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A Vision of Light: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel Paperback – May 23, 2006
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Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Judith Merkle Riley is a gifted writer, newly discovered by me. I relished every page! Couldn't get enough. She describes what is in one's heart and mind so elegantly! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Deborah Caporosso
The Best books don't give up their secrets all at once. This is my third time through this book and I find it more charming each time. A real treasure.Published 4 months ago by Kilian85710
Really enjoy her books. Wonderful story. Could not stop readingPublished 5 months ago by Peggy R. Samuels
Delightful beginning to Judith Merkle Riley's trilogy set in the Middle Ages with Margaret Ashbury as the heroine. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Patty K
I loved it. It is a historical novel that opened my eyes to the treatment of women as chattel in the 1300's. Read morePublished 7 months ago by chasmin
Have not had time to finish this but this author's books are always good and well written. I am looking forward to it.Published 7 months ago by patinar
I liked this one, fiction about a woman's life in the middle ages. Plot had some twists, I predicted the ending but couldn't figure out how the writer was going to get to that... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Melissa Lyman