Lady of Hay 25th Anniversary Edition By Barbara Erskine

Upon the UK publishing of the 25th Anniversary Edition of my favorite Barbara Erskine novel, Lady of Hay, I ordered it immediately. A week later, I opened my AmazonUK package and just held the large paperback novel in my hot little hands. Having read it previously, several years ago, I was extremely tempted to flip to the end of the book and just read the short synopsis to find out what happened to these beloved characters all these years later...However, I did not!
I resisted temptation and took my time re-reading Lady of Hay again. This experience was better than a high school or college reunion. Trust me, I got reacquainted with some old friends, sat down, said hello and just enjoyed the feeling of getting lost in the present day and much treasured medieval history storylines once again.

So I will not be providing my usual book review. Instead, I am sharing my thoughts on the novel,the author, as well as the setting. I believe that giving a thorough review for Lady of Hay will ruin the experience for a first time reader! So, if you decide to give this book a go, just enjoy it!

Barbara Erskine
Barbara Erskine has a degree in mediaeval Scottish history from Edinburgh University.
A historian by training, Barbara Erskine is the author of twelve bestselling novels that demonstrate her interest in both history and the supernatural, plus three collections of short stories. Her books have appeared in at least twenty-six languages. Her first novel, Lady of Hay, has sold over two million copies worldwide. She lives with her family in an ancient manor house near Colchester and in a cottage near Hay-on-Wye.

Book Synopsis
Jo Clifford, successful journalist, is all set to debunk the idea of past-life regression in her next magazine series. But when she herself submits to a simple hypnotic session, she suddenly finds herself reliving the experiences of Matilda, Lady of Hay, the wife of a baron at the time of King John.

As she learns of Matilda's unhappy marriage, her love for the handsome Richard de Clare and the brutal threats of death at the hands of King John, it becomes clear that Jo's past and present are hopelessly entwined and that, eight hundred years on, a story of secret passion and unspeakable treachery is about to begin again...

This iconic book, after 25 years continuously in print and translation into some 30 or so languages, is re-issued in a 25th anniversary edition, including a new chapter which brings the story right up-to-date.

A tall tale about reincarnation upwards of 500 pages! Lady of Hay was published in paperback in 1987: Keep that in mind...(NO COMPUTERS AND NO MOBILE/CELL PHONES at the time! Calls come in to your home phone on an 'answering machine'! Remember the days of NOT being reached 24hrs, 7 days a week).

Lady of Hay was my introduction to Barbara Erskine novels. Whether you call them 'time travel, time slip, or supernatural/paranormal reincarnation novels, Barbara Erskine is one of the best writers out there! I have read and enjoyed all her novels. Up until this year, they were impossible to buy in the states. I have ordered them from AmazonUK. Over the years,I've scoured used bookstores all over the East Coast to no avail. I would truly be lost without imported mail!

A Barbara Erskine novel is always beautifully written; weaving well thought out multi-layered plots with complicated characters who live in luscious settings. As a reader, I get to escape to a town called Hay-on-Wye in Wales! Most Americans will never get there but I have to brag now and say that I have been to Wales, staying at The Hand Hotel in Llangollen!

The town of Hay-on-Wye is located in Powys, mid Wales. Hay's main attraction is a ruined castle, not on a distant hill, but right there in town. To look at it is to set the imagination going, and that is what happened to Barbara Erskine. Hay Castle, she found out on inquiry, was built by Matilda de Braose, a Welsh border baroness who died in 1211, thrown into an oubliette by bad King John, the one who had the Magna Carta forced on him. An oubliette, if you don't have the dictionary handy, is a dungeon cell with a trapdoor in the ceiling, where prisoners were left to be forgotten until they died of thirst and starvation.

In the story, the modern heroine, Jo Clifford, and her medieval other self, Matilda de Braose, are not the only characters linked by reincarnation. The present-day protagonist discovers that almost everybody she knows is also a transplant from the 12th Century. "One of the fascinating things about reincarnation," Barbara Erskine says, "is that we come back in groups. That's why we like or dislike certain people at first sight. If we keep coming back through enough centuries, we eventually have a chance to work out our relationships."

For more information on Hay Castle, some photos of the castle itself and the surrounding area, or just to read the town history, click the link,

“Combining the two periods seems to make the history more palatable and more accessible,” says Barbara, whose Lady of Hay broke new ground with its ‘time-slip’ construction.

“I’d like to think that Lady of Hay changed the climate,” she says now.

Each book takes Barbara an average of two years to complete, principally because of the amount of research and the fact that she is writing two stories.

“People have asked if I write one period first and then the other,” she explains. “But it doesn’t work like that. The two are so closely interlinked that when I’m writing it I’m totally in whichever bit I’m writing. I switch in and out because, if the links don’t work for me, they won’t work for the reader.”

Writing historical fiction clearly involves large amounts of research, but opting for the Celtic period allows plenty of room for a novelist to allow her imagination free rein: “I get everything right that I possibly can but in the medieval ones, there are a certain number of gaps and in the new book there were more than usual,” Barbara explains. “As a novelist you get to fill in the gaps, which is lovely.” (Quotes taken from Hereford Times Article, 07/10/08).

For more information about Barbara Erskine, check out her website,

Thank you for stopping by. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions!


CelticLady said…
I also had to scour the internet to find this book. It was quite a few years ago, when I had my first computer..I found a copy and it has become my favorite book of its kind. I loved how she took the "modern" day characters and put them into the past so convincingly... Lucky you for having been to Wales. I have been to Ireland twice.
Kimberly Eve said…
Yes,CelticLady,what would we do without the Internet? It has become such a lifeline providing a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas and opinions with like-minded writers, authors, and readers! I am forever grateful!
Oh, lucky you, I have always wanted to go to Ireland and visit various Celtic history sites and of course the Dublin pubs!
Anonymous said…
You captured my interest in the book, the author, and the topic of reincarnation. As always, an excellent presentation and stimulation for the brain cells! gigigirl
Kimberly Eve said…
Wow, thanks gigigirl! You are too kind!

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