REVIEW: A Vision of Light: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel by Judith Merkle Riley

Dear Ms. Riley,

After reading “The Oracle Glass” I knew I needed to look into getting your other books. I just wish more than “Vision of Light” were available as ebooks. Ah well, I’ll keep looking for others and in the meantime, I’ll point out to other readers that they need to buy this one.

Brother Gregory is a man with a mission. He needs to prove to his fight loving aristocratic father and his obtuse Abbott that he really does have a vocation for the holy life. For now, he’s trying to eke out a living in London by hiring himself out to write letters for the mostly illiterate population of the mid fourteenth century city. He knows he’s hit rock bottom when a woman wants to hire him to write her life story. What’s next, writing the autobiography of a horse? They’re one and the same to Gregory. But his stomach demands food before it will allow him peace to seek visions of God so he grudgingly agrees and in doing so, he learns the life story of an incredible woman. Margaret of Ashbury might have been born in a small English country village but fate and God have taken her across the face of England and taught her

the other side of disaster is opportunity. Understand this principle, and you will never grieve and always prosper. It is the way the world works. Everything always has two sides, even disaster.

I was enthralled and enchanted by this novel even though it’s got some pretty grim scenes and descriptions. I felt like you were showing me medieval England instead of just telling me facts about it. Margaret is a woman of her times, living her life within the confines of that era. She’s not rabble rousing for women’s rights yet she strives to help the women with whom she comes in contact in the capacity of a midwife and accepts the limits imposed upon her by the church during one harrowing scene. She amazes Brother Gregory with the Vision of Light which God has bestowed on her and exasperates him with more than one of her adventures and decisions. Margaret might not have a formal education but she’s no dummy and has ways to get what she wants and make her point. She survives a horrific first marriage, the plague and poverty then manages to find true love and a man who cherishes her for the person she is.

Once I started the book, I snarled at anything which forced me to put it down and ended up giving it a B+. It dropped from A level grading because of the events crammed into the last chapter. They were such a departure from the rest of the story and I felt almost as if I were reading a different book. Nonetheless, I would highly recommend “Vision of Light.”