Friday, April 16, 2010

Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine

Released: 1986

If you're in the mood for an epic drama, then Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine  is definitely the book to read. This beautiful, extraordinary novel involves hypnosis and past-life regression that flips between modern times and historical days of the Welsh.

Lady of Hay is the story of Jo Clifford, a head-strong journalist who falls prey to being an easy subject for past-life regression within hypnosis, or even reincarnation. When Jo is under hypnosis, she lives the life of Matilda de Braose; a woman head-strong in her OWN time during the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Not only does Jo bring components of Matilda back to present time (scars and bruises for example), but we also begin to learn that her present-day lover Nick and his brother Sam are also present-day men that knew Matilda. WHAT?! you may ask?

Lady of Hay is abundantly full of intrigue, suspense, and violence, and is good enough to keep your interest despite its length of over 700 pages. Lady of Hay will pull you in; and its combination of past and present events are distributed evenly and tastefully throughout the book. We become frustrated that Jo is forever drawn to Nick, whose past-life character continues to hurt her, and we also become emotional when dealing with Matilda's life woes and hardships. The only aspect of the book I disagree with is Jo's weakness in regards to Nick. I figured a strong, intelligent woman would not keep succumbing to Nick's advances. The redundancy of Jo constantly returning to Nick becomes annoying as we reach the end.

Although the novel was written in 1986, Lady of Hay is still very much a classic. The dialogue between the present-day characters is a little time-sensitive and old-fashioned, but it does not deter from the storyline and the joyful experience of the book.

Lady of Hay is Barbara Erskine's debut novel, and I am disappointed that I did not learn about the author sooner. Barbara Erskine is now very prolific in historical fiction featuring Wales, and her latest title is called Time's Legacy. I plan on adding all of Barbara Erskine's novels to my wish list for future reading!

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