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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!
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...
Published on March 7, 2000 by Inna Goldenberg

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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oracle Glass
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...
Published on November 12, 2012 by DragonRene


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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
This review is from: The Oracle Glass: A Novel (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.
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.
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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
This review is from: The Oracle Glass: A Novel (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
By 
Dana Keish (Ohio, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Oracle Glass: A Novel (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
This review is from: The Oracle Glass (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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36 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Escapism for fantasy fans, December 3, 2001
This review is from: The Oracle Glass: A Novel (Paperback)
Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is a bad book. For one thing, it has a great setting: what could be more fun than 17th century Paris mixed with witchcraft and court intrigue? The main character is believable and even intelligent. And the first half of the book is riveting, with a plot that moves along in curves and twists and keeps you coming back for more.
The problems start coming in about halfway through the book. The plot, which had been hurtling along at a brisk pace, grinds to a halt. The characters start to get into a fixed routine that rapidly becomes stale, and all the suspense evaporates. In fact, Genevieve predicts the ending of the book several times throughout the story, so there's no fear of her being killed or even emotionally hurt.
Emotional scenes need work--they have all the plausibility of a B-movie performance. I got the impression that the author has an intellectual understanding of such scenes, without a true grasp of the feeling behind them. As a result, romance is a crutch rather than a highlight of this book. The same holds true for some of the characters--they are intellectual constructs of a certain character type rather than psychologically complex people.
It's also a pity that the court intrigue, so often hyped in the first half of the book, is really not as complex and vivid as it could have been. Perhaps what really irked me about this book is that with such a great setting, the plot had enormous potential, but instead just peters out. It is worth reading to get a feel for the period, and it's fun in its way. I would recommend it to fantasy fans in need of pure escapism, with Riley as a sort of fantasy counterpart to Danielle Steel. If you come to it expecting to have fun and nothing more, you probably won't be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, August 15, 2002
By 
Honey "honeyhoneyny" (Albany, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Oracle Glass: A Novel (Paperback)
One of the things I really like about Judith Merkle Riley's books is that she always puts in little details that add humor, make the setting come alive, or just make the characters more human. I'm not really into writing technically analytical reviews, I just mention what I like. I liked The Oracle Glass because the mixture of humor and court intrigue is engrossing. It's a good book to while away an afternoon with. The romance in this book is a little weak to me, partly because you can see how it's going to fall out. Also, you'll have a good idea of how it's going to end halfway through, but it's interesting and likeable enough to finish. It's not rocket science, but it's fun, with some good historical touches, and it made me want to do more research on the historic event that the novel is based on.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Setting and Characters, fans of Philippa Gregory take note!, February 12, 2007
This review is from: The Oracle Glass: A Novel (Paperback)
I admit that I'm a sucker for a historical novel with a deep sense of time and place, where the history is more than "wallpaper" and the characters do not have 21st century sensibilities dressed in farthingales or knee breeches. If the main character in such a book is a woman navigating the obstacles of her time period, so much the better.

The Oracle Glass has all of that and more. It is the story of Genevieve Pasquiers, a very intelligent teenage girl who is left for dead by her scheming family, and adopted by a different type of scheming family, a company of women who are either witches, business women or both. This family is headed by La Voison, a real historical personage whose reign over the Parisian demimonde coincided with that of the Sun King, Louis XIV. La Voison sees the potential in young Genvieve, who has the ability to read the future on the surface of water. The first half of the book, in which Genevieve grows to the age of 15, stumbles innocently into the intrigues of her family, is cast out and then brought into La Voison's operations and made over into a sophisticated century-old crone with mystical powers, is riveting reading. I was rooting for Genevieve the entire way and enjoyed her rise to power. And lurking in the background are the shadowy and frightening figures of the Parisian police investigators, who bode no good for Genevieve or her compatriots if the extent of their schemes ever come to light.

Unfortunately the book does sag somewhat in the second half. The plot that roars along through the first half, stalls, even as Genevieve's situation begins to go downhill. While the last 75 pages or so pick back up again and the book steams to a conclusion, the slow and repetitive plot made several hundred pages a bit harder to read.

Still, the history and intrigue of a time I am less familiar with than the more usual British historical settings kept me going. I was grateful for the cast of characters listed in the beginning of the book--I needed it to keep all the court schemers straight! Like another favorite historical author, Philippa Gregory, Judith Merkle Riley builds her story around a female figure with the intelligence and nerve to build a degree of power and independence in a time that wasn't very friendly to women. Like Gregory, this character is a sharp observer at a key period of history, on the fringe of the interactions between great historical figures and in constant danger of being overrun by them. Even with the plot difficulties in the middle of the novel, this makes for a compelling and interesting read. This was my first book by Riley but it will definitely not be my last.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History leaps off the page, October 6, 2007
This review is from: The Oracle Glass: A Novel (Paperback)
This was one of those delicious novels that drew me entirely into its world, that was so vivid I could smell said world's smells and taste its tastes. I wanted to devour this novel and yet I never wanted it to end because it was so wonderfully drawn. It is exactly what I seek whenever I pick up a book: transportation to another time and place.

Riley does an amazing job of taking a slice of history and making it real. Textbooks do history a disservice by boiling it down to facts and dates and it is authors like Riley who remind us of the romance, intrigue, and fascination of the past. Though she inserts fictional characters into factual events, she presents the reader with a very rich and detailed picture of Paris in the 1600s. The intrigues and rivalries and crimes of the day rival anything that has happened in modern history and serve to remind us of the danger of burnishing history and turning it into "the good old days".

The story is equal parts historical reenactment, a tale of the triumph of overcoming adverse circumstances through courage and brains, and a touching and satisfying romance.

Genviève is a wonderful and very human character. She is sympathetic and yet, at times, the reader will want to reach into the page and give her a good shake. The perfection of the character rests in the fact that she is not perfect. Though she has a good heart, she does bad and stupid things and possesses the very human flaw of following her heart rather than her head.

I am very glad that I have another Riley novel to turn to now that I've finished this one, so skillful, interesting, and wonderful is Riley's writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read, August 27, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Oracle Glass (Hardcover)
This book is wonderful and has a flesh and blood element to it. It's about a girl who has to survive, so she uses her gift of fortune telling to earn a place to sleep and eat. Her skills scare her as they develope, and the evil people around her use her handicap to lure customers. This is all set in France, in the pre-Naploean era, the book gives a insight into a rich history of france and the super naternal going ons of the time.
I couldn't put the book down, I love all of Judith Merkle Rilyes books. The Oracle Glass sort of makes this bound between you and the heroine. In real life not everyone is beatiful, and what I like about this book is that the heroine finds an alternative skill to better her life.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely the best!, September 18, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Oracle Glass: A Novel (Paperback)
I first checked this book out from the library and thought it looked interesting. I read it, and I love it then and I still love it now. Since, I've bought my own copy and I've probably read it twenty times. THE ORACLE GLASS is intelligent, entertaining, and the main character is admirable and still the reader can identify with her; it shows Genevieve maturing and finding herself and her true love, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. My only complaint is that the book ended too soon. If you like THE ORACLE GLASS, look for THE SERPENT GARDEN (good but not as good, in my opinion.)
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The Oracle Glass: A Novel
The Oracle Glass: A Novel by Judith Merkle Riley (Paperback - October 17, 1995)
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