A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford
On the library stacks: Adult Fiction
Series: 1 of 7 (Emma Harte Saga)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Emma Harte is a young girl who lives in a Yorkshire village with her family. Her dad and brothers work at the local mill and Emma works at the Fairley Hall estate nearby. Emma hopes that one day through her own hard work and intuition, she will lift herself and her family out of poverty. When she is cruelly treated by the Fairley family, her resolution turns into a deep-seeded desire for revenge. Emma eventually makes it to Leeds where she begins to amass her fortune by a series of shrewd business deals and relationships.
This book is a chunkster. While some of the language was way too flowery and overly descriptive, I wouldn't have read 900 pages if I wasn't enjoying it. The book spans over 60 years of Emma's life and her character is very well developed. I really liked that this book was set in the same location and during the same time period as Downton Abbey.
Even though BTB wrote this book in the 1979, it didn't feel overly dated. While historical events certainly play a role in this novel, I could almost imagine a similar book being written in modern times. In fact, BTB penned the 7th book in this series just 3 years ago. I probably won't read anymore in the series, but I really enjoyed my time with this one and it works well as a stand-alone novel.
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