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The Fortune Hunter
Mingling historical fact with imaginative fiction, Goodwin writes with...
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What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

Created: 05/07/15

Replies: 21

Posted May. 07, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

The Author's Note says: "This novel is based on fact: The cast of characters, Sisi, Bay, Charlotte, Earl Spencer, and even Chicken Hartopp are all real, even if their thoughts and feelings have been supplied by me." What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel? (One fascinating footnote: In real life, Lady Blanche Hozier's daughter Clementine, whose paternity has been much debated, grew up to marry Winston Churchill.)


Posted May. 17, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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patriciag

Join Date: 07/11/14

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I think that for me the historical background provided made the story much more interesting; not only are the characters based on real people, but obviously the author has spent a great deal of time making the historical references true, and I admire that attention to detail. I enjoyed the specific details of dress, protocol, hunting, architecture, and photography which form the backdrop for the action of the novel. The characters are allowed to "breathe" within their own realistic milieu. As soon as I read "Spencer," I knew that some (if not all) of the story was based on historical fact. Spencer is a name which is definitely associated with Diana.


patricia gurnak
Posted May. 17, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I always enjoy historical fiction that has a base in actual history. It makes historical figures real in a way the history book never did and creates a view of periods and places that are familiar by name but without any real mental picture. I can not recall exactly when I became convinced that this was somewhat fact based but it was fairly early in the book when something was mentioned that I knew was historically true.


Posted May. 18, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cynthiaa

Join Date: 04/14/11

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres. I knew from the beginning that this book is a mix of history and fiction. That is why I was so happy to receive it and read it. I like this time in history too. And I like to read about England at this time in history. So needless to say, my opinion of this book was good right from the beginning. Thanks for sending it to me!


Posted May. 19, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elise

Join Date: 04/22/11

Posts: 30

RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I also love historical fiction and chose the book because of it was based on real people. Most historical fiction I have read has followed the actual course of events and tried to be as true as possible to the characters. This story did not follow the actual course of events at all and it is not known if Charlotte ever owned a camera. While I understand it is fiction, this detracted from the story for me.


Posted May. 19, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kathrynk

Join Date: 05/21/11

Posts: 40

RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

Like the rest of you I too really enjoy historical fiction. I read the author's notes so was aware that the story's main characters were real people. As I read, I kept reminding myself of that fact. I remembered the quote: sometimes truth is stranger than fiction! Though I am in awe of authors who fill in conversation and story land still be inline with facts made even better with fiction.. I too did wonder about Charlottes involvement with photography. I felt it really fit in with the Empress' strong feelings about not wanting photos taken of her. I think it increased my dislike of Empress. I really enjoyed the book from the very start to the end - for me it was a real page turner!


Posted May. 19, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorothyl

Join Date: 04/15/12

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

i like the blend of actual historical figures and fictional characters. I knew from the opening line, "Was Queen Victoria a kitten or codfish?" that there would be historical figures in this book. The opening line also piqued my interest. I am very much interested in this period of time because in 1889 my grandmother was born and she actually saw Emperor Franz Joseph pass through her town as a four year old and always remembered it. She told me this story when I was very young so I felt personally interested from the beginning.


Posted May. 20, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeannew

Join Date: 04/23/11

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

Another historical fiction fan here! While I knew that Empress Elizabeth was real and that Earl Spencer was real I didn't know about the rest of the characters and it surprised me. I think there's a great mixture of fact and fiction here and it doesn't bother me at all. The only disappointing thing is learning the real fates of Bay and Charlotte. It's pretty obvious theirs wouldn't have been a really happy marriage.


Posted May. 21, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
aleksandrae

Join Date: 02/25/14

Posts: 40

RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I also knew that Sisi was a real historical figure. She is quite famous for European history buffs. Her own story and that of her children is a fascinating one full of incredible highs and lows. But I was completely surprised to learn that Bay and Charlotte actually existed and that Sisi had a long standing affair with a commoner. I was also shocked that Queen Victoria also carried on a long standing affair later in life with her butler. I found that a lot of the general story idea was real when I searched Empress Elizabeth and read about her historical background online. This discovery made a novel that was already really interesting even more so! Historical fiction is really a great genre because you get to learn a little and have some fun in the process. No better combo than that in a novel!


