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Topic: June RAL - A Vision of Light - Chapters 4-5

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Subject: June RAL - A Vision of Light - Chapters 4-5
Date Posted: 5/30/2013 7:08 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Discuss chapters 4-5 here. SPOILERS follow ...
Date Posted: 6/3/2013 4:35 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Agh! This book just isnt for me. Its a story about medieval attitudes, mostly toward women. Its also about faith and differences in religous beliefs, mostly Christian. Im bored with it, which places me in a dilemma as Im the discussion leader. If anyone who is more interested in the story wants to take over, Im happy to relinquish my badge. Just let me know.
Date Posted: 6/3/2013 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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Genie, I don't mind taking over as discussion leader.  I am not too far along in the book but I do intend to finish it.

Date Posted: 6/3/2013 7:04 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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@Donna, thank you! Its all yours. :-) i hope i can repay the favor some day.
Date Posted: 6/4/2013 8:15 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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So, what do we think about the "tone" of this book. Genie nailed it ... certainly at this point in the book, we are being heavily instructed in middle ages attitudes and philosophies. 

I do think that Judith Merkle Riley has done an admirable job of showing the different viewpoints and the nuances of the attitudes within the structure of accepted thought and behavior. And the count / counterpoint between Margaret and Brother Gregory is developing nicely to maintain a balance. I personally enjoy the challenges Margaret throws Gregory's way - with such finesse & delicacy; and so on point!

And Brother Gregory! That he has a backstory and demons of his own really adds to the book, IMO. 

Gregory telling Margaret that "A mind was lost to scholarship when you were born a woman." made me laugh out loud. And, I didn't even take offense, because that's what Gregory believed in all sincerity. 

And, as we all know ... it took a looooonnnng time for that attitude to change. My brother sent me an article he stumbled across from the Colorado State Board of Health in 1873 titled The Incompatibility of Higher Education with the Duties of Motherhood. Dr. Palmer compares our ova to chicken eggs, then compares our ability to nurse to a cow's "holding of her milk" under stress. In addition to being compared to a chicken and a cow, he has this little nugget for consideration:

"... it is unnecessary to more than mention the fact that we suffer great prostration after prolonged and enforced mental effort ..."

We, as women, have been fighting against prejudices, fear, ignorance & pig-headed idiocy for centuries and that Riley has given us a credible leading lady that has found a way to be successful within the culture to which she was born is an added dimension to this book.

I'm enjoying it!

Kelly

 

 

Date Posted: 6/5/2013 7:34 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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@Kelly, I really like your analysis and I'm glad you all are finding something redeeming in the novel. Mood really affects my reading and right now, I just don't have the patience for the likes of Brother Gregory. Although I know full well he's a believable character for the times, he just comes across as an idiot to me.

As for Margaret, I don't find her credible. Her beliefs seem too modern to me.

BTW, love the nugget your brother found. Makes me wonder what future generations will think about us. Did you know that equality for gays didn't happen until the 21st Century?!



Last Edited on: 6/5/13 7:35 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 6/11/2013 4:30 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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I love Hilde - definitely a survivor.  A line that made me chuckle:  "Mother Hilde was a mistress of the art of impressive physical bustle."  I think I know some people like that!

A very poignant scene for me was the description of Margaret's first reading lesson when Gregory noticed her hands trembling with anticipation.  I imagine that this was part of her plan all along - to have Gregory teach her to read and in turn to pass that learning along to her girls.   How sad that through the ages literacy has been systematically denied to the powerless in society.  It's sadder yet that there are still places in the world where girls are denied access to education. 

I had hoped that Margaret's spiritual visions and gifts would have been a little more nuanced and open to interpretation - not sure how I feel about that part - but not surprising I guess given the title and cover of the book.

 

 

 

 



Last Edited on: 6/11/13 5:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 6/11/2013 9:01 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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Donna,

Nicely composed thoughts ... and I agree completely about Hilde. I finished the book this morning & I'm not giving anything away by telling you that we will continue to love & admire Hilde!

RE: Margaret's spiritual gifts ... I'm quite okay with that. I firmly believe that if we - as a culture and society - were more receptive & in-tune with the 'other dimensions' that are out there, we would know and accept our own Margarets. I asked the question one time in a small group of colleagues if they had ever felt like a) they were someone else in another life and/or b) if they had ever felt another presence or c) knew there was something else going on. One colleague told me that she once knew a person who seemed to emit a wonderful peace and calm when she was hugged. Anna said it was really something quite remarkable ... every time she hugged this woman hello or good-bye, she was infused with a great sense of well-being.

