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REVIEW: The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley

Dear Ms. Riley,

1073557.gifI spent my formative romance reading years devouring the “Angelique” series which begins in 17th century France at the court of the Sun King and have enjoyed movies using this time frame. So, when this book was mentioned at AAR after someone posted asking for books which are rich in period detail and historically accurate, I took notice.

The time and the background (during the reign of the Sun King and involving the Parisian underworld of poisoners and the occult) sounded intriguing. Genevieve Pasquier is an engaging lead character. The daughter of a loveless marriage in a time during which women have little if any power or control over their lives and smart women are a nuisance, she manages to gain wealth and independence. La Voisin, a real life person, grooms her to present herself as the 150 year old reader of an oracle glass, a sort of scrying bowl in which the future can be seen. Genevieve thinks it’s all a crock but goes along with it. Along the way, she will see the worst in humanity, manage to find her true love and barely escape with her life.

Written mainly in first person, it does a great job with the details and historical “feel,” and has a dry, subtle wit that I enjoyed. There are parts dealing with the witches that are a bit icky (the ultimate fate of the heroine’s thoroughly nasty uncle is one) that might best be skipped if readers have a queasy tummy and the nonchalant attitude towards Black Masses of La Voisin will send a chill down anyone’s spine.

But if people are looking for something slightly different, though not a true romance book, this one is worth a look. B+

~Jayne

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.

10 Comments

  1. Keishon
    Aug 17, 2006 @ 09:23:56

    Oh, thank you. Is this one available as a ebook? I know one of her books is in that format. I’ve always wanted to read her and have heard good things about her work. I’ll have to get this one, thanks, book pimp.

  2. Sandy C
    Aug 17, 2006 @ 11:22:02

    Wow, I hadn’t thought of those Angelique books in years. They were certainly quite risque for a 13 year old. I’m kind of surprised now that they were actually in my small town library! Thanks for bringing up some fond memories.

  3. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2006 @ 12:35:26

    Keishon, no this one isn’t out as an ebook. At least not now. I’ve been eyeing the one ebook she has released which (I believe) is the first in a series.

  4. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2006 @ 12:51:18

    Sandy, do these covers bring back any more memories? ;)

    I agree that these were racy for a 12 year then. Now, maybe not so much but I made sure that my mother never saw them! I lost interest in the series after Angelique reached Canada and Joffrey was such an ass to her about their children. Putz!

  5. Sandy C
    Aug 17, 2006 @ 13:12:14

    Yes, they do bring back memories, Jayne. It’s funny that I remember the really outstanding stuff I read back then like Heyer and Laura London, but the potboilers (and Anglelie would qualify, don’t you think?) I’ve forgotten. Well, until you very pleasantly reminded me! (BTW, I kept them hidden, too!) Dare I ask if you ever did time in Cartland-land?

  6. Marg
    Aug 17, 2006 @ 14:53:34

    Another one added to the TBR list!

  7. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2006 @ 15:41:47

    but the potboilers (and Anglelie would qualify, don’t you think?) I’ve forgotten. Well, until you very pleasantly reminded me! (BTW, I kept them hidden, too!) Dare I ask if you ever did time in Cartland-land?

    Oh, definitely a potboiler. I also recall another series like it with another French heroine named Catherine set in the 15th century. It started in France and had one book set in Muslim Granada then back to France. Juliette Benzoni is the author. That type of series must have been popular in the 60s/70s.

    And yes I read my share of Dame Barbara’s books. Until it dawned on me that it was the same book over….and…over (I type breathlessly). And all the cover models started to remind me of praying mantises with their little heart shaped faces and BIG eyes staring up at the brooding manly man among men heroes.

  8. Sandy C
    Aug 17, 2006 @ 16:45:52

    And yes I read my share of Dame Barbara’s books. Until it dawned on me that it was the same book over-.and-over (I type breathlessly). And all the cover models started to remind me of praying mantises with their little heart shaped faces and BIG eyes staring up at the brooding manly man among men heroes.

    And remember how they were always having to grab the back of a chair to keep from swooning at those incredible (and totally chaste) kisses? I’m happy to say that I dwelled far more often in Laura London and Heyer-land – and in those Candlelight Regencies, generally, anyway – than with Dame Barbara.

    And, damn it, if that Catherine series isn’t sounding familiar, too! You really are taking me back, Jayne! Not to a really good place, mind you, but definitely back!

    So, were we both little library nerds, or what?

  9. kate r
    Aug 18, 2006 @ 07:49:33

    I LOVE Judith Merkle Riley. L O V E H E R. I want to know why the hell she doesn’t have more books out.

    That’s all.

    oh and Try her Margaret of Ashbury books, okay? You won’t be disappointed. The hero is irrascible and wonderful. They’re on my keeper shelf.

  10. Daily Deals: A recommended historical novel, an old fashion space opera, and two others
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 20:36:08

    […] Jayne gave this book a B+: […]

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