Top positive review
68 people found this helpful
Can't help but fall in love with this book!
on March 7, 2000
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.
All central characters are interesting and well drawn out, without being one-dimensional: Marie-Angelique, Genivieve's sister, is light-headed and supercilious, but she is also kind and devoted to Genivieve. Andre Lamotte is utterly charming and carefree, but he is capable of deep emotions. D'Urbec is very complex, with many facets to his personality, capable of fierce emotions from different ends of the spectrum. LaReynie and Desgrez are at times upright and serious and, at the same time, wily and dubious. Although Genivieve's mother, uncle, and brother are evil and insane, there is a lot of pain in them because of their lowly position in life. Finally, La Voisin is the most mysterious and complicated character of all. She has many motives and agendas. You never know what she's thinking or what she is planning to do. She does a lot of wicked things, but she does them because she does not have another alternative. Women at that time could only look to wealthy patronage or prostitution to get ahead.
This book is full of little details that are hilarious. One such thing is the parrot, Larito. For most of the book, his only utterances are "Hell and damnation" and "Fire and brimstone". Of course, he utters them at the most peculiar moments setting the stage for the hilarity that fills this book as much as tragedy does.
The only things that I did not like were that there was a list of fictional characters in the beginning of the book. I understand that the list of real-life characters is valuable, but the list of fictional characters is unnecessary. The first-time readers know in advance what characters are coming up and that spoils some of the book's surprises. I also would have appreciated a better background of La Voisin in the novel itself. It would have been interesting to know where she came from and how she came to be the greatest sorceress of that time.
Overall, this is a great book. I have never read a book that combines romance, mystery, adventure, and the supernatural so successfully. The greatest thing about this book is that all the characters have their vices, which does not diminish them in the readers' eyes at all. On the contrary, it is easier to suspend disbelief and sympathize with them.
I recommend this book to absolutely everyone. Read it and you won't be disappointed.