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More of the same
on 5 May 2015
Most established authors stick to a successful formula once they've found it - and why wouldn't they? - but with Barbara Erskine it's more of a cast iron template.
This tale of widow Lucy, who takes on more than she bargains for when writing the biography of mysterious war artist Evie, follows the pattern exactly: a fragile, plucky and beautiful Mary Sue heroine, at a turning point in her life, is sucked into a mystery and has to grapple with the forces of good and evil in past and present. A handy and handsome hero and a supporting cast of also-rans are happy to rush to her aid at the drop of a hat (not many people are hampered by 9 to 5 jobs in these stories), until the ghosts of the past are (literally) exorcised.
There are plenty of five star reviews for this book, so I'm guessing that most fans weren't disappointed at getting more of the same. Both plot and characters are paper-thin in places, but there's enough suspense to keep you turning the page, with a couple of neat twists towards the end. You might get a bit short-tempered with our droopy heroines in both the modern and wartime sections, and wonder why no-one thinks to consult a solicitor, call the police or even have a proper conversation for so many pages. You might think these particular ghosts and baddies are just a little bit on the daft side. But it makes no claims to be anything other than undemanding escapism, and there are plenty of readers like me who are happy to give the author of Lady of Hay yet another chance.
Just two observations: another terrible cover - were there many Battle of Britain pilots with designer stubble and a haircut like that? And it's a shame that the photographs of the author's father, a real-life fighter pilot, that are included at the end are so poorly reproduced as to be indecipherable.