96 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2011
I read a lot of English historical fiction. I was really surprised to see all the good reviews for this book. I thought much of it was boring, hard to read, very contrived and unrealistic. Also there is a disturbing amount of abuse of the heroine, including multiple rapes - and the heroine keeps going back for more. SPIOLERS ALERT: At least four characters (Sam/William and Nick/John)are violently abusive to the main character.
The only interesting thing about it for me was the look at the life of Moll Wallbe. I could barely get through this book and was glad when it was over.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2003
Lady of Hay makes a promising start. Jo is a young journalist who researches past life regression for a magazine article. As research, she undergoes hypnosis and discovers that she is not only easily hypnotized (so easily that later in the book someone calls and hypnotizes her over the phone!) but in a previous life she was Matilda de Braose, a 12th century Welshwoman. How exciting, I said to myself. This could be very fun. Matilda is a real historical figure. I love historical fiction. I would enjoy the puzzle of matching past lives with present characters, and of course I hoped for romance. But alas...it was not to be.
The first half of the book was great. It keeps up a good pace and intriguing events unfold as Jo and her present life alternate with regressions to Matilda's existence. But by the second half of the book there is no new material and far too much repetition as well inexplicable violence against the main character that simply turned me off to her possible love interests. In the 1st half of the book we learn that 3 men love Jo in both the past and the present and we know who they were in their past lives. We also learn about the end of Matilda's life very early in the story. So where can the author take us from here?
I hoped that some of the modern day characters besides the 3 men would eventually be revealed to have some involvement in the past lives or a more important role in the present. However, they don't. I also expected that that the author might expand on history and offer an explanation for the legend of Matilda building Hay castle in one night. She doesn't. And I was disappointed with the mundane theory about rumors that Matilda was a witch. The explanation: she studied herb lore with her nurse Jeanne and rides horses swiftly, like a man. But perhaps most disappointing of all is the fact that Nick, the man she is in love with in the present was very cruel to her in her past life and not very nice to her in the present and there is no satisfactory explanation of why. Nor did it seem that his behavior was ever an obstacle to their relationship in the present. And what about Sam's behavior? The actions of 2 of Jo's lovers leaves me questioning how much if at all, they really care(d) for her. Richard was the one nice guy and I was hoping he would somehow turn out to be a hero, but when he turns out to be a junkie I think my hopes for a satisfying finale were extinguished.
Maybe the fact that 3 men are supposedly in love with the main character is the romantic attraction of this book. Or is it Jo's suffering that is intended to be attractive? Perhaps I was ultimately disappointed because of the promising start, but my advice is to skip this book.
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2011
I read this book based on the recommendation by a friend and was surprised by how much I loved it. For some reason, the back cover summary left me skeptical and unconvinced. I finished the book tonight and loved it! The mix of a modern day story versus the period time story of the "past life" kept me interested and turning the pages (or pushing my Kindle button forward is more like it). I think people who are fans of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon will relate well to and enjoy this book as well. Don't let the "past life" part scare you off. Highly recommend it!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2011
This book started off so well but it was incredibly long and drawnout!I almost lost the will to live! The basic premise of the book was great but it started to get sillier and sillier as it went along. Pity because it had all the ingredients for a good read.......
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2000
What wonderful news to see a classsic book make a reappearance. Who can we thank for such insight? LADY OF HAY is classic past lives/reincarnation, certainly a step up from current time travel . This is where it all started influencing authors such as Jeanette Baker and Jude Deveraux. LADY OF HAY was a wonderful read when it first came out and is now a classic in its own right, sure to help a whole new generation of readers discover this exceptional author. The concept of writing two storylines in two seperate time periods with each effortlessly interwoven with the other is only possible because of the exceptional writing talent of Ms Erskine. If you are reader who devours all sorts of the paranormal historicals and historical romances this one should be an automatic buy, because this is where is all began. This is not time travel this is reincarnation and no one does it better than Barbara Erskine. Jody Allen, Charter member-RIO Reviewers International Organization
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2011
Lady of Hay is one of the most interesting books I've read this year. The attention to detail of events from the 12th and 13th centuries, counterposed against modern times, grabbed my attention right from the start. The thought of being able to travel to the past has always intrigued me, and this book didn't disappoint. It is well plotted and the characters are well developed.
