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The Ravenscar Dynasty (Ravenscar Series) Hardcover – December 26, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The doyenne of popular women's fiction (Just Rewards) returns with the first installment of a projected trilogy centering on internecine power struggles within the early 20th century incarnation of the centuries-old Deravenel clan and their London-based family business. A suspicious hotel fire causes the death of patriarch Richard Deravenel along with that of one of his sons, his brother-in-law and his young nephew, forcing tall, handsome, bright, seductive, 17-year old Edward Deravenel out of Oxford into the world of commerce. He and cousin Neville Watkins (a successful businessman in his own right) plot to avenge their fathers' and brothers' deaths and seize the company, currently under the stewardship of a delusional absentee executive whose ambitious (and French) wife is behind the skullduggery. Edward's longtime friend, Will Hasling, also joins the fray, and Neville has his own motivations. Along the way, there are libidinous liaisons, wicked plots, personal catastrophes, a secret "love child" and lessons aplenty about the consequences of ruthless ambition. Expect strong, two-dimensional characters; tasteful and adroit sex; repetitive exchanges; a plot rich with period detail and reasonably backed-up friction. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Having concluded the long-running Harte saga in Just Rewards (2006), Bradford now introduces a new family, the Deravenels. Set at the beginning of the twentieth century, the novel opens with a tragedy: the death of 17-year-old Edward Deravenel's father and brother in a mysterious fire. Edward is the true heir to the family company, but for the past 60 years it has been controlled by another branch of the family, the Grants. Edward's cousin Neville also lost his father and brother in the fire, and the two make a pact to reclaim the firm. Because Henry Grant, the current head of the company, is barely sane, the true power resides with his conniving wife, Margot, and several board members. Edward leaves Oxford to work for the company, but life isn't all work for the handsome playboy as he begins a passionate affair. Edward's enemies are determined to keep him from seizing power, and he faces both a devastating loss and a stunning betrayal. Fans of the Harte saga will find themselves in familiar territory as, once again, Bradford depicts several branches of a large family warring over a successful company. But those sorry to see the former dynasty drama conclude will be happy to have a new saga to sink their teeth into. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Ravenscar Series
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312354606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312354602
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #347,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Barbara Taylor Bradford, OBE is one of the world's best loved storytellers. Her 1979 debut novel, A Woman of Substance, ranks as one of the top-ten bestselling books of all-time, with more than 30 million copies in print. All 25 of her novels to date have been major worldwide bestsellers. Her 26th book, Playing The Game, will be published on October 12th by St. Martin's Press.

Bradford was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire (UK) as the only child of Freda and Winston Taylor. She grew up in the Leeds suburb of Armley and after Town Street Church of England School worked in the typing pool at the Yorkshire Evening Post before going into journalism. By the age of twenty she was the fashion editor of Woman's Own Magazine and an editor and columnist on Fleet Street for the London Evening News.

Bradford's books have sold more than eighty-two (82) million copies worldwide in more than ninety (90) countries and forty (40) languages. Ten (10) of her books have been made into miniseries and television movies, making her one of the best-selling authors over the last 30 years.

In April of 2003, Mrs. Bradford was inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America alongside Mark Twain, Langston Hughes and Dr. Seuss. She was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list for her contributions to literature. Her original manuscripts are archived at the Brotherton Library at Leeds University, alongside the works of the Bronte sisters. In 2009, Barbara's publishers began a worldwide 30th anniversary celebration of A Woman of Substance. The first annual Woman of Substance Awards took place on September 10th 2009 at the Dorchester Hotel in London. She lives in New York City with her husband, of 43 years, television producer Robert Bradford.

Her official website is:

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Patricia A. Frechtman on January 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have read everybook that Ms Bradford has written and loved each of them. My first impression of this book was that she was told to write a book, fill it with as many people as she could, add graphic sex scenes and it would sell!

