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The Oracle Glass

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,062 Ratings  ·  336 Reviews
With imaginative verve, intelligence, and exceptional detail, the author of A Vision of Light captures the rich tang of one of history's most irresistible eras. This is the story of a precocious 15-year-old girl who is transformed into an imperious, 150-year-old fortune teller.
Hardcover, 510 pages
Published December 31st 1994 by Viking (first published 1994)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 18, 2016 Jaidee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those that like intelligent and entertaining historical fiction
Recommended to Jaidee by: a good friend who adores this author
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "wicked, lighthearted, intriguing" stars.

Hats off to you Ms. Merkle Riley!!!!

You have written one of the most delicious historical fictions that I have ever read.

This book is loosely based on the Affair of the Poisons in 17th century Paris and Versailles.
You can read about it briefly here:

She has created a fictional character on the periphery of these events in order to tell an alternate story that weaves in an out of the Affair of the Poisons. This main
Kate Quinn
May 04, 2009 Kate Quinn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite of Judith Merkle Riley's books. I read this in junior high, and managed to severely unsettle a number of teachers with my in-depth knowledge of poisons and their effects. This novel introduces us to the dark side of the Sun King's court, a world rife with backstabbing, social-climbing, Satanism, and magic. Our guide is a young girl with a gift for seeing the future, abandoned by her family and re-made into a society fortune-teller. Her mentor is La Voisin, an amused and amusing woman ...more
Katherine Coble
This was a book that started out terrifically well. I was instantly absorbed in the protagonist's story and felt as though I'd travelled back it time to Genevieve's Paris.

At exactly the 50% mark on my Kindle it got really...dull, confusing, boring, tedious. But every time i got to the point of deciding to put it down the story got interedting again for a brief bit, only to once again drag into the slough of drear. In doing some outside research I realised after the fact the nature of the proble
Realno 2.5 jer je ubitačno duga i jedva sam ju čekala završiti! (čitala sam ju točno mjesec dana!!!) :-/
No, prvih stotinjak stranica su super! Jako me zainteresiralo i svidjela mi se cijela ta priča o nesretnoj djevojci koja uistinu može vidjeti događaje u svojoj kristalnoj kugli. Da je knjiga imala max 300 stranica, ocjena bi bila puno veća!
Ako volite doba kraljeva i mistiku, mogla bi vam se svidjeti.. Pa zato probajte.. Sretno!
Morana Mazor
Jan 18, 2015 Morana Mazor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meni je ova knjiga genijalna! Ok, ja sam inače velika ljubiteljica povijesnih romana i ovaj (koji me već duže čekao na polici) odlučila sam čitati nakon niza "suvremenih"...Baš sam se poželjela dvorova, intrigi, raskošne odjeće, povijesnih likova itd. I nisam mogla bolje izabrati! Samo, ovaj puta pratimo jedan "svijet za sebe" koji egzistira u Parizu, krajem, a to je svijet vještica, čarobnjaka i sl. ekipe koji su izvanredno organizirani; u kontaktu sa najvišim ličnostima toga doba (uklju ...more
Heather Janesky
Jan 21, 2014 Heather Janesky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I Loves this book!! Some French history was helpful and knowing the city was a benefit too…but in general, fabulous storytelling, great twists and fascinating character to build a plot around.
Rebecca Huston
One of my favourite historical fiction reads, set in Paris of Louis XIV's reign. Genevieve is witty, smart -- and marked for murder. When she is unexpectedly saved by none other than arch-poisoner Catherine Voison, Genevieve finds that her life takes on a very unexpected twist. I've read this one about a half-dozen times and find out something new each time. It's smart, entertaining and great good fun. Recommended for anyone who is sick of historical romance and wants something different.

For th
L. Nahay
This is a difficult one to review. There are a few flaws as others have already stated. I wish the author had completely left out the chapters that are not narrated by or directly involve the main character. I honestly didn't care so much about the history of the times or the back stories as the main story was great all on it's own. There's way too many french names and most men are then referred to as 'le duc', and several women- including the main one- as 'the marquise'. It got very confusing. ...more
This would have been a very good 300-page book. Unfortunately, the author wrote 500 pages which made it into an only fair story.

There are lots of promising aspects to the book: plenty of strong, independant and intelligent female characters, the fascinating world of the Sun King's court, the unique aspects of the Occult world, politics, family intrigues, love - both unrequited and true, and the city of Paris which is always fun as a book setting.