While those characters are certainly all too human, Sam is probably one of the snarkiest villians I've read about in recent months. Of course, there's the argument -- was it all planned by Sam in his evil, twisted mind, or was he really William? Was Nick really King John, or did Sam really do a number on Nick via hypnotic suggestion? Was Jo just an impressionable woman, hoisted on her own petard of vivid imagination and a love of history, or was she really a reincarnation of Matilda?
Each reader must make his/her own decision. Me? I just went along for the ride and enjoyed every moment. Along the way, I learned a bit more about English history ... and that's a good thing, too.
I highly recommend this book for a jolly good read.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2012
I read this book years ago, must have been not long after it first came out. I remembered really liking it and looked forward to re-reading it. What a difference on the second reading! The male/female relationships are so dated. The violence and abuse against Jo are horrible, and her taking it and going back to her rapist over and over are appalling. The characterizatons are two dimensional, and the writing is melodramatic and ridiculous. I'm quite frankly ashamed of my younger self for liking it so much. There are much better "past life" novels out there; " The Winter Sea" by Susanna Kearsley is one that I recently read and thought quite good. I would stay away from this one.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 1998
It's an interesting idea - hypnotically regressed to a former life and forced to relive it - along with your friends - to make up for the mistakes made.
I quite enjoyed this book, but I have to say I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had not recently read Diana Gabaldon's superb 4 book set beginning with Outlander (Cross Stitch in Australia).
These similarly themed (albeit time travel rather than hypnosis) and far far superior novels dampened my enjoyment of the quite well written Barbara Erskine novel.
A comment on Lady of Hay - I found that each time Jo regressed, it took me a little while to work out "where" she was. Often there was a gap of a number of years between the year in one regression and another, even though the regressions occurred within a day or so of each other. I understand that Jo herself did not know "where" she would be until she went back there and 'relived' it, but I'm sure my enjoyment would have been greater if there was some guideline as to the date or year that she was in at the time. Perhaps this could have been done without Jo herself knowing, as a chapter heading or such.
I recommend this book - but read it before the Diana Gabaldon books - AND THEN READ THEM!!!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2002
This was a very interesting read. At first the story line and plot was slow- but when the action got going ,I could barely put the book down. The attention to geographic and historical detail was wonderful and I enjoyed the setting of the book,as it was so refreshingly written in an un-american flavor.
I take into consideration that this was her first book. Inspite of that- the sex scenes were unrealisticly written and dissapointing. I wish she had been more diverse with her descriptive repotoire.Finally I wish the main character Joe was more multi-dimensional. I got a sense that she was more at the mercey of outside forces rather than being able to take control of her own destiny:A strenth that I did sense from the character: Matilda.
For a first Novel it is a good book- and great read to get immersed in but don't take it too seriously..
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2010
Originally posted at:[...]
Absorbing and hypnotic, Lady of Hay seethes and sizzles with emotions that often erupt out of control. Whether in twentieth century or twelfth century, the volatile personalities love, hate, connive, and preserve with intensity as they work out theirs destinies.
The feeling "I've-been-here-before" takes on a whole new meaning when Joanna starts researching regression by hypnosis. Skeptical and expecting to uncover information well suited for her often-vitriolic style of writing, she agrees to be hypnotized to see if she regresses to an earlier time in history.
Wow! What a past emerges--an 800-year-old past. While in a trance, Joanna seems to become Matilda, the lady of Hay in twelfth-century Wales. She takes the reader on a journey full of treachery and passion that mesmerizes.
Both Joanna and Matilda are strong women who strive for control of their own lives while navigating through a maze of ambitious, egocentric men whose jealousies and territorial attitudes play havoc with lives.
Matilda's husband William, ambitious and a user; King John, the cruel royal who feels entitled in every way; and Richard de Clare, who loves and understands Matilda make life a minefield ready to explode with a single misstep on her part.
Joanna is not married but the men in her life begin to take on different personalities from time to time. Nick, Sam, Tim, and Pete make Joanna's twentieth-century life a tangled mess of emotions and danger. Knowing who the bad guys are and who the good guys are is indeed a guessing game.
Barbara Erskine's writing style with layers of plots, strong characters, exquisite imagery, and graphic descriptions, plops the reader down right in the middle of events happening 800 years apart. The supernatural, historical, and the modern day (replete with promiscuity) blend to make LADY OF HAY captivating. The tale gives one pause for thought. Do people work out their own destinies or does some unknown force propel people along?