The names alone can drive you crazy, some times the hero is Edward and sometimes he is Ned. Every chapter adds 3-to 5 new people. Their are so many people on both sides of these families we needed a list in the front to keep track and then you add all the people working all over the world at this company!

I found my self at chapter 23 still trying to figure out who all these people are and going back to check their place in this story. Reading this is like watching cement harden. At this point, I do not care what happens to them.

I feel most sorry for Ms Bradford's husband Robert who she says has lived wih these characters for over 25 years!!!! I am sure he is relieved to turn them all over to us.

Try again, we fans will still be awaiting your usual wonderful novel
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Hokie Bookworm on December 8, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first book of Barbara Taylor Bradford's that I have read, and if I were not the type of person who feels compelled to finish every series I start, it would be the last.

The story line is pulled straight out of history, Edward Deravenel's rise to power mirrors that of King Edward V down to family crests, character names, and every relationship in the book. At times, Mr. Bradford seems so focused on mirroring history that she doesn't give a care to what her readers may want. Instead of an intricate and enjoyable family saga in which the reader feels he/she is a part of the family, we are subjected to many many stilted conversations between family members and important company directors.

Some character seem to serve no other purpose but to fulfill their place in the history books. Few characters go beyond the superficial to take on likable traits. Of course, with a cast of characters so large there is hardly time to delve into their personalities.

With the opening of a chapter, we discover that years have passed and main characters have been killed off, marraiges made, children born, and children died. We discover monumental secrets that change the course of the book in a casual sentence dropped in conversation. Secrets that were alluded to hundreds of pages before in only a meager paragraph. Secrets such as "I'm already married. I eloped years ago." or "I am the father of your adoptive daughter."

Unfortunately, for us, all of the juicy stuff is skipped over and the boring financial problems of the company are discussed in detail. My complaints with this book continue, but are too many to list. I can only assume from Ms. Bradford's popularity that the rest of her books are much better than this one. Here's to hoping the next is better!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on December 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In 1904, Richard Deravenel, his seventeen years old son Edmund, his brother Rick and his nephew Tom die in an inferno at a hotel in Carrarra, Italy. Another cousin Neville Watkins informs Richard's wife Cecily and their other offspring eighteen-year-old son Edward of the death of his relatives. Neville hides his suspicion from his Aunt Cecily, but tells his cousin Edward that he thinks they were murdered while looking into a business problem involving marble quarries. Edward and Neville forge a partnership to uncover the truth and also agree to take control of the Dervavenel business interests before vultures like their cousin Henry Grant, who they suspect is behind the tragedy, usurp control like his grandfather did six decades ago.

Over the next few years, Edward eventually marries widow Elizabeth Wyland but also keeps a mistress Jane Shaw. Elizabeth nags her spouse to take full control of the family business, but also turns irate when she thinks of Jane. However, as war on the continent seems imminent with England probably sucked in due to its alliances, a traitor from within the family taking advantage of a disaster jeopardizes the business.

For fans of the author and anyone who appreciates a pre WWI English family saga, THE RAVENSCAR DYNASTY is a fine historical tale. Though the tale spins into a soap opera at times due to Elizabeth's rants and rages, the key cast is fully developed especially the male rivals from the Yorkshire and Lancaster branches (though the former appears much more frequently) as they compete for control of the dynasty. Readers looking for early twentieth century dynastic epics will appreciate this fine entry though it contains no Harts.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
First, I am a huge fan of Ms Bradford's Harte Family series. Those characters are well thought out and developed, the scenes are set, and new characters are introduced slowly enough and with enough development that you care about them and their interaction with each other.

All that being said, this current book reads like an attempt to build on the same formula for the Harte series but much more condensed. The book throws in new characters at an alarming pace without their development. It is almost as if the author was stuck at a point (and there seem to be many) and said 'hmm how do I get out of this? I will introduce Bob and Bob will all of the sudden fix the issue.'

This is the first book in this series and the second is due this year as well. I just hope that the next one will be more thought out otherwise I guess I will just go back and reread the Harte series again.
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