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REVIEW: A Vision of Light: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel...

Dear Ms. Riley,

vision of lightAfter 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.”


Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Marg
    Jan 24, 2007 @ 16:47:20

    I borrowed this from the library last week. I have heard really good things about it!

  2. Anna
    Jan 24, 2007 @ 16:48:56

    I’m fairly certain I read this about 4 years ago, but I have to have the book in front of me to be sure. I remember LOVING it. Margaret had such a force of personality that I loved. Thank you for this review, I have to go back and read the book and the others in this series – I didn’t know it was a series!

  3. Colleen Gleason
    Jan 24, 2007 @ 17:48:08

    I absolutely loved The Oracle Glass, Master of My Desires and The Serpent Garden. I’m so hoping that Riley has something new coming, now that they’re re-releasing A Vision of Light and In Pursuit of the Green Lion.

  4. Keishon
    Jan 24, 2007 @ 18:52:35

    I have this one and its in ebook format as well. I had no idea it was a series either until you reviewed a previous book by her, The Oracle Glass which I went out and found a copy of but just haven’t read. I’ll be in the mood for something nice and meaty to read later. Thanks for reviewing this one, too.

  5. Ita
    Jan 24, 2007 @ 20:36:42

    You’re in for a treat. It’s got two sequels: IN PURSUIT OF THE GREEN LION and THE WATER DEVIL (which was only available in German for years – how weird is that?). They’re reissuing the first 2 books to coincide with the release of THE WATER DEVIL.

    JM Riley is one of my favorite authors.

  6. Jayne
    Jan 25, 2007 @ 06:28:48

    In Pursuit of the Green Lion is book two and The Water Devil is book three in the series. I believe that Lion was written a few years ago and Devil is new. I’m still waiting to see if they will be released in ebook format but I might have to break down and go ahead and buy them as paperbacks.

  7. kate r
    Jan 25, 2007 @ 08:02:08

    I just realized that I’m a snarling fangirl, because when I saw the B (even with the plus) I got Annoyed. How *dare* anyone give it less than an A?

    I started writing romance because I read a couple and thought, ha, I can do that. This book was one of the first humbling romances I read–I understood I will never be that good. Comforting to know that very few people will.

  8. kate r
    Jan 25, 2007 @ 08:08:34

    actually the Water Devil isn’t that new–it’s only been recently published in English. It’s been out in German for years.

    I want more, dammit.

  9. Jayne
    Jan 25, 2007 @ 10:26:20

    Well, I think I might have known she has more books out in German. OK, now they’re in English but when are they going to be ebooks?!

  10. Robin
    Jan 25, 2007 @ 13:44:47

    I just went on to Amazon and bought Master of all Desires as my introduction to her books. Ironically, Merkle is a poli sci professor at one of my alma maters (Claremont McKenna College), and I wonder if I took a class from her. Her name is EXTREMELY familiar to me, but not from fiction writing. So here’s one more vote from me for posting the odd DNF review. Now, f only I could remember how I know her . . .

  11. LinM
    Jan 25, 2007 @ 15:36:57

    Thanks for recommending this – sounds fascinating. I got the ebook today. After reading Kate R’s post, I realised that I ususally read the DA reviews but seldom look at the grade – funny.

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