So, I'm okay with the bit of 'supernatural' that this book contains. My word, knowing the miracles that are freely credited to the saints, a little laying on of hands is nothing too remarkable! :)

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 6/11/2013 9:36 PM ET
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Yes, I'm fine with all of that, too, Kelly. Spiritual gifts can come in many forms. And there are  people who, as you say, seem to emit a peace and calm or even a kind of glow, etc. I guess I'm quibbling a bit about Hilde seeing "orange light with golden points" flowing from Margaret's head and a "yellow light" shining from her face - so much so that it frightened her.  One would not have to be especially sensitive to notice that. It's a small point but I guess I wish Riley had left this mystical manifestation a little less overt.

Date Posted: 6/11/2013 9:58 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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She's writing for the unwashed masses, Donna, the common denominator of readers; not the highly refined, intelligent reader such as, well, such as you & I, dear friend, who don't need to be beat over the head with a point to actually get it. :)

 

 

Date Posted: 6/11/2013 10:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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Ha, I suppose!  But there are tons of subtleties throughout, no?  Margaret's masterful manipulation of Gregory for example. 

I can't wait to learn more about Margaret's husband.  I'm wondering how she found someone so seemingly enlightened.

Date Posted: 6/12/2013 11:51 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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You have hit upon the one thing that I really, really like about this book ... the reader is caught up in the backstory that Margaret is telling ... but can't wait to find out the details of the current story. Who, exactly is Brother Gregory? Who is this wonderful husband who refers to Margaret as his poppet (love that by the way!).

And, I love Margaret's manipulation of Gregory! 

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 6/13/2013 11:01 AM ET
Member Since: 4/27/2007
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I also found it intriguing that Margaret never had spiritual experiences until after the point where she was near death. I couldn't help but draw that correlation and perhaps assume that she had either:

A) Been "chosen" by God (or the spiritual leader of your choice) to accomplish something yet to be revealed, which is why she lived.

B) Had some sort of lingering after effects of plague that caused her to have sensitivity to light and changed perception to outside stimuli, and thought she was hearing voices that were actualy reflections of her own subconcious thoughts.

C) A combination of the two.

Or maybe I'm just generating some mental embroidery and reading too much into things...

 

Date Posted: 6/13/2013 12:08 PM ET
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Great points, Laurie.  She had her spiritual encounter following her own near death and at a time when she was surrounded by so many others who had perished so it makes sense that there's a connection.  It reminds me of people who survive catastrophic events and ask "Why was I spared?"  So often this leads to some spiritual soul searching and they go on to make their lives count in some way.

Date Posted: 6/13/2013 9:51 PM ET
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So well put, Lauri and Donna! I think you both have it quite right!

 

Date Posted: 6/26/2013 10:50 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Wow!  Great discussion you guys, and I agree with so much of it!  I am enjoying the book a lot.  Bro Gregory is one of the characters you sort of "love to hate."  He's so condescending and arrogant, and when you read his thoughts or words you just want to scream, 'You are such a backwards idiot!!!"  However, you also just can't wait to find out what he's going to think/say next, what his full story is, and how long it's going to take him to come around and come to respect and love with Margaret, because you know he's going to.  LOL!  I find Margaret clever and witty and wiley and mischevious, all while being just plain good.  She may be a bit forward for her time, and possibly a bit unrealistically so, but what do I care?  It's a book I'm reading to entertain myself! 

As far as the overt spiritual manifestations, I too would prefer them to be a bit more subtle, but I'm okay with them as is.

Date Posted: 6/26/2013 11:09 AM ET
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Shelley, you described perfectly my thoughts about Gregory when I was at this stage of the book.  And I agree that Margaret is portrayed as a little ahead of her time but that makes for interesting reading.  I have thought some about this issue, which is often a criticism aimed at historical fiction characters - "he or she is just too modern/ahead of his or her time".  It seems to me that many famous people in history and the very best fictional characters do stand out in this way.  It's what sets them apart and makes them either famous as historical figures or exciting to read about as fictional characters. Of course authors can go too far with this, so it's a fine line to walk I suppose.

 

 



Last Edited on: 6/26/13 11:12 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 6/27/2013 3:21 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Donna, excellent thoughts!  I agree.  Many famous historical figures probably were ahead of their time, which is exactly what makes them stand out and be memorable.  A great example would be Eleanor of Aquitaine - a woman who held a great amount of power and sway for her time and who got where she did simply by being bold and, well, ahead of her time.  LOL! 

Date Posted: 6/27/2013 3:42 PM ET
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Shelley, Eleanor of Aquitaine is someone I really need to read more about.  Another example, I think, would be Elizabeth I.