The best-selling novel that introduces Margaret of Ashbury and launches a trilogy featuring this irrepressible woman.
Margaret of Ashbury wants to write her life story. However, like most women in 14th-century England, she is illiterate. Three clerics contemptuously decline to be Margaret’s scribe, and only the threat of starvation persuades Brother Gregory, a Carthusian friar with a mysterious past, to take on the task. As she narrates her life, we discover a woman of startling resourcefulness. Married off at the age of 14 to a merchant reputed to be the Devil himself, Margaret was left for dead during the Black Plague. Incredibly, she survived, was apprenticed to an herbalist, and became a midwife. But most astonishing of all, Margaret has experienced a Mystic Union—a Vision of Light that endows her with the miraculous gift of healing. Because of this ability, Margaret has become suddenly different—to her tradition-bound parents, to the bishop’s court that tries her for heresy, and ultimately to the man who falls in love with her.
©1989 Judith Merkle Riley (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
The heroine of this book - Margaret of Ashford - put me in mind of heroines from books fifty years ago, circa 1960's, which I found ironic since the story takes place 600 years ago in 14th century England. In most historical series being produced today, the protagonists are deeply flawed, bitter people who see little good in the world, but trudge on nonetheless. Margaret, on the other hand, is bursting with goodness and her adventures only further add to the flames of virtue around her. Think Maria in The Sound of Music and you have the right idea.
That said, you can decide if that is a strength or a weakness of the novel. For me, it was a strength. I find myself in turbulent times at the moment and I really, really liked a narrator who I could put my faith in and root for through the many machinations of the sometimes miraculous plot twists. I laughed too; the writing is good.
So, if you find yourself yearning for a simpler protagonist - like in the good old days, but not that old, thank you very much - recommend.
Judith Merkle Riley spins the tale of Margaret of Ashbury who takes you on an Adventure through the Middle Ages, a time when superstition, religion, and the dawn of enlightenment comes to western civilization. The clash is tense and amusing , as Margaret of Asbury weaves through the befuddlement of the times and emerges as a woman for all seasons.
Of course Margaret is my favorite, she the only stabilizing factor in the book, while the other characters are allowed to indulge in their idiosyncrasies, We see the world through her eyes.
One of the most memorable moments of "A Vision of Light" is when Brother Gregory, Margaret's friend who's a monk, and her scribe along with his father Sir Hurbert and his brother Hugo saves her life. Brother Gregory's father realizes that Margaret being a rich widow, is to rich to be left along. Margaret, her daughters and Brother Gregory are now in the hands of Gregory's father Sir Hubert, who will force a marriage between them despite their objections. Gregory's dysfunctional family is laugh out loud funny.
This is not only a book you will want to read in one sitting, it is a repeat read.
You will find this book, poignant, and funny. The author takes rationalization into new territory, that will leave you salivating for the next book.
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