Saturday, 19 November 2011

Review: Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine

In London, high-flying journalist Jo Clifford is planning to debunk past-life regression in a hard-hitting magazine piece. But her scepticism is shaken when she undergoes hypnosis and finds herself reliving the experiences of Matilda, Lady of Hay, a noblewoman during the reign of King John. As she learns of Matilda's unhappy marriage, her love for the handsome Richard de Clare and the brutal threats of death at the hands of King John, it becomes clear that Jo's past and present are hopelessly entwined and that, eight hundred years on, a story of secret passion and unspeakable treachery is about to begin again!

 Paperback, 760 pages

Terri's review

I must admit with some guilt that it has been some time since I have posted a review.  With the end of summer came a new puppy and my time no longer became my own.  Now that she is getting a little older and slightly better behaved I thought it was a good time to post a review again.  While I have read some other books, I am afraid they may have to go without a review since they are no longer fresh in my mind.

This book was right up my alley as far as the genre that I currently prefer.  It tells the story of a present day character who lives the life of a person from the past via hypnosis.  As is typical of these types of books, I much preferred the story of the past then the story in the present and I found that I had to keep reading to find out what would occur next.

I enjoyed this book immensely however I will admit that there were several things that had me puzzled and frustrated at times.  The first has nothing to do with the plot however I found several typo's and grammatical errors in this book.  I found this very odd since the book has been in publication for over 25 years and I would have thought that it would be edited for such things.  Alas it was not.  Another thing that I struggled with at first but was able to overcome was the age of the book.  since it was written in the 80's, it referred to things such as cassettes and record players, a foreign concept by today's standards.  I got over this quickly as I am old enough (barely) to remember what life was like before our current technology.

Getting back to the plot, this was a story of love over hundreds of years.  I was frustrated though that the characters in the present day were not as likeable as I would have liked.  Without giving any spoilers, some characters behave in ways that I found difficult to forgive and root for.  I found the link between the characters of the past and present not what I would have expected or wanted and not necessarily for the best outcome.  The best way to describe the feeling I had while reading this book is frustrated.  One may think that because of this I would give the book a poor rating.  This is not the case.  As I reflect on the emotions I went through while reading this book, I think that this is exactly what Erskine intended when writing it.  Although the characters and links were not to my preference, I still could not put the book down as I wanted to find out what would happen next and how everything would tie together.

I know my review is pretty vague as I feel a little out of practice.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of historical fiction and wants to get lost in a world 800 years ago.  The character of Matilda was strongly written and likeable even if the current day characters were not.  I do not think that this book will disappoint however do not expect everything to fall in to place with the usual formula of similar books.

Lastly I will add that the copy of this book that I purchased was the 25th anniversary edition.  With this came a bonus short story at the end telling what occurs 25 years later.  I say skip this story.  Although I can see what the intentions were about giving an update of the main characters, I felt that it did not follow the same formula or flow as the original story.  I struggled with it and found that I did not enjoy it near as much as the book.

Terri's rating

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