A Vision of Light (Margaret of Ashbury, #1)
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A Vision of Light (Margaret of Ashbury #1)

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,396 ratings  ·  172 reviews
The bestselling 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 fourteenth-century England, she is illiterate. Three clerics contemptuously decline to be Margaret's scribe, and only the threat of starvation persuades Brother Gregory, a Carthusia...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 23rd 2006 by Broadway Books (first published 1988)
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Kathleen
Jan 28, 2008 Kathleen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone and everyone
This is one of my favorite books and when I find copies of it in used bookstores, I buy them so I can give them to people to read.

Riley has the ability to put the reader into the mindset of women in history and to show how they thought and how they managed to survive in societies that could be extremely dangerous for intelligent women.

In this book, the main character survives the Black Plague and learns from a light that appears to her how to save the lives of others. Of course, she is accused o...more
Linda
Mar 06, 2008 Linda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Linda by: I found it at Costco
Shelves: favorites
A Vision of Light is historical fiction at its best. I've heard Judith Merkle Riley speak on several occasions, and the reason I believe this trilogy is so good is because of the intense research she did to make her books historically accurate. Margaret, the main character, survives the plague, speaks with God, helps with childbirth and manages to stay alive in a time when they burn women as witches. This is a really good book.
Emmy
**3.5**

Started off potentially strong and then it became uneven for me. And then the ending picked up and finished with a cliffhanger.


The story starts when Margaret is in her early twenties and married to her second husband. She desires to write her memoirs so she hires the reluctant Brother Gregory. After that the story jumps between the "present day" and the story of Margaret's life, beginning when she is about 11.

Until the very end, I had very little interest in the "present day" storyline a...more
Kate Quinn
Judith Merkle Riley in "A Vision of Light" presents us with an anomaly: an ordinary saint. Most saints, by definition, achieve sainthood by some spectacular act of faith which nearly always claims their lives. But this novel gives us Margaret, an ordinary girl of the Middle Ages who just happens to talk to God - and unlike most of us, gets an answer back. Margaret starts as a village girl, whirls through a twisted and ultimately failed marriage, and then a visit from God gives her the ability to...more
Brian
This is one of the select few books I read every so often to remind myself how good it is.

Being the picky sort, I can find some historical errors in it - but guess what? The writing is so good that it doesn't matter.
It's a magical book in more senses than one - the heroine, Margaret of Ashbury, has an unusual gift from God. It enables her to perform miracles, but it also gets her into all sorts of trouble.

I'm a great admirer of Judith Merkle Riley - her books are never dull, always full of liv...more
Jana Malachowski
An historical novel that is not easily found, nor is it's author on any top 10 lists. But please don't let that cloud your judgement!!!! This book is a very well written piece of historical fiction. I own every single title written by this author in HB, simply because I enjoy them. A Vision of Light was Riley's first book, and it is the first in a 2 part story. We meet our heroine, Margaret, and hear her story. It is 1355, and she wants her life story written down! For heaven's sake she is a wom...more
Chibineko
When I read this as a teenager around the age of 14, I loved this book. I thought it was fantastic. After years of searching for the book & forgetting the title, I finally tracked it down. I assumed that I'd love it just as much now as I did then. While I did like the book, I wasn't as enchanted with it as I was as a kid.

The book follows Margaret of Ashbury as she narrates her tale to the reluctant monk Gregory, who initially assumes that her tale will simply be a normal tale of a medieval w...more
Elli
I only give this four stars and not 5 because of the ending which somehow seemed very jarring and not fit with the rest of the book. I met Margaret of Asbury right from the first and followed through her life along with her. I liked the relationship of the people involved in the more intimate circles in which she travelled. It was everyday thing, normal people of the times with plenty of intelligence and not always the education to go with it. And somehow it fit. I knew people, situations, and h...more
Denise
I picked up this book at a Kmart when I was in high school. Completely at random, just saw the cover, read the jacket and bought it. I have no idea what possessed me as it wasn't my typical type of book, at least not based on those elements. However, I quickly fell in love with the book and it has always been one of my favorites.

