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A vision of light
Riley, Judith Merkle.
Adult Fiction RILEY

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In this bouncy first novel, 14th century Englishwoman Margaret of Ashbury heeds a ``voice'' commanding her to compose her life story. Her kindly old husband Roger Kendall pays for her to dictate her memoirs to unfrocked Brother Gregory. Margaret's scribe grumbles initially about the story's ``trivia, and everyday matters,'' but her adventures win him over. First married at 14 to a sadistic fur merchantreputed to be the Devilwho leaves her for dead during the Plague, Margaret survives to become apprenticed to the herbalist Mother Hilde. In trances of divine light Margaret gains the healing gift, and envisions a forged, steel-fingered weapon for the soldierly work of midwifery. But these forceps and Margaret's powers stir the envy of priests and male doctors, and she is forced to clear herself of witchcraft. The minor characters are stiff and the dialogue is stilted at times, but details of clothing, crafts and interiors, as well as period scenes peopled with robbers, flagellants and strolling players are well realized. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

If Brother Gregory had not been so poor and hungry, he would never have consented to Margaret of Ashbury's request to record her life. Such an assumption of control over her own life through the relation of her history strikes at the heart of male hegemony. Moreover, her life as a faith healer and midwife devoted to relieving the misery of women and the poor threatens the patriarchal hierarchy, both sacred and secular, of 14th-century England. Rich in revealing and well-integrated historic detail, this first novel gives readers a courageous, enchanting heroine who illuminates the female condition and wins the sympathy and respect of the other characters and the reader alike. Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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