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A Woman of Substance (Harte Family Saga Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Barbara Taylor Bradford
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (362 customer reviews)

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Book Description

One of the top ten bestselling novels ever written with more than 32 million copies sold!

This record-shattering New York Times bestseller was Barbara Taylor Bradford’s breakout novel. It tells the story of a determined woman who will face betrayal from those closest to her, as well as the loss of a great love, only to emerge triumphant.

From the servants’ quarters of a manor house on the brooding Yorkshire moors to the helm of a profitable international business, Emma Harte’s life is a sweeping saga of unbreakable spirit and resolve. Rising from abject poverty to glittering wealth at the upper echelons of society, there is only one man the indomitable Emma cannot have--and only one she yearns for. The novel was also the subject of a popular 1984 miniseries starring Jenny Seagrove and Deborah Kerr.


From crushing poverty to the height of wealth and success, Barbara Taylor Bradford’s The Emma Harte Saga begins with the groundbreaking international bestseller A Woman of Substance, tracing Emma Harte’s legacy through multiple generations of indomitable women.

Emma’s vision and drive have an indelible impact on her family and the men who dare to love her. Through the sequels Hold the Dream and To Be the Best, her granddaughter Paula must defend everything Emma built--not just from outside competitors, but also from internal threats. Told with deep emotion, humor, and compelling honesty, the strong heroines of this series continue to move and inspire readers decades after first publication.


Barbara Taylor Bradford is a #1 New York Times bestselling author. Born in Britain, she began her career as a typist at the Yorkshire Evening Post at the age of sixteen, later serving as the fashion editor of Woman’s Own Magazine and a feature writer at the London Evening News. Her debut novel, A Woman of Substance, sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and became one of the top ten bestselling novels ever written.

Bradford has written 28 subsequent books that have sold over 89 million copies in more than 90 countries around the world. Ten of her novels have been made into television miniseries and movies. In 1999, she became the first living female author to be featured on a postage stamp; in 2003, she was inducted into the Writers’ Hall of Fame of America, and in 2007, she was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to literature.

Editorial Reviews


'An extravagant, absorbing novel of love, courage, ambition, war, death and passion.' New York Times

From the Back Cover

A celebration of an indomitable spirit, here is New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford's dazzling saga of a woman who dared to dream-and to triumph against all odds...

In the brooding moors above a humble Yorkshire village stood Fairley Hall. There, Emma Harte, its oppressed but resourceful servant girl, acquired a shrewd determination. There, she honed her skills, discovered the meaning of treachery, learned to survive, to become a woman,
and vowed to make her mark on the world.

In the wake of tragedy she rose from poverty to magnificent wealth as the iron-willed force behind a thriving international enterprise. As one of the richest women in the world Emma Harte
has almost everything she fought so hard to achieve-save for the dream of love,
and for the passion of the one man she could never have.

Through two marriages, two devastating wars, and generations of secrets, Emma's unparalleled success has come with a price. As greed, envy, and revenge consume those closest to her, the brilliant matriarch now finds herself poised to outwit her enemies, and to face the
betrayals of the past with the same ingenious resolve that forged her empire.

"A long, satisfying novel of money, power, passion and revenge, set against the sweep of 20th century history."
--Los Angeles Times

"A wonderfully entertaining novel."
--Denver Post

Product Details

  • File Size: 1644 KB
  • Print Length: 836 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553265342
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (February 6, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,046 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Did I Wait So Long? January 5, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
For whatever the reason, A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, was one of those books which always eluded me. Trying to read it on three separate occasions I never got any further than 200 pages. But this year when my online a book list decided to read this, I was determined to persevere or as Emma Harte, the heroine of the book said at the end, "To endure" till I finished the last page. And finish it I did and found myself falling in love with not only the characters portrayed in this book but with the areas of England Ms. Bradford describes as well.

There are books we all read who give us characters we will never forget. Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind, Father Ralph and Meggie from The Thorn Birds, Ari Ben Canaan and Kitty from Exodus. And to this list I now add the name Emma Harte.

A Woman of Substance is a grand book told over close to six decades and also introduces us to the Yorkshire area of England as well as the cities of Leeds and London. And as if that wasn't enough we come to know dear friends of Emma's like Blackie and the Kallinski family as well as enemies and rivals from the Fairley family. We also come to know Emmas brothers Frank and Winston and her children and grandchildren.