Now, over a decade later I reread this book, worried I wouldn't like it as much. But I did. I really loved it. Great historical fiction, complex, but also light with its...more
Holly
I don't even.

I'll start with the things that I really did enjoy about this book. The main character's story is very interesting. I enjoyed the setting, and for the most part I enjoyed the plot. It was interesting and there were even moments when I couldn't put the book down. Other characters were also interesting and endearing. The church was central to the plot and story, as one would expect it to be in a medieval setting, and womens' place in society (which is a huge plot point) is studied and...more
Kelly
I have thr original mass market paperback version of this --back from when it was just one book instead of a trilogy. Margaret is a poor girl in the middle ages who has some Divine power to heal. Sounds hokey, right? On the contrary, it's hilarious The book's framing device is Margaret telling her life story to Brother Gregory -- a monk with little respect for women who move outside their sphere.
Aimee
I thought this was great! I don't want to write about book content as it is not predictable and I wouldn't want to ruin the experience. Enough to comment and say how much I had the way women have been treated throughout time! I am so grateful that I have had a different experience!
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
Read it in high school and loved it. Adored the thawing out of the prickly monk towards Lady Margaret and their eventual romance.
Barb
I read 53 pages and wasn't pulled into the story. I'll try again another time.
Laura
Jul 11, 2010 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Annie
The first book of the series on Margaret of Ashbury.
Vanessa
In A Vision of Light we are introduced to the ‘eccentric’ Margaret, and overhear a conversation she has with God, who tells her she needs to write her life story. Funny thing is she’s only about twenty (so how can she have much to say?), she can’t read or write, and she’s an English woman in the 14th century when it’s indecent for women to write much of anything. Fortunately she’s married to a wealthy mercer who indulges her, and she hires the intractable Brother Gregory to copy down her story....more
Lara
Mar 23, 2010 Lara added it
Shelves: english-12
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Mar 11, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those Who Love Historical Fiction Set in Medieval England
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
This novel was a pleasure to read. Not that I can't find fault. Margaret of Ashbury, the wife of a rich merchant, hires a clerk to dictate her memoirs in the year 1355. The narrative switches between the present day and her experiences with her amanuensis, Brother Gregory in third person, and her own story told by her first person. Whenever we hear her own story in her own voice, I found the story absolutely engrossing. I was less taken at first with the third person parts, more than anything be...more
Sarai
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."

From School Library Journal
YA-- An appealing novel about Margaret of Ashbury, a 14th-century Englishwoman,...more
Keri
This happens to be a pretty old book (copyright 1985-ish) which is odd because it was suggested reading in my book group and while we try to stick to books available in paperback, they generally aren't this old. The good news is that I got it for $.87 and store credit at the used book store. The cover leads one to believe that is it a period romance novel (ick!) but upon reading it, it really doesn't feel like it. The conclusion is rather contrite in the romance novel sort of way and that was di...more
Donna LaValley
Margaret of Ashbury is a young girl living a typical life in the Middle Ages when her father and step mother arrange her marriage to a currently-shabby member of the nobility. Instead of being a wonderful escape, she encounters a ghost and discovers her husband's true reputation and personality. When the plague sends them to the hills, she is left for dead on the road. Found by a midwife and nursed back to health, she one day, in her habit of talking to God, has a unique spiritual experience and...more
Sharon
This is the story of Margaret of Ashbury, a healer in Medieval London who, responding to a voice that she believes to be that of God, “writes” her life story with the reluctant help of the scribe Brother Gregory to whom she dictates it. Margaret has had a very interesting life, even apart from the fact that she is visited by the gift of light that enables her to heal others, sometimes bringing them back from the brink of death. Although the individuals healed by Margaret are indeed grateful, the...more
Indiana
Enjoyed it. This is the first book in a trilogy and I ended up trying it after it showed up on my amazon rec list as well as reading a review of several other books by the author on Dear Author. It’s set in the 1300s in England and focuses on the life of a woman, Margaret of Ashbury. Compelled to have her life story told, Margaret seeks out a cleric who is willing to write it down for her as she cannot write herself. Through her narration to Brother Gregory, we learn about her early life in a ru...more
Ana T.
Although I've found some pretty strong women in the medieval stories I read this is the first time where one convinces a man to use his time and skills to tell a woman's story. Just that premise alone intrigued me and kept me glued to the pages.


