future she must control , no matter how much it is painted with uncertainty and clouded by vengeance.

"Take a full cup of wit, two teaspoons of brimstone, and a dash of poison, and you have Judith Merkle Riley's mordant, compelling tale of an ambitious young woman who disguises herself as an ancient prophetess in order to gain entry into the dangerous, scheming glamour of the Sun King's court. Based on scandalous true events, The Oracle Glass brims with our human foibles, passions, and eccentricities; it's a classic of the genre and unlike any historical novel you have ever read." —C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From the author of In Pursuit of the Green Lion comes a novel set in 17th-century Paris and Versailles, tinged with the occult and a feminist sensibility. The younger daughter of a loveless marriage between a scholar and a woman of high breeding, Genevieve Pasquier appears to have few prospects, since she was born with a deformed leg. Taught Latin by her father, however, she has a keen intelligence that stands her in good stead when, after leaving home as a teenager, she is adopted by a wealthy fortune-teller as her protegee. Genevieve has the gift of seeing the future in water, a talent that Catherine Montvoison, a real-life figure who was both a seer and an undercover abortionist to the aristocracy, quickly exploits. Played out against the background of Louis XIV's court, the narrative offers ample glances into the lives of the nobility, as well as intrigue and a love triangle involving Genevieve, an outlaw and a society playwright. Unfortunately, the author's impressive knowledge of the time is offset by wooden characterization and predictable plotting, and her story never quite breaks the bounds of competent genre fiction. Toward the climax, scenes of torture, witch-hunts and executions will satisfy those who like their historical fiction laced with a touch of horror; for readers who enjoy an exotic setting with a celebrity slant, the novel offers an intriguing vacation read.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-Genevieve Pasquier is an educated, skinny, crooked-backed 15-year-old when her beloved father dies. After her uncle rapes her, she runs away, desiring only to end her pain by drowning herself. Instead, she is taken in by La Voisin, a wealthy fortune-teller, abortionist, and chemist who rules the seamier side of 17th-century Paris. La Voisin sets her up in her own business disguised as "Madame de Morville," an 150-year-old seeress who interprets images that appear in an oracle glass. This profitable venture throws young Genevieve into a world of court intrigue, political back-stabbing, demonology, and revenge, and she discovers that she enjoys the independence denied to most women of the time. When she is invited to the palace to read the waters for Louis XIV, she slides from favor and is suspected of participating in a poisoning ring. In a desperate race against time, she must rely on her own wits and on a man she loves to save herself. Mature YAs will relish her development from a weak and naive child to a witty and powerful woman who manipulates degenerate, superstitious Parisian society to her own advantage.
Susan R. Farber, Chappaqua Library, NY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1525 KB
  • Print Length: 545 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1402270585
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (November 6, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008NCARXW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,308 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't help but fall in love with this book! March 7, 2000
Format:Paperback
This is the best book I have read in a long time. Maybe, the best one EVER! I never knew that combining so many genres and characters could result in a stunning achievement! This is the kind of book that makes you want to wish that it never ended. So, when it did, I just started from the beginning. I never got bored!
I was apprehensive about reading "The Oracle Glass" because I have not read anything by this writer before. I got hooked after reading the book jacket because the time of Louis XIV is my favorite period in French history. I have read many books about the real-life characters in this novel, but never were they more hilariously, and accurately!, portrayed than in "The Oracle Glass"!
The main character, Genivieve Pasquier, is refreshing. She is not just very intelligent and well-educated, but clever, witty, and has a dramatic flair. The author takes a chance on making her beauty unconventional. Genivieve has one foot shorter than the other, she is all twisted, and has uncommon, non-classical, features. After the famous sorceress, La Voisin, takes Genivieve under her wing, she does not change her appearance but changes the way people look at Genivieve. I thought that this part was very well thought out. It proves that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and a person is deemed beautiful when they let their inner radiance shine. The fact that she is able to dupe everyone to believe that she is the Marquise de Morville, a 150-year old woman who maintains her youth, is a great lesson in human nature. I also appreciate the fact that she is an independent woman, trying to make a living in a man's world, and succeeding admirably.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another wonderful book from Judith Merkle Riley November 14, 2002
By A. Lord
Format:Paperback
Judith Merkle Riley is one of the best writerrs of historical fiction working today.
As an historian, I am always impressed by Riley's ability to recreate the feeling of a period. The Oracle Glass does a wonderful job of re-creating the world of seventeenth-century Paris where magic and science were uneasy bedfellows.