Emma, through great business acumen and the will to succeed, rises from a maid in a wealthy home to own a multimillion dollar enterprise. She does this to reap revenge on her former employer and his son, two men who have little understanding of their actions and the consequences. As Emma becomes more and more successful she finds herself marrying several men but only one does she love with all her heart.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm a non-reader and couldn't put this book down. September 14, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I watch more TV than I read, but Barbara Taylor Bradford has changed my thinking. I specifically am searching for her books now, because "A Woman of Substance" really grabbed me.
I laughed and I cried and I was really shocked. When I got near the end of the book, I did not want the story to end.
I could really feel the friendships with Emma and Blackie. They were always there for eachother through everything. They're relationship moved me.
And the book was very inspiring for me as a woman. She didn't wimp out and kept fighting for what she wanted and what she earned.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'M A NEW FAN- January 19, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is my first book by BTB and won't be my last. I chose this strictly because I had seen three other books that related to this one, two which were part of the trilogy. I figured I would give it a try, as I love epics. I was definitely not disappointed. The characters were so vivid and real to me, I couldn't put the book down. At over 700 pages hardback, it is quite a read, but I have done it in less than a week. I absolutely couldn't get anything done until I found out what happened. I love the way she set it up- she got you hooked, then let you dangle for oh, 699 pages!!!
If you are a fan of Sara Donati's "Wilderness" books, you will definitely love this. I can't wait until tomorrow to get the sequel.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Finely Told Story by Bradford-Her Best Work! July 11, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The "Woman of Substance," and the other sequels following it are wonderful works! The story is based upon the poor Emma, who is a poverty-stricken child, living in rags, and yet comes out of it a wonderful young adult, working her way to empireship with her store business across the country. She works her fingers to the bone to achieve her goals, is a formidable woman, and always gets what she sets out to accomplish through her relentless perserverance. A worthwhile read, and VERY HARD to put it down once you get into the story!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cozy in for this door stopper January 7, 2005
By Annie
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A Woman of Substance is a book that I have wanted to read for many years but held off mainly because of the number of pages. With the help of a few reading friends, I was finally able to conquer this saga and am now happy that I did.

AWOS tell the story of Emma Harte. A young girl who came from poverty only to become one of the most powerful and richest woman in the world.

When Emma was just a child she worked for the Fairleys as a servant. The masters son, Edwin, and her became very close friends and eventually started a relationship that only led to trouble. Scorned and let down by Edwin, Emma ran off to find her fortune and vowed revenge of the Fairleys.

As we go through the years with Emma, we experience her love and loss but one thing always stayed true, her secret to life.

"You must endure."

Find yourself a nice comfortable place to read this great book and enjoy your time with Emma. You certainly will not regret it, or forget her.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A woman of very little substance December 15, 2011
By mbseuf
Emma Harte has incredible business acumen, but, for me, very little else. She was an immoral and unlikable character, and it was difficult to read 900 pages about a character whom I lack any compassion for. My first grievance about the novel is the inconsistency spread throughout the plot about basic facts. In the beginning, the author describes Emma as having about a 5 year age difference with her lifelong friend, Blackie. However, toward the end of the novel, they are only 3 years apart. In one chapter, Emma Harte is 29 years old, but about a year later (in the next chapter), she is only 28 years old. Secondly, Bradford creates likeable supporting characters throughout the novel, and then she suddenly turns them into repulsive beings whenever it is convenient for her to build Emma up or to get rid of them. For example, Emma's first husband was just a shy, orphaned landlord who was very generous and loving toward her. However, to build the reader's compassion for Emma, the author suddenly turned him into an inconsiderate dud in the sack, which was completely unnecessary. How can I sympathize with Emma when she married a man devoted to her, but whom she used and didn't love. The author reaches too far to justify Emma's actions by aiming to create an unlikeable character in the husband. Emma's first dalliance was with Edwin, who was at first a very loveable, gentile boy. Then, the author turns him into a sudden coward in order to make Emma appear battered and stronger. (I also found it irritating that the author included at least five men who were madly in love with Emma throughout the book - just a bit too extreme). Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive
Had downloaded on my Kindle. Drug it around with me & read every chance I got. Very entertaining. Liked it a lot.
Published 1 day ago by Laurie
5.0 out of 5 stars 2nd read better than the first!
I first read, A Woman of Substance, when I was in my early 20's and enjoyed it immensely. Now, more than 30 years later, I find that the book, did indeed, shape my life. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Deborah Tyler Blais
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read for awhile
Started off kind of slow but man did it take off. A wonderful journey of an extraordinary life. The pages were flying and I was totally absorbed. Read more
Published 17 days ago by C. PARSONS
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Seemed historically accurate so enjoy visiting that era
Published 19 days ago by david mcinnis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A timeless tale
Published 19 days ago by marlene Barrett
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. I was hooked right away and could not ...
Excellent. I was hooked right away and could not stop until I had read all the books
Published 23 days ago by Catherine G Tatum
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding.
Barbara Taylor Bradford has done an outstanding job with A Woman of Substance. It spans several generations and two world wars. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Janet Vice
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 26 days ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books of all time
One of my favorite books of all time. An adventure with Emma from extreme poverty to unbelievable riches and her heartbreak on the way.
Published 28 days ago by DIanne Kanode
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this book---Held my attention She was quite a...
I thoroughly enjoyed this book---Held my attention
She was quite a remarkable woman and could give hope to many, as to what one can do with
a lot of effort
Published 29 days ago by Grace Welter
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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:

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