In her first career, Lesley Hayes was a professional writer, and in her second, a psychotherapist. The result, upon her return to fiction writing, is an elegant style informed by insights into the human condition that most authors would be unable to tweeze out of the confusing lives that surround them.
At the core of A Field Beyond Time is the conflict between what we believe ourselves to be, and how much of that knowledge we are willing to share – especially with those we love. That, as well as the tension relating to how much of what we are we are willing to admit to ourselves.
Sometimes, of course, our lives teach us who we really are, whether we like it or not. And secrets we believe too awful to share may also escape from the dark places where we have hidden them.
Hayes finds more than enough material to explore these secret places during the space of perhaps a week’s time in the collision between the lives of a husband and wife, and a young American woman recently arrived in London following the death of her mother. the cast is completed by a few additional characters whose existence is necessary but whose inner lives are relevant only in supporting roles that facilitate the exploration of how each main character deals with the revelation and reconciliation of key events from his or her past.
Unlike many self-published authors, Hayes is not first and foremost a story-teller, so those looking for a fast paced book that will keep them on the edge of their seats will be disappointed. Instead, A Field Beyond Time is a thought-provoking work of literary fiction that is plot enabled rather than plot driven. The point isn’t whether someone will be saved before they fall off a physical cliff, but whether their marriage or their self-image can recover before falling into a spiritual abyss.
Despite the short time frame, there are extensive flashbacks into more turbulent times in the past, as well as plenty of motion and flow in the present, including scenes that are sexually intimate or emotionally fraught, all of which keep the story moving confidently with a natural flow. Perhaps most importantly, the examinations of the inner dramas unfolding is low-key and natural rather than clinical: we aren’t outside looking into the minds of the characters: we’re right in there with them.
The result is a smart, elegantly written examination of crisis and redemption that will engage and please those interested in thinking about what they are reading rather than simply consuming it. As every good book should, it left me hungry for more by the same author. I’m looking forward to reading the The Drowned Phoenician Sailor, Lesley Hayes’s second book.
A Field Beyond Time is available in eBook and paperback formats at Amazon in the UK here, and in the US here. You can find the author’s Amazon page, and short story collections, here and here. Her author’s blog is here.