by Barbara Erskine
Barbara Erskine writes books you can get lost in - which I mean mainly as a compliment. These are historical novels that mix past and present, facts with plots that test the limits of fiction. The hero of Time's Legacy is Abi Rutherford, a thoroughly modern Anglican clergywoman. She is young, clever, self-assured and, for new boss Kieran Scott, something even worse: 'She was an attractive woman; she could hardly deny it.' Neither can Scott. Strict and fundamentalist, he is the rector at St John's, Cambridge. Faster than you can say 'God', Scott and Abi are at each other's throats. At first, this is spiritual: Scott doesn't approve of her compassionate way with a sinner. She doesn't like him, full stop. 'If I stay I will probably kill him the next time he tries to touch me!' is a typical outburst. When Abi inherits an odd crystal from her mother, imparting the gift of second sight, all hell breaks loose. After Abi sees dead people in church, Scott calls her a witch and decides to get all medieval on her. Abi flees and communes Mora, a pagan Druidess who's been dead for almost 2,000 years. It is long, complex stuff, but holds the attention to the very end.