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The Oracle Glass Paperback – Feb 2 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Paperback, Feb 2 1995
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd; New edition edition (Feb. 2 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340609931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340609934
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.9 x 3.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,562,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

From the author of In Pursuit of the Green Lion comes a novel set in 17th-century Paris and Versailles, tinged with the occult and a feminist sensibility. The younger daughter of a loveless marriage between a scholar and a woman of high breeding, Genevieve Pasquier appears to have few prospects, since she was born with a deformed leg. Taught Latin by her father, however, she has a keen intelligence that stands her in good stead when, after leaving home as a teenager, she is adopted by a wealthy fortune-teller as her protegee. Genevieve has the gift of seeing the future in water, a talent that Catherine Montvoison, a real-life figure who was both a seer and an undercover abortionist to the aristocracy, quickly exploits. Played out against the background of Louis XIV's court, the narrative offers ample glances into the lives of the nobility, as well as intrigue and a love triangle involving Genevieve, an outlaw and a society playwright. Unfortunately, the author's impressive knowledge of the time is offset by wooden characterization and predictable plotting, and her story never quite breaks the bounds of competent genre fiction. Toward the climax, scenes of torture, witch-hunts and executions will satisfy those who like their historical fiction laced with a touch of horror; for readers who enjoy an exotic setting with a celebrity slant, the novel offers an intriguing vacation read.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-Genevieve Pasquier is an educated, skinny, crooked-backed 15-year-old when her beloved father dies. After her uncle rapes her, she runs away, desiring only to end her pain by drowning herself. Instead, she is taken in by La Voisin, a wealthy fortune-teller, abortionist, and chemist who rules the seamier side of 17th-century Paris. La Voisin sets her up in her own business disguised as "Madame de Morville," an 150-year-old seeress who interprets images that appear in an oracle glass. This profitable venture throws young Genevieve into a world of court intrigue, political back-stabbing, demonology, and revenge, and she discovers that she enjoys the independence denied to most women of the time. When she is invited to the palace to read the waters for Louis XIV, she slides from favor and is suspected of participating in a poisoning ring. In a desperate race against time, she must rely on her own wits and on a man she loves to save herself. Mature YAs will relish her development from a weak and naive child to a witty and powerful woman who manipulates degenerate, superstitious Parisian society to her own advantage.
Susan R. Farber, Chappaqua Library, NY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Judith Merkle Riley is one of the best writerrs of historical fiction working today.
As an historian, I am always impressed by Riley's ability to recreate the feeling of a period. The Oracle Glass does a wonderful job of re-creating the world of seventeenth-century Paris where magic and science were uneasy bedfellows.

The story focuses on Genevieve, a young girl who pretends to be an aged crone (very aged---she admits to being well over a 100!). Genevieve works for the famed witch, Catherine Montvoisin but she is also a follower of the new philosophy (science).
Underneath the persona of an aged wise woman and fortune teller, Genevieve remains a young girl. And like all young girls, she is in love---first with a conceited fop and then, finally (!) with a man who is her intellectual equal and who loves her more than he loves himself.

This is the kind of book which you will love to read late at night (preferably a cold winter's night). There is a touch of the supernatural in the story---but it is Riley's mastry of the romance novel which really makes this book great reading for late at night!
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Format: Paperback
Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is a bad book. For one thing, it has a great setting: what could be more fun than 17th century Paris mixed with witchcraft and court intrigue? The main character is believable and even intelligent. And the first half of the book is riveting, with a plot that moves along in curves and twists and keeps you coming back for more.
The problems start coming in about halfway through the book. The plot, which had been hurtling along at a brisk pace, grinds to a halt. The characters start to get into a fixed routine that rapidly becomes stale, and all the suspense evaporates. In fact, Genevieve predicts the ending of the book several times throughout the story, so there's no fear of her being killed or even emotionally hurt.
Emotional scenes need work--they have all the plausibility of a B-movie performance. I got the impression that the author has an intellectual understanding of such scenes, without a true grasp of the feeling behind them. As a result, romance is a crutch rather than a highlight of this book. The same holds true for some of the characters--they are intellectual constructs of a certain character type rather than psychologically complex people.
It's also a pity that the court intrigue, so often hyped in the first half of the book, is really not as complex and vivid as it could have been. Perhaps what really irked me about this book is that with such a great setting, the plot had enormous potential, but instead just peters out. It is worth reading to get a feel for the period, and it's fun in its way. I would recommend it to fantasy fans in need of pure escapism, with Riley as a sort of fantasy counterpart to Danielle Steel. If you come to it expecting to have fun and nothing more, you probably won't be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
This is the best book I have read in a long time. Maybe, the best one EVER! I never knew that combining so many genres and characters could result in a stunning achievement! This is the kind of book that makes you want to wish that it never ended. So, when it did, I just started from the beginning. I never got bored!
I was apprehensive about reading "The Oracle Glass" because I have not read anything by this writer before. I got hooked after reading the book jacket because the time of Louis XIV is my favorite period in French history. I have read many books about the real-life characters in this novel, but never were they more hilariously, and accurately!, portrayed than in "The Oracle Glass"!
The main character, Genivieve Pasquier, is refreshing. She is not just very intelligent and well-educated, but clever, witty, and has a dramatic flair. The author takes a chance on making her beauty unconventional. Genivieve has one foot shorter than the other, she is all twisted, and has uncommon, non-classical, features. After the famous sorceress, La Voisin, takes Genivieve under her wing, she does not change her appearance but changes the way people look at Genivieve. I thought that this part was very well thought out. It proves that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and a person is deemed beautiful when they let their inner radiance shine. The fact that she is able to dupe everyone to believe that she is the Marquise de Morville, a 150-year old woman who maintains her youth, is a great lesson in human nature. I also appreciate the fact that she is an independent woman, trying to make a living in a man's world, and succeeding admirably.
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Format: Paperback
Aside from the possibly incorrect portrayal of witchcraft (such as the ridiculous idea of the Black Mass), the remainder of THE ORACLE GLASS is excellent. Through the eyes of a young woman fortune-teller, the reader sees the difficulties of life for women of 17th century Paris - that men forced them to get abortions from quacks so they ended up dead and their bodies were thrown in the alley, that any unmarried woman who ran a business or earned any money could have everything seized by a male relative and she could be locked up in a convent, and the double-standard of married men having as many mistresses as they want but any woman was considered a whore and could be arrested for prostitution. From Genevieve's intelligent logic-and-reason point of view, the overly-plumed, -wigged, and -laced aristocracy and the "witches"
appear very comical. I laughed aloud many times.
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