The story we are told is Margaret of Ashbury's tale. She is married to a wealthy London merchant and a voice as told her to write her story. Since she can't write she has to find someone who will and her husband indulges her every desire.


She finds a desti...more
Laurie
“A Vision of Light” starts the Margaret of Ashbury trilogy. Set in the mid-1300s, the story starts with Margaret as a child, the daughter of a very poor but free born man. In her early teens, she is married against her will to a miserable sadist who makes her life a living hell and puts a fear of marriage into her. When the plague hits England- and her- she gets free of the marriage, or so she thinks. She takes up a new life as a healer and midwife, which works fine for awhile, until the Church...more
MB
Totally enjoyable! Margaret of Ashbury is an absolutely charming character. And the author's whimsical sense of humor made this a romp to read.

Frankly, I like light history novels. (I can't take too much torture, pain, and death.) But this one was perfect--just scary enough. On to the next, In Pursuit of the Green Lion!

Cover Art: Almost perfect! This kind of cover art is what we're missing now that publishers hire artist that schmooze something together on Photoshop--and poorly for that matter....more
Julie Delcourt
I wish she had more books. I have read them all and this was the first I ever read. Had to go back and read it again. I have found myself re-reading old favorites to remind myself why I love to read and what makes a great book. I recommend this literally to anyone as it is hard to imagine someone NOT enjoying the beautiful sense of historical color/accuracy, clever dialogue and charm of the characters.
Martine Berne
A delightful protagonist, a vividly portrayed cast of characters, a gripping narrative, plenty of emotional nuance, and an expertly rendered time and place: Judith Merkle Riley has it all in A VISION OF LIGHT. This is the first in her notable three-book trilogy featuring the charming Margaret of Ashbury, whose mysterious healing power is at the heart of the book.
Barbra
As much as I tried I could not get into this book. I like historical fiction but this just couldn't keep my attention and in the end I just gave up.

Back Cover Blurb:
A Vision....of 14th century England - a time of crude country villages, brawling towns, and splendid cities teeming with untold riches and strange wonders.
A Vision....of demons and angels, simpletons, holy flagellants, and fools...of travelling players, corrupt priests, and merchant princes, of brave knights and pale ladies languishi...more
Melanie
This was a very interesting read. I enjoyed reading about the different ideas of people back in the 1300's. Some things bugged me, not because they were bad in the book, but because I was annoyed at comments from some characters. Such as talking about the inferiority of women, one Priest even called midwifery the devils work (there should be no ease to labor because that was God's punishment to Eve, or women were ignorant, fickle, couldn't think, etc. Despite that, I liked the way the character...more
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What's The Name o...: Medieval short series [s] 4 31 Jun 28, 2013 08:13PM  
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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...
The Oracle Glass In Pursuit of the Green Lion (Margaret of Ashbury, #2) The Serpent Garden The Master of all Desires The Water Devil (Margaret of Ashbury, #3)

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“Margaret looked up at him from where she sat by the window.

"Oh, Brother Gregory, what's wrong with your hand"

"I'm just scratching it; it itches."

"Really, is it red?"

"No, it's just a bite. You gave me a flea."

"I don't have fleas, Brother Gregory," insisted Margaret.

"Everyone has fleas, Margaret. It's part of God's plan."

"I don't. I wash them off."

"Margaret, you haven't any sense at all. They just hop back. You can't wash enough to keep them off."

"I do."

"Aren't you afraid your skin will come off? It could, you know. That's much worse than fleas." Brother Gregory spoke with an air of absolute certainty.

"Everyone tells me that. It hasn't come off yet."

"Margaret, you're too hardheaded for your own good. Now take for your next sentence, 'Fleas do not wash off.'"

"Is this right?" She held up the tablet, and Brother Gregory shook his head in mock indignation.

"I despair of you, Margaret. Flea is not spelled with one e--it's spelled with two.”
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