- Virginia Johnson
In A Vision of Light, by Judith Merkle Riley, Margaret of Ashbury is a rather ordinary albeit quite pretty woman—ordinary that is, except for the Voice she sometimes hears and the visions she sometimes sees. One day, the Voice tells Margaret that she should write a book about the extraordinary things that have happened to her. She argues with the Voice… she is a woman so who would listen to her, and what is more, like nearly everybody, she does not know how to write. And further, she has not done any great deeds worth writing about.
The Voice answered:
“Put in it what you have seen. There is nothing wrong with being a woman, and doing ordinary things. Sometimes small deeds can show big ideas. As for writing, do as others do: get someone to write it for you.”
“Voice,” I said, “how do I know you are from God, and not the Devil, tempting me into something foolish?”
“Margaret,” answered the Voice, “isn’t it a good idea? God never gives bad ones.”
Margaret is at last convinced. Her reluctant scribe, however, is not. But young Brother Gregory is literally starving for work so he temporarily puts aside his scorn for the pampered housewife and agrees to pen her life story. Unlike Margaret, he has a very different idea of how the world works—and its places for men and women.
So he finds himself succumbing to the temptation of her proffered bakeshop meat pie as readily as Adam did to the Apple. He begins the job. Before long he is drawn into the terrible, wonderful story of Margaret’s life. As it progresses, the two spar with humor and with wit, though granted most of the humor is on Margaret’s part. Before long, he is forced to concede that a great scholar was lost when Margaret was born a woman. Soon readers discover that his own life as the intelligent, unappreciated son of a petty, greedy noble is anything but a simple blessing.
A Vision of Light is the first book of Margaret’s adventures, which continue with In Pursuit of the Green Lion and The Water Devil. Judith Merkle Riley had a gift for vivacious, humorous storytelling in well-done historical settings that make for memorable reading.