Book Talk with R & T: R's Review of The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

Hopefully everyone is excited as Tamara and I are about our latest installment of "Book Talk with R & T" !!  As we told y'all yesterday, all week we will be highlighting "The Fortune Hunter" by Daisy Goodwin. Today we are celebrating the book's US release and I'm posting my review. Later this week we will be chatting about the covers, movie cast, and anything else that strikes our fancy. Have you read "The Fortune Hunter" yet? We want to chat with you! 

Title: The Fortune Hunter
Author: Daisy Goodwin
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
ISBN: 9781250043894
Number of Pages: 480
How I Got It: Staci Burt / St. Martin's Press Publicity
Format: Paperback
Publisher's Description: THE FORTUNE HUNTER (St. Martin’s Press; July 29, 2014) is a brilliant, new novel that explores the irresistibility of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures. Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as "Sisi," is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.
Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that threatens the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and all of their futures.

My Review: 
To be honest, I had a tough time with the first 60 or so pages. There are a lot of character introductions and everyone seems to be called by multiple names and titles. Once I got in rhythm with the writing, I was fully submerged. At the center of the book is a love triangle between Charlotte (heir to the Lennox fortune,) Elizabeth / Sisi (the Austrian Empress,) and Bay (a horseman.) Charlotte is a self-assured young heiress. Her interest in photography rather than parties and social events clashes with the expectations of family members. Sisi travels in order to hide from her husband and the public. The aging beauty sets her sights on (and opens her purse to) Bay. Bay wants to marry Charlotte, but the interests of the Empress draw him away from his love.
This novel has everything I'm looking for in historical fiction. A time in history that would have otherwise been uninteresting to me (because most of my high school and college history classes focused on men and politics rather than all people and their daily lives) came to life in this book. The European locations, the balls, the rules of royalty,  the horse riding, the newness of photography and cross country railways, the vast frontier of America, everything is presented in a crisp, exciting way.
Not often is the secondary cast of characters as interesting as the main characters, but Daisy Goodwin wraps you up with social climbers, flamboyant Americans, spurned suitors, and the whole range of household servants.
Out of the secondary storylines my favorite is the relationship between Charlotte and her soon-to-be sister-in-law Augusta. These two women are very close in age with similar upbringings but their personalities and demeanors are so opposite of each other. Their quips and snide remarks back and forth had me laughing and I loved every time Charlotte got Augusta worked up about something.

About the Author: 
DAISY GOODWIN is the author of The American Heiress. She is a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University’s film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University and is a leading television producer in the U.K. Her poetry anthologies have introduced many new readers to the pleasures of poetry, and she was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. She and her husband, an ABC TV executive, have two daughters and live in London.

Be sure to check out Daisy's WebsiteFacebook, and Twitter

No comments