The story itself was very engaging - a young Frenc
Fiona Leonard
The Oracle Glass and I got off to a bad start. The book opens with five pages (ok maybe three) of characters and for me, that is never a good thing. The sad fact is that I just do not have the patience to hold the names of fifty different characters in my head, especially when those names change during the course of the novel, and when those fifty different names are also French. Keeping track of those names on a kindle is also problematic. With a physical book it would be easy to go back and fo ...more
Kilian Metcalf
Jan 06, 2014 Kilian Metcalf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her first novel, Riley exhibits all the characteristics that make her one of my favorite authors. Historical accuracy, humor, fascinating characters, and exciting plots. This is one of the few books that forced me to set aside all my other reading because I wanted to find out what would happen next. She gets better and better until she reaches her summit in The Serpent Garden. Her Trilogy of Light books would be enough to establish her as a major talent, and we are fortunate enough to have th ...more
Mar 19, 2013 Deniz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deniz by: Butterfly
its beautifully written, but very slow. Its definitely very duma-esque which is why i in fact gave it 3 rather then 2 stars
but to be honest, the story doesn't really unfold till right the end and the romance is non existent and then suddenly awkward.
Feb 10, 2009 Mindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Even though this book took me a long time to get through, I really liked it. The latter half was a bit better than the beginning. But I really enjoyed Merkle Riley's take on, well, basically feminism in 18th century Paris. The book doesn't idealize 18th century life for women. It was no doubt every bit as harsh, even for the women of court standing, as the book portrays.

I especially loved the fact that the main character was extremely smart and depended on that ability to stay alive and prosper.
Kate Forsyth
This novel is set in 17th century France, during the reign of the Sun King, and has at its heart the shocking Affair of the Poisons which scandalised French society and saw many hundreds put on trial for murder, sorcery, abortion and satanic rites. I've been studying the period for the book I'm now writing and so it was very interesting to read another novel drawing on the same events. The Oracle Glass is a thick, dense, and rather strange book, jammed full of reflections on philosophy and relig ...more
Hooded Figure from your friendly neighbourhood dog park
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The book is well written and well documented with a lot of vivid descriptions (perhaps sometimes too much) and I liked Geneviève but it really has a slow pace and it ends quite abruptly.
Also for me this book is a historical fiction and not a romance because though there is mention of it in the blurb, the romance comes very late in the story and doesn't hold a lot of place.
Seventeenth-century Paris, but with a twist--magic is real, and the main character can see visions of the future. The story covers about three years, during which time Genevieve grows from a snarky, naive girl with lots of classical knowledge to a woman who must use all manners of intelligence to survive. I devoured this book.
Steve Lindahl
Apr 27, 2015 Steve Lindahl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed The Oracle Glass as I read it, but the book became much more interesting once I learned that many of the characters are historical figures (including La Voisin, the mentor and sometimes nemesis of the book's main character, Genevieve Pasquier). I can't say how careful Judith Merkle Riley was with her facts, because I know very little about the arraire des poison during the reign of Louis XIV, the sun king. But I checked the Wikipedia entry and it seems to agree with the novel. During t ...more
Blodeuedd Finland
It's a story about a girl from a good home, that is not really good. Her mother does not like her because she is deformed. So this girl transforms into the most sought after seer in Paris. What a Cinderella story. Ok not really. But she took life in her own hands and made something out of it. At a time when a woman should not be alone.

One negative thing about the book would be that it could have been shorter, like 150-100 pages shorter. Because even though it kept out the pace it still felt like
Nov 29, 2012 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
The Oracle Glass was not as compelling as the rating would imply. I found it took over 200 pages for the story to get rolling and then all the real action felt crammed into the last 50.

Genevieve Pasquier reinvents herself as a centuries-old fortune teller, thrives on the intrigues of the court of Louis XIV and then realizes her ultimate happiness while running in terror from a witch hunt.

