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4.4 out of 5 stars
Lady of Hay
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2013
I enjoyed reading this book; it was interesting how she created a link between the past and present using hypnotism. I must admit though that what I liked best was Matilda's story and I would have been happier with less of Jo's story.

I don't know if perhaps it is because I am new to this book and am reading it in the 21st century but I did not like how weak Jo was in the "modern" era. It would have been better if she was a stronger character in the 20th century to compare against Matilda who was stuck in a parochial era of male dominance over women.

Obviously domination of women was rife in the 12th century but I was surprised at how complacent Jo was in the 20th century. She was raped and beaten yet she still continued to seek Nick out! I mean, what the hell?! He should have been thrown in prison at the very least! Regardless if it "wasn't really him" (a week position if you ask me considering he beat and raped Jo without being hypnotised which was very odd).

Also Judy seemed to think nothing of Nick slapping her across the face because she shouted at him; she should have chucked him out and never seen him again, not then let him stroke her cheek as if he was sorry! Was this normal in the 1980s?! My mum was born in the 1940s and she has read the book too and said that she would have chucked out any man that treated her that way. It is very strange considering how the author set up Jo as a strong and confident career woman.

Despite this being written by a female author it seems to advocate a lot of violence against women in the 20th century, which I found very uncomfortable. I also didn't like how evil Sam became when it was set up in the prologue that he was a nice guy looking out for a young girl. It didn't really sit very well with me. How did he suddenly transition to this when all he did was listen to Jo's hypnotism tape? He was a Doctor who worked as a hypnotist all the time, why did other characters from his past not pop out and turn him evil when he was listening to previous client's tapes?!! It was a bad character development in my opinion.

Overall I have given in 3 stars because I enjoyed the historical aspects of the book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 January 2007
I enjoyed this, but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it had all been in Matilda's past and skipped the stuff in the present time. The idea of regression was interesting, but it got to be a bit much after a while. I mean, how many people do you know that are experienced hypnotists? And Jo was hypnotized by was it four or five different people? That did become a bit of a stretch towards the end of the book.

Also, unless I missed something, I don't think Sam's obsession with the whole Jo/Matilda thing was explained to my satisfaction. How did he become so evil -- to the point of harming his brother.

You should be advised that this is not your "true" historical fiction. Matilda, William De Braose, Richard, etc. were real people, but as the author notes at the end not all that happened in the book to Jo/Matilda actually happened to the real Matilda. I almost didn't read this book because of what really happened to Matilda -- yes she was held prisoner with her son and they starved to death but the story ended a bit more gruesome than that, if what I read in SKP's Welsh trilogy is true. I was relieved that Erskine left that part out.

Otherwise an interesting read, I blew through it quickly. Four stars instead of five for the inconsistencies.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2011
I love this book - a time slip novel - of which it was one of the first when it was published 25 years ago. It has stood the test of time. ( Daphne Du Maurier's The House on the Strand (Virago Modern Classics) pre dates it. A great read which you will enjoy if you like Barbara Erskine )
I prefer the historical parts, and could have read these as a stand alone novel. Her writing notches up a gear when dealing with the past. I feel she immerses herself in period and relaxes into it. The depth of her research and love of our early history seems to be a foundation which makes the historical sections sure and confident and better paced than the sections dealing with the present. I found the latter a little over-blown dramatically.
However - this novel falls into the category of books I must own, and I enjoy re-reading it.
Try Kingdom of Shadows and Child of the Phoenix. Child of the Poenix is purely historical, and the better for it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2011
I first read Lady of Hay 20 years ago, I actually read Kingdom of Shadows prior to this, and have read every Barbara Erskine book since, House of Echoes being my favourite.

I got stupidly excited when I heard Barbara was bringing Lady of Hay right up to date, but I have to admit to being disappointed by the new story. The story about Maude coming back to show Jo where the lost treasure is is frankly ridiculous, and a bit Famous Five as Ann and Jo go off at night to find the cave. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't this.

Barbara has also not researched her own book, as in the original, Ceecliff is 76, but 25 years on she's only in her 90's?

I'm glad I got a used copy of this book and didn't fork out full whack for it. Now if Barbara were to update Kingdom of Shadows, and researched her own writing properly and it wasn't daft like this new Lady of Hay, that might make good reading.

I say this as a massive fan of Barbara usually.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2013
Having just finished "River of Destiny" by the same author I thought I'd try a few more. I'd recommend "River of Destiny" to anyone but I've got to be honest, I struggled with this one. As other reviewers have mentioned, the main character, Jo, is (a) completely unbelievable and (b) in need of a good slap. I can just about live with the concept of a woman 800 years ago allowing herself to be raped and brutalised, manipulated mentally and live in fear of two men (who she insists on describing as "thoroughly decent" throughout), but a so-called "strong, independent journalist" in the mid-eighties? Whether Erskine has done this deliberately to highlight the similarities between Jo and her historical counterpart is unclear - if that's what she intended, she's not achieved it.

