There’s nothing like rediscovering an old favorite. This week, I went back to my Renaissance roots with Judith Merkle Riley’s The Master of All Desires, in which a would-be poetess with a difficult family finds herself accidentally in possession of the Undying Head of Menander, a sinister wish-granter who delights in causing doom and chaos. With the help of Nostradamus, she manages to survive French politics, Menander, and the machinations of disappointed suitors who are after her dowry (or Menander). For other history nerds out there, the send-ups of Catherine de’ Medici, Diane de Poitiers, Henri II, and a very young Mary Queen of Scots are wickedly brilliant (and spot-on).
It’s hard to find anything comparable to Judith Merkle Riley’s novels. The closest comparison would probably be Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, which combines the same rich historical detail with quirky humor, although Merkly Riley’s books all also contain a touch of the supernatural. (They did like their alchemy and diabolism in the Renaissance!) Sadly, there are only six Judith Merkle Riley books in the world– A Vision of Light and two sequels (medieval), The Serpent Garden (Tudor), The Master of All Desires (French Renaissance), and Oracle Glass (court of Louis XIV), but they are all richly researched, brilliantly funny, and hold up to any number of re-reads.
Having got that out of my system, I now have a big pile of new books to read, including two Carol Goodmans, two Elly Griffiths, a Mary Kubica, and The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life (which someone recommended over on my Facebook author page).
What have you been reading this week? And what are you planning to read over the July 4th weekend?