In A Vision of Light, Margaret Kendall of Ashbury is a young and beautiful housewife living in 14th-century England. She is the mother of two healthy children, loved, and surrounded by many luxuries, but there is one thing more Margaret wishes, and her doting merchant husband is pleased to indulge her. Yet it is such a shocking thing that it is a harder wish to grant than a ring of rubies. Margaret wishes to write a book.
There are many difficulties. Of course, Margaret can not write--or read, for that matter—so she must find someone willing to take down her words. Three clerics refuse her, but they snigger as they point out their compatriot. Tattered, starving, and arrogant, Brother Gregory takes the job--which comes with frequent visits to Margaret’s well-stocked table. But he does so very grudgingly. What could such a feather-headed female have to say that is worth the expense of setting it down on vellum? A monk-in-training should be writing down great deeds and high-minded, philosophical points—not recipes and domestic notions.
Yet neither housewife nor cleric are as simple as they seem. Margaret’s revelations of her extraordinarily hard past and spiritual experiences shock Brother Gregory. And, underneath that bitter face and tattered cassock, the cleric is hiding several important secrets of his own.
I’m not entirely sure how Judith Merkle Riley managed to keep this book light, comedic, and romantic while still delving into the darkness of human nature during years of plagues and wars. But she does so and beautifully at that. A Vision of Light
is a joy to read. Margaret’s story continues with In Pursuit of the Green Lion
and The Water Devil