The ending is particularly unsatisfying, nothing is resolved and no answers to anything. The villain vanishes and the survivor and Jo head off blissfully into the sunset. Annoyingly "deus ex machina" in my opinion, and left me with a feeling of having struggled through an overlong book for no apparent reason.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This was the first Barbara Erskine book I ever read, and I totally enjoyed it, and have read it many times since. It is a very romantic and gripping story, and I found it compulsive reading. As the story unfolded, I became completely drawn into the book, and I found the characters totally believable, and the whole concept of two lives entwining throughout history totally captivated me. I found myself longing for the climax of the story, and yet not wanting it to end. A perfect book to read in front of the fire on a dark winters night!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the quintessential time slip book for those who like the genre. I read it first back in the nineteen eighties – not long after it was first published and was hooked from the first page and recommended it to countless other readers. I have only recently re-read it having just read the latest novel by Barbara Erskine – ‘The Darkest Hour’. ‘Lady of Hay’ is every bit as good as I’d remembered it to be and I can see why it started my fascination with time slip stories.

Jo Clifford is regressed to a past life when she is a student as part of a research project. Fifteen years later – now a hard hitting journalist – regression to past lives is a subject she decides to examine in a series of articles. Can she stay objective and analytical about a subject which could affect her very strongly? In the present Jo must decide which of the in her life can be trusted and she is not someone who responds very well to warnings or good advice.

This is a tension filled story with many ramifications in the present and the past. Old enmities have survived eight hundred years and need to be worked out in the present once and for all. It is a long book – over eight hundred pages – but the story is so compelling it will keep you reading. It is not a book to be read in the house on your own late at night as it will makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

If you enjoy mysteries with a difference then try this – or any of Barbara Erskine’s other novels and short stories.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Lady of Hay is a book about Jo, a modern woman (although this is set in the 1980's - no mobile phones or PCs!) who is consistently hypnotised and regressed finding she is Matilda de Braose, wife to a Twelfth century baron. Her lives, past and present, are entangled with the three men who love her.

It's an interesting concept - whether or not the central idea is credible to you or not in real life - but overall I find the book didn't really deliver for me, and I was glad when I finally got through it.

For a start it's too long for the amount of content. I also admit that I found the historical characters more interesting than the modern ones, who at times I found it quite hard to like at all. Jo, supposedly a tough woman, seems totally incapable and manipulated by men - Matilda was much tougher! I think other reviewers have mentioned the incredulity of having so many people pop up who just happen to practise hypnotism - it stretches things a little too far! The character of Sam is odd, as Jo talks about him being a nice, decent bloke, but what the reader sees of his behavious is totally irrational - it doesn't square.

I suppose you could put the whole thing down to overindulgence in alcohol and coffee inducing hallucinations as in the modern part of the novel all the characters seem to be drinking either scotch or copious quantities of coffee - it got to the stage of making me laugh at the absurdity of it all.

International bestseller with over 2 million copies sold it may be, but I don't thik it's one that will be staying on my shelf.
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on 15 October 2010
I'm reading this for a book club and I have to admit I am enjoying it more than I thought. I'm usually more a crime/true crime kind of girl but this makes a nice change. I do agree with a couple of other reviews though - I find Jo a little irritating to be honest and the present day part is just getting in the way for me - I want to read about Matilda whihc surprises me as I didn't expect to be hooked on the "past life". I agree Matilda is a far stronger character than Jo who just needs a good slapping!! As for Nick - what can I say? He's even more wet. He leaves Jo to date another woman who he barely seems to like and keeps returning to Jo. I don't find him particularly likeable or real and Judy is just a total child. Sam starts out a nice guy but is fueled by jealousey and anger. I would have preferred him to have started off a little more "hard" so that this was more believable - instead he seems quite a nice guy at the beginning. I was thrilled to read the bits about Suffolk/Clare and Richard de Clare as I hadn't realised he was a real person so far in the past - my kids attended the Richard de Clare school and I often walked the dog in Clare country park so I found returning there in the book quite fascinating. All is all a good book and will prompt me to read more of Erskine's books but I am disappointed it's not available on the KIndle which I want to buy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2014
I read this years ago, and others by the same author, and enjoyed it. Reading it again now though all these years later, I found the story and its characters irritating beyond description, they way they constantly put themselves in danger for no apparent reason. While I might have given the book 4 stars when I first read it, 2 is all I can manage now on re-reading.

I won't be bothering with anything else by this author this time round. I can suspend disbelief when I read but not to this extent.
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