This was my suggestion for November’s book club. I read ‘The Lady of Hay‘ some 20 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was new, fresh, different and an exciting linking of past and present, fiction and non-fiction and was a brilliant, mystical and spine-tingling read. I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t wait to read more books by Barbara Erskine and there then followed a stream of books of hers which I devoured with a passion. And then I stopped reading her. No reason, just that I moved away from Erskine to read other authors!! So when I saw this book while searching for suggestions for Book Club I jumped at the opportunity to put it forward as our next book, relishing the thought of revisiting the brilliance of Barbara Erskine.
So, what did I make of it?
It was a very good read. However, having read so many of Barbara Erskine books and thoroughly enjoying them all I have to say that I felt that I had ‘outgrown’ her. I once found the mystery, ghostly quality and supernatural theme running though her books thrilling and intoxicating, they kept making me look over my shoulder while reading and listening for noises late into the night, but alas, that enthusiasm wasn’t reignited this time round. I felt that this book did not quite have that magic that the others once held for me. The historical side of Catrin and Dafydd and their involvement with Owain Glyndwr was true to history and very interesting, but their continuous journey around Wales, in and out of castles, singing and entertaining went on 200 miles too far for me!! The modern day story was also a little contrived and predictable and why oh why write a spin off story involving the incredible character of Rhona? I felt she was superfluous to needs.
The story line, plot and character relationships have not changed over 30 years. Miserable/angry handsome male meets unhappy, lost female who instantly dislike each other. The villain / evil lurks in the background and hated male becomes the hero and misunderstood hate becomes passionate love!! The ending of this novel was very predictable and a bit too neat and tidy for me. Andy, the main character was not very likeable either!!
Now, that all sounds very negative, but I would certainly and wholeheartedly recommend Barbara Erskine to you. If you haven’t read her before you may thoroughly enjoy this book but I would suggest you choose an earlier book, preferably They Lady of Hay if you want to read Barbara Erskine at her very best.
Take a look at what Goodreads has to say about Barbara Erskine. I urge you to choose one of her earlier books to read and enjoy!
At Book Club, the book was a relative success. We all enjoyed it but for those reading the work of Barbara Erskine for the first time, one or two will not be reading her again. Others, I am happy to say, will!
We had a lovely evening this month. Hot soup and fresh crusty bread were on the menu followed by – dare I say it – the first taste of Christmas in the form of mince pies, with plenty of wine, as usual or, for the drivers, tea and coffee and lots of discussion both about the book and the choosing of the next one!!
Our next meeting is our Christmas night out and the book we are reading is ‘All the Light We cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr. Look out for the next blog and please leave a message if you have read either books discussed here. It would be lovely to hear from you.