When did I last read this book? I'm going to guess ten years ago, at least. But it continues to enchant. Riley creates such incredibly memorable characters, who act, think and feel like real people, not medieval paper dolls. The rich, brightly colored setting she creates for these characters to inhabit is often surprising and always wonderful. Calling the medieval historical novel she's written a medieval tapestry is trite covered with mildew - but perhaps I can get away with an illuminated manuscript? She writes (in gold ink) what's going on in the margins and in the middle of the O's and P's and under the A's.
SPOILER... There is a homosexual character who comes to a bad end, who is evil on top of that - I think if Riley (RIP) were writing today, she'd definitely get called out for having a character like this. It definitely left a sour taste in my mouth that I don't remember having the last time or two I read this book. However, gay men can be creepy villains too - having every gay in every book be a superhero is beyond the pale.
A Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Calling this historical fiction novel a medieval tapestry would be trite, covered with mildew, clearly cliched, hokier than the hokey-pokey -but perhaps I can get away with illuminated manuscript, written in gold ink? Riley fills in all the illumined details along the margins, in the Os and Ps, under the As, sliding down the Ws and Vs. Those details include a rich, multi-colored stained glass setting, and memorable, soundly written living breathing characters that you soon grow to love (or hate, as the case may be). I've read this book several times, and each time I come away enchanted - and even though I know the ending already, I'm still biting my nails several times for Margaret's (unfair) plight. Spiritual, humorous, feminist. Pair this with Catherine, Called Birdy for a medieval faire.
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