The biggest failure here was the failure to fully develop any of the relationships in Genevieve's life. Even
May 28, 2013 Stephanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: misc-fiction
My husband says i'm not allowed to give this book four stars because i very nearly put it down halfway through and then complained about the ending. So i'd give it three and a half, because i do think it's a really good book, despite my grumbling. I didn't love the super-corrupt atmosphere of Louis XIV's court and i had a hard time keeping the dozens of often multi-French-named characters straight in my mind, but i did love the main character Genevieve, as well as her love interest. They were a ...more
Jenny Demonic
Jul 09, 2013 Jenny Demonic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know there are several reviews for this novel about the slow beginning, but I found it quite enjoyable and was disappointed by the abrupt ending.
Judith Merkle Riley presents a novel dripping in the occult, but as it is so enfolded into the everyday life of the Paris in which the novel is set, one is not overwhelmed by it. Her trick in this presentation is to present a world that is factual within the unlimited realm of fiction. Through her historical research she has presented a world in whic
May 23, 2013 Dana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I keep debating between three and four stars. I felt really pulled into the story through most of it. It's the story of a fortune teller in France. She reads images in water with amazing accuracy. It is very descriptive of French life centuries ago, where minor crimes can be paid for with your life. The higher the social ladder you climb, the greater the risk. I can't bring myself to give it that fourth star because at times it seemed very long. I found myself just wishing that I would be closer ...more
Dec 23, 2013 Hannah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, library, europe
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it was easy and quick to read for me, but it does develop slowly. Most of the story is based on relationships and growing up. A young girl must find her place in a society that's filled with conspiracies. The book definitely has a postmodern feel in the sense that the society is depicted as fallen and immoral. The main character, Genevieve relies a lot on philosophy and reason.

While reading this, I seriously began to doubt society...Even thoug
I thought this book was excellent. I have a minor in French and always enjoyed studying French history, and both Paris and Versailles were times of great excitement during Louis XIV's reign. This was a good book because it provides a female view of a very male-dominated time period, and it showed the seedier side of court life and the peasants living near Paris and Versailles. Because the book focused on La Voison and the Sun King's main maîtresse en titre (the official name for the French king' ...more
Mike Mills
Aside from the great attention to historical details, this story left me with very little depth and meaning. The story took way too long to get going (about at least 200 pages in), and then there was a lot of foreshadowing throughout and backtracking (I guess so the reader would stay on track). Then, the love story took over from the main plot for awhile (because, every novel needs a love story, front and centre). Now, we are about 350 pages in, then the quick resolution, where everything is tid ...more
Apr 25, 2012 Laphalene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another book I'm unfairly fond of, so don't come here for a review on the technical merits. Oracle Glass does have its flaws. It's loosely based on the real life Poison Affair, during the time of Louis XIV

Genevieve is born to a family of middling rank during the illustrious reign of the sun king, her father is a failed financier who has retreated into intellectual things, her mother of distant noble blood, grasping at rank and beauty as she tries to save her fading youth. Premature and deformed,
I was unsure about reading this book for fear it would be a dark horror novel but that proved not to be the case. Although I thought the beginning was slow, the author was subtlety building up her background and characters.
Against the background of the court of the Sun King, Louis IV Genevieve Pasquier under the tutelage of La Voisin (who actually did live in this period) becomes Marquise De Morville, a fortune teller with a talent for reading water glasses. Soon she is making a great deal of mo
Jul 20, 2009 Whitney rated it did not like it
Um, I have to own up to the fact that I just skimmed this book. Now before you judge me too harshly, I did actually read every word of the first 90-odd pages and then the skimming began. Why? Because it was that or just not finish it at all.

The plot is based loosely upon historical events connected with a fortune-telling ring that set itself up on Paris during the late 17th century. Let's just say that there were a number of inconsistencies in the book and I just couldn't really dredge up much
Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
What a suprising read it was! First of all - it is based on true events! It's so unbelievable that it's amazing - Parisian witches, alchemists, poisoners all surrounding the court of Versaille in 17th century. Great plot, awesome style and focus on details. It's rich, it's tasty - great historical fiction.
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Judith Astria Merkle was born on January 14, 1942 in Brunswick, Maine and grew up in Livermore, California, U.S.A. Her great-grandfather was a Swiss emigrant, who moved to the United States in 1860. Her uncle-abue was the famous player of baseball Fred Merkle. Her father, Theodore Charles Merkle was contralador of the Project Pluto and her brother Ralph C. Merkle is technological professor in a Co ...more
More about Judith Merkle Riley...

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“I could feel something cold stalking my heart. It was fear. They all begin this way, I thought, with pledges of love.” 5 likes
“Why the Romans, Father?" I asked him one afternoon.
"Because, my child, they teach us how to bear suffering in a world of injustice where all faith is dead," he answered.”
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