Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Tribute to Judith Merkle Riley

A sad note: Judith Merkle Riley, the author of six acclaimed historical novels, passed away on September 12 from ovarian cancer. Ms. Riley, a professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College, published her novels between 1989 and 1999. A VISION OF LIGHT, IN PURSUIT OF THE GREEN LION, and THE WATER DEVIL form a trilogy set in 14th century England. Her three other novels, THE ORACLE GLASS, THE SERPENT GARDEN, and THE MASTER OF ALL DESIRES, are all set, partially if not wholly, in sixteenth or seventeenth century France. You can read a tribute to Ms. Riley's life and works here.

Ms. Riley was one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed all of her novels immensely--so much so that I wrote her my first and only fan letter. I never expected to hear back from her, but she sent a warm response, thanking me for my praise and encouraging me in my own writing endeavors. I believe she was the guest of honor at the first North American Historical Novel Society Conference, the only HNS Conference I was unable to attend. I always regretted missing the opportunity of meeting her in person and hearing her speak about her craft.

I highly recommend her books, historical fiction with a fantastical bent. I have only the final book of the trilogy left to read. Now I will read it slowly and savor it, knowing that, unfortunately, it is truly the last.


lucyp said...

Great minds blog alike. I'm glad I still have a few of hers still to read.

Julianne Douglas said...

I'd wondered why she hadn't published any more books in recent years. She must have been battling the cancer.

Her Margaret of Ashbury was such a delightful character!

Anonymous said...

Oh I am SO sorry to hear this. RIP, Judith and thank you for all your wonderful books.