The story focuses on Genevieve, a young girl who pretends to be an aged crone (very aged---she admits to being well over a 100!). Genevieve works for the famed witch, Catherine Montvoisin but she is also a follower of the new philosophy (science).
Underneath the persona of an aged wise woman and fortune teller, Genevieve remains a young girl. And like all young girls, she is in love---first with a conceited fop and then, finally (!) with a man who is her intellectual equal and who loves her more than he loves himself.

This is the kind of book which you will love to read late at night (preferably a cold winter's night). There is a touch of the supernatural in the story---but it is Riley's mastry of the romance novel which really makes this book great reading for late at night!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Transport yourself to 17th century Paris! April 23, 2001
Format:Paperback
Author Riley does a magnificent job of recreating the life of a young girl in Paris during the reign of Louis XIV. Abandoned in her early years, Genevieve is finally brought home by her kind, scholarly father. Events bring about a change which force her to abandon her family in fear of her life and she is suddenly helped by the mysterious La Voisin. Well known throughout Paris as a fortune teller, La Voisin also has more pratical methods of helping her clients, such as poisons and back room abortions.
Blending fictional characters with historical characters, the author really evokes the time period and it is easy to imagine yourself living during this time. I did think the story was slow to start but after about fifty pages, moved much more quickly. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves good historical fiction.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oracle Glass November 12, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Oracle Glass was a very different type of historical read for me, VERY descriptive, it had a soft touch of magic, suspense and some humor. This story is about a woman's (Genevieve's) journey of life, her life and all of the trails tributes along the way. I found it to be a touching, adventurous tale to a woman's very long journey to gain peace in her life and with herself. Die hard historical fans would most enjoy reading Oracle Glass.

What's a girl to do when she's not wanted in the first place? Considered the furthest from the bell of the ball, she trudges her paces through life after losing two loved ones so closely to the other, the only two that really understood her, accepted and loved her. She experiences the most traumatic occurrences one young woman could ever endure, not only from her losses, but from a vicious attack on her by person that called themself family. Found by the leader of a witch's occult while she was leaving her home, she is taken in to a new world, molded and finalized as one of the best of the best seer's of all time. Genevieve goes through a lot of change. Her appearance, company she keeps, the way she lives and many others that could be listed.

One question that always lingered in her mind was, could anyone ever love her? She does not search for it, but does find some companionship. The day love does find her she'll be swept off her feet as she's truly meant to be.

This book is packed full of treachery, murder, deceit, revenge, mystery, and secrets. The ending left a lot for the mind to ponder for it was not final. Is there a plan to continue on with Genevieve's story?

*Warning there are scene(s) that have involve an incest in form of rape and some mentions and situations of abortion. Those who take offence to those occurrences may find some parts of the story unlikable or not to their tastes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good
Published 15 days ago by Margaret Vazquez
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very vivid historically, characters were well defined. Plot was riveting.
Published 2 months ago by micojocee
4.0 out of 5 stars I wish I spoke french
This is a unique story line that I haven't read others like it before. Characters are well developed, scenery and characters were described in great detail. Read more
Published 3 months ago by dolphinwatcher
3.0 out of 5 stars 100 pages too long but still an enjoyable read.
A little too long, a little too many unnecessary description and way too many French words slowed the novel down for me but still a pleasant read. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Francine Fuqua
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Interesting story. Hard to put down because it's captivating.
Published 4 months ago by Jocelyn Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Colorful characters will keep you hooked
I really loved this story! The main character is a strong woman who has been dealt a tough hand in life. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Fairfield Warde High School - FWHS
2.0 out of 5 stars Tough
although the,story was enjoyable, characters were difficult to follow. I am not a quitter so I finished the book but would not recommend to a friend.
Published 5 months ago by M. J. Semsey
4.0 out of 5 stars The Oracle Glass definitely got my attention.
I totally enjoyed the book, found it interesting and enjoyable reading. It held my attention until I reached the very end.
Published 6 months ago by Joe Voegeli
4.0 out of 5 stars The Oracle Glass
It was an easy read and the characters are well developed, but I feel like the story is a bit dragging.
Published 6 months ago by Primo
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but slow going at times
It was interesting learning about witchcraft and fortune telling as it was practiced in the 17th century, but found the story dragged at times. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Oregon
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