Judith Merkle Riley dies at 68

I was very sad to learn this morning of the death of Judith Merkle Riley from ovarian cancer. When her A Vision of Light, about an unusual medieval mystic in the tradition of Margery Kempe, came out in 1989, it was a groundbreaking work, fitting an imagined character into a convincing and well-realized medieval setting. The last of her books I read was The Oracle Glass, about poisoners and witchcraft in seventeenth-century France. Like her first book its main charm was the compelling character of her female lead.

Here is her obituary in the Los Angeles Times. Sixty-eight is much too young.

4 thoughts on “Judith Merkle Riley dies at 68

  1. Kathy

    I didn’t know Judith had left us almost two years ago. I’m stricken with a sense of loss. “A Vision of Light” is one of my favorites of all times.

  2. Karen McCaffery

    Judith Merkle Riley is dead? My favorite writer of all time is dead? The woman who gave us the indomitable Suzanna Dallet, is gone? I’ve read the Serpent Garden maybe five or six times. God Bless you Judith! Your imagination got me through some hard times.

  3. Paula LH

    I exchanged emails with her back in 2005. At the time she said that The Water Devil would shortly be released, and that did happen. She also said that she was nearing completion of a 7th novel. That has never showed up, and I have always wondered what happened to it. Perhaps because of her illness she set it aside. Perhaps she took another look at it and decided it was not up to her standard. But I must admit, I have not yet given up hope that someday it will appear.

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