Posted May. 21, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lindah

Join Date: 04/17/14

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I knew from the beginning that "The Fortune Hunter" was historical fiction that included several real people which heightened my interest. I had read about Queen Victoria's relationship with Mr. Brown and knew the Empress from her assassination and as mother of Rudolph. (I saw the film "Mayerling" a few years after it debuted.) I was unfamiliar with Bay Middleton and found the idea that he could have been Clementine Hozier Churchill's real father intriguing. Instead of the genealogical "milkman" factor, it could have been a dashing cavalryman whose DNA courses through the Churchill line. I love well researched historical fiction when written by some as adept as Daisy Goodwin, it brings history to vivid life. It was a very entertaining, quick read that has me doing more reading about the individuals involved. Excellent choice!


Posted May. 21, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I actually didn't realize the book was based on historical figures until about halfway through the book, when I started to wonder about the characters - they seemed too specific to be entirely fictional - so I hit Wikipedia. Once I knew that it added to my enjoyment of the story.


Posted May. 22, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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patriciag

Join Date: 07/11/14

Posts: 10

RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I agree with most of the responses which underline that well-written historical fiction really enhances the storyline because the reader gets an insight into character which can be compared/developed with historical fact. Well-researched historical fiction, however, I think is or can be very difficult because the writer must not only develop believable/historically correct characters but must also thoroughly place the characters in believable/historically correct setting. I think Goodwin did an excellent job inviting us into Victorian England.


patricia gurnak
Posted May. 23, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
terrio

Join Date: 08/16/11

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I knew that the main characters were based on historical figures. I was disappointed to learn, however, that nothing is really known about Charlotte Baird and that her character, other than her name and the fact that she married Bay Middleton, was entirely a product of the author's imagination. I was fascinated to learn that Bay Middleton may have been the father of Clementine Hozier Churchill and also that he is a very distant relative of Kate Middleton.


Posted May. 24, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alices

Join Date: 06/15/13

Posts: 11

RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I did not recognize the book as historical fiction until I read the Author's Note, at the end of the book. I like historical fiction, or a good fiction. To me there was little difference in this book. I knew nothing of history regarding Bay or Sisi, Victoria was Queen in that time frame, but had a small role in the book. Otherwise, why is it callrd Historical Fiction, some facts should be present.

Alices


Posted May. 24, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
adelias

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 2

RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I really liked this book and will suggest it for my book club. Although it was a novel, the mixture of history and fiction gave insights of the aristocracy and their rules and etiquette. Charlotte was not afraid of pushing those rules and etiquette.


Posted May. 24, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jenniferf

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 3

RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

It was clear to me from the first few chapters that the book was a work of historical fiction, one of my favorite genres. Although it can be difficult to create dialogue, the details of habits and fashion, such as the hunting ritual were fascinating. It gave me additional perpective on the upper class of English society and the position of women at that time.


Posted May. 25, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

All Historical fiction has basis in fact and fiction. I didn't know who was real until the end of the book but it wouldn't have changed my opinion. For me, the best historical fiction stays true to history and adds enough fiction to make a good story


Posted May. 25, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
juliep

Join Date: 04/07/12

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I ended up looking online for more info about Sisi, something I do increasingly whenever I read historical fiction. Have learned a lot this way!


Posted May. 31, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carolea

Join Date: 10/06/12

Posts: 12

RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I did recognize it was a work of historical fiction; however, not as detailed as many works I have enjoyed more. I did do further research on the characters and wish the characters or background would have been fleshed out further to make for a richer book. Felt a little skimpy - spoiled I guess.


Posted Jun. 02, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pamelah

Join Date: 05/19/11

Posts: 19

RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I think that history and fiction mingle quite easily here. I was not aware the characters were real persons from history, but became "suspicious" when I read the names, Clementine, and Earl Spencer. Then I searched the back of the book, and my "suspicions" were confirmed when I read the "Author's Notes".


Posted Jun. 03, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pamelaf

Join Date: 10/13/11

Posts: 9

RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I knew before reading it that it was based on historical figures. I didn't know about Clementine Churchill prior to reading this. And I would every so often put down the book and read up on these people. I love any book that makes me want to dig into the subject matter more. I love books that teach me something about the time and the people of that era.


Posted Jun. 04, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
andreab

Join Date: 07/29/14

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RE: What do you think of the mixture of history and fiction here? At what point did you become aware that the characters were based on real-life individuals, and did it change your opinion of the novel?

I have long been a fan of "faction". For me, the premise is more compelling because it (loosely) happened. I am intrigued by how people move through their lives and knowing that the storyline is not completely invented adds another layer of interest, as long as it's done well, as it is by Ms. Goodwin.


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