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A Vision of Light: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel (Margaret of Ashbury Trilogy) Paperback – May 23, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this bouncy first novel, 14th-century Englishwoman Margaret of Ashbury heeds a "voice" commanding her to compose her colorful life story. "The minor characters are stiff and the dialogue is stilted at times," said PW , "but details of clothing, crafts and interiors, as well as period scenes peopled with robbers, flagellants and strolling players, are well realized."
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-- An appealing novel about Margaret of Ashbury, a 14th-century Englishwoman, who is inspired in a "vision of light" to write her memoirs and tell a woman's story. Unable to write, she hires Brother Gregory to record her memories. He is contemptuous of her ambition, but hungry enough to accept her offer. Riley's ingenious plot then alternates between Margaret's and Gregory's clashes in their present and her telling of her past. The story is fast paced, and the medieval setting is authentically portrayed, whether Riley is describing life on London Bridge, alchemy, or the Black Death. The touch is light, and the characters are charming. Margaret's refusal to accept the place to which her society condemns her rings as true in our century as it does in hers. --Sharon Mathieu, St. Cecilia's School, Houston
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Margaret of Ashbury Trilogy
  • Paperback: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (May 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307237877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307237873
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #544,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By M. M Roberts on December 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I typically do not like religious themes, A Vision of Light is so engaging that this aspect of the book seems to make it even better. The tale of Margaret, a 14h century woman who talks to God, is interesting and thought-provoking throughout. While Margaret's relationship with God is important throughout the book, it really centers on Margaret's strength, compassion, and presence of mind in difficult situations, as she struggles though a violent marriage, the black plague, and prosecution by the Church. Judith Merkle Riley has created a wonderful, memorable character who stays with the reader long after the book is closed. If you read this, the sequel, In Search of Green Lion, is a must, as well.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A. Lord on August 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I love curling up with this book on a cold winter's night. It's the ultimate comfort food.
Margaret Kendall, Riley's heroine, is a wonderful creation. She is smart, clever, earnest in her desire to help others and gifted as a healer...all of which means that she will have a difficult time in medieval England. Her life story--as she progresses from a village girl to London midwife to merchant's wife---makes for wonderful reading.
It's a rare author who can tell a story like Margaret's without becoming overly sentimental---but Judith Merkle Riley is a gited writer who manages to bring the most fantastic characters to life without ever hitting a wrong note.
My only complaint abt the book is that Riley doesn't focus enough of the marriage of Roger Kendall and Margaret---Kendall is, I think, the perfect match for Margaret and the real hero of the novel. He is one of the only characters who truly sees Margaret as she is and cherishes her. I know---most readers would undoubtedly prefer Brother Gregory (or Gilbert) as the hero but Margaret and Kendall's match and marriage seem to be the stuff of romantic dreams.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved this book, and it's sequel! It's actually one of my favorite books, which I discovered when browsing along in my local library. If you haven't read this one yet, definately go get a copy! It's the story of Margerate, a sensible, warm human being, who, under some bad luck, was married to an awful man. But after fighting of the plague, and her husband, she comes to live with a midwife in need of an assistant. While she is living there, she experiences 'vision of light', hence the title. After many more hardships, including being tested as a witch, and the church forbidding her to practice midwifry, she finally settles down with a jovial, wealthy merchant. For once, Margerate seems to live a quiet, steady lifestyle. That is, until she meets Brother Gregory . . .
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Format: Paperback
There's something warm and cozy about a really excellent historical novel. You get to disappear into another space and time, as well as into a character-centric story -- and you can justify the wallow because, after all, you're learning about a historical era. It's as good a feeling as eating an entire box of chocolate chip cookies, without any pesky calories to annoy you.

A Vision of Light is, flat out, what you want from a historical novel. The storytelling is excellent, with a few plot twists I hadn't predicted. The characters are believeable; both Margaret and Brother Gregory have strengths and faults. The history is well integrated into the story, too, so you never (well *almost* never) feel as though the author walked Margeret into a scene to show off what a typical country fair was like in the 14th century, or so the author could demonstrate her scholarship. (Though if you pay attention you will certainly learn a lot.)

Mostly, though, this is just darned good reading. Margaret manages to be both a woman of her time (very religious, for example), and enlightened enough to satisfy modern readers (such as, when serving as a midwife, trying to figure out if she can construct a tool to save more babies during difficult births). In some books, that balance doesn't work, but here it truly does. Perhaps it's because Margaret is less a "heroine" than a woman simply trying to get by as we all do... and her path simply takes her to a wide range of interesting destinations. It has romance but it isn't "only" romance.

I totally fell into this book, and stayed up entirely too late at night to read "just to the end of the chapter" (never mind that it was 20 pages away). If you want just a good, enjoyable get-away-from-life novel, grab this one.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By SM on July 19, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was lucky enough to stumble upon a hardback version of this book many many years ago. It was my introduction to historical fiction. One of the most appealing aspects of the story is that it centers around a female character and depicts the life of women during that era. Some reviewers think Margaret is too perfect, but I see her as pure of heart. She has a gentle nature, preferring not to focus on suffering and material concerns, but to move beyond to something deeper. She is strong and perceptive despite a lack of education. I have always found her to be positive female role model.

I have gone on to read all of Riley's works and have been longing to complete the third book in the trilogy that has never been released in English. Riley inspired me to investigate the historical fiction genre that has increased over the years and led me to discover other great authors such as Marion Zimmer Bradley (Mists of Avalon).

My mother loved the book so much she stole it from me and frequently lends it to friends, so needless to say I am happy that this is finally being reprinted. Overall, Riley has been a strong influence on my interest to read and opened a unique world to me.
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A Vision of Light: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel (Margaret of Ashbury Trilogy)
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