Dec. 17th, 2014

jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
When you're feeling below par, and want to be entertained by what you're reading more than you want to be challenged or made to think, which author(s) do you turn to?

For me, it's often Barbara Erskine.

Back in the 1980s, her revolutionary debut novel, 'The Lady of Hay,' marked a new approach to the historical novel, and was an enormous success. Since then, Erskine has written a veritable library of novels in the same vein, all of which include elements such as time-slip (i.e. characters in the present being drawn back to a time in the past through such mechanisms as past-life regression), ghosts and the supernatural, and obscure corners of distant British history. She has a gift with conveying the past in an accessible manner, and has a wonderful storytelling voice.

Over the years, I've dipped in and out of her catalogue, enjoying some books more than others, as is pretty normal with an author as prolific as Erskine.

Not long ago, I picked up a couple of her recent novels at a discounted price, and since I haven't read anything by her for a lot of years, I reckon it's time to dip back in and find out what she's up to these days.

While she has a large and adoring readership, Erskine does also come in for criticism as a one-trick pony, with reviewers often commenting that her tried-and-tested formula has never again succeeded as well as it did with her first novel, which is a fair point. That said, I'm approaching my new Erskine with an open mind. I read the first couple of pages last night, and was reminded again of her way with words and gift for storytelling, and frankly, the way I'm feeling at the moment, that'll do me nicely.

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jennygordon

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