Kathleen R. (Ogdensburg, NY)
Having seen the Winterhalter portrait of Sisi, as the Empress of Austria and Hungary, it is impossible to ever forget her. Daisy Goodwin has captured the glamour and mystery of the woman and brought us her story during her first year fox hunting with the aristocracy in England. Bay Middleton served as her pilot, guiding her on the hunts and their relationship naturally became the subject of speculation. Goodwin has fleshed out that story in an historical novel that rings true in every way. The heiress Charlotte Baird did become Middleton's wife, but during this first season she formed a fascinating triangle with the married Empress. Each woman obviously attracted Middleton as he hunted for recognition and wealth. Charlotte hunted for meaning in her life and Sisi hunted for happiness. It was interesting to watch the author explore what the women must have thought of one another, what jealousy they must have felt and what hope they had for the future. Knowing how it all would end did not detract from the interest I felt in watching the characters work out their fates. One of the most famous women of the nineteenth century certainly made a marvelous heroine upon which to build this novel. If this is your first chance to meet Sisi or you are seeking more knowledge of her, this novel will more than satisfy you.
Amy G. (Bowie, MD)
Royalty, Etiquette, Society & Hunting
What more could you ask for? 'The Fortune Hunter' has it all. A sumptuous blend of all this British during the late 19th century, this book does not fail in its ability to weave the intricacies of royalty with the lives of British aristocrats.
The Empress of Austria is not to be trifled with. She has traveled to Britain, with her extensive entourage, to enjoy hunting season. When she falls in love with a "commoner," among the British hunting elite, her actions (and his) are deemed scandalous! The fact that the Empress is married and Captain Middleton is all but engaged makes the situation more shocking.
Enter Charlotte Baird, the heiress to the Lennox fortune. She is romantically linked to Captain Middleton, and her naivete about love and relationships is revealed when she mistakenly believes that the Captain is in pursuit of her heart, and not her fortune. Her devotion to the new art of photographer is a refreshing diversion for the reader, as the intrigue regarding the Empress and her Lothario swirl around as the center of the story.
If you are looking for is a rollicking ride through the countryside of Britain, replete with colorful characters, brilliant scenery and dubious shenanigans, The Fortune Hunter will not disappoint.
Shirley D. (Amherst, MA)
THE FORTUNE HUNTER by Daisy Goodwin
Daisy Goodwin serves up a slice of history presented by characters so alive they can neither be overlooked nor forgotten. The mind-set of the 19th century, its customs and levels of society, the clothing, food, manner of speech, vocabulary are so skillfully combined, the 21st century can seamlessly slip away and the reader falls easily into that earlier age where royalty and its observations flourish, where behavior and occupation are often by royal commend and personal desires are conflicted. It is hard to avoid empathy for Elizabeth, the Empress and Captain Middleton, a suspected fortune hunter, assigned to her for her safety, as each struggles with the sacrifices that must be made.
Anna R. (Oak Ridge, TN)
When I started the book I found it hard to put it down. The characters were well drawn, so much so I could "see" them. To find out that many of the characters were real people sent me to the Internet to Google them.This book is a page turner and I enjoyed it very much. It does show that money cannot buy happiness.
The ending was just right.
Sheila S. (Supply, NC)
The Fortune Hunter
I enjoyed this book immensely. It is a great example of well-researched historical fiction. I found all of the characters to be compelling, from the Empress Elizabeth seeking respite from the stifling royal protocols of Vienna to Chicken Hartopp who is desperately trying to find a rich wife. Charlotte is an unassuming heiress with a hapless brother and arrogant sister-in-law. Bay Middleton is alternately the hero or the goat, and Caspar provides comic relief and a fresh view point.
I particularly liked he chapter where the Empress and Queen Victoria meet at Windsor Castle and exchange verbal jabs. The description of Sisi's beauty regimen gives an interesting look at the lengths a woman will go to retain her legendary beauty. I also enjoyed the account of the day at the Grand National. I will definitely recommend this most entertaining book to my book club.
Sherilyn R. (Bountiful, UT)
Fun and entertaining
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I especially loved the characters. Both primary & secondary characters were well drawn out and I found I was sympathetic to all of them including characters called Chicken and Caspar. The Empress Sisi, Bay Middleton, his horse Tipsy and the Grand National Horse Race were all immediately googled. I just wanted to know more about them.
This book was really fun without being silly, The line between fact and fiction made for a fun and entertaining read.
Kathy S. (Danbury, CT)
What a wonderful book! I was completely engrossed from the first page and found the characters likable and engaging. I am always struck anew at how class ruled (and continues to rule) in other countries, with those of lesser prospects drawn into situations and relationships based on the inequality of position. Sometimes, the only way to extricate oneself from such a situation is to begin anew elsewhere. The ending of the book felt rushed, as though the author decided to quickly tie up all of the loose ends and be done already. Still, all in all, a good read.