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A Woman of Substance (Harte Family Saga) Paperback – October 13, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 573 customer reviews
Book 1 of 7 in the Harte Family Saga Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An extravagant, absorbing novel of love, courage, ambition, war, death, and passion.” ―The New York Times

“A long, satisfying novel of money, power, passion, and revenge, set against the sweep of twentieth-century history.” ―Los Angeles 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...

A WOMAN'S AMBITION...
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.

A JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME...
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.

A DREAM FULFILLED-AND AVENGED.
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

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Harte Family Saga (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 944 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 13 Anv edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312588887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312588885
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (573 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is amazing how much time can change our perception of things. I first read this book many years ago and vaguely remember enjoying it. Twenty or thirty years later, after a second reading, I find it infuriating.

The author dragged out this story with unnecessary padding and description. I could handle that, just, but the omniscient narrator added to my ever increasing annoyance with the main character, Emma Harte. When the reader is able to see into every character's thoughts, and every person is thinking how absolutely wonderful this irritating, vindictive woman is, it begins to grate on the nerves.

Then there is the matter of Emma's dramatically fast switch from having a strong, fairly uneducated Yorkshire accent to suddenly not having one. Yes, she did learn from listening to her employers' refined voices, and from correction by her first love, but the sudden switch to having a completely passable genteel voice was just too much to believe.

At this stage in my life, Emma's behaviour pushed way too many buttons. By the end of the book, I just wanted it to be done. Apart from her over the top vendetta, she did the one thing as a parent I consider odious. She played favourites with her children and then with her grandchildren. As for the grandchildren, sneaky, suck ups for the most part, all too happy to verbally knife their aunts and uncles to win points with their grandmother.

I probably would give it 2 stars, and yet I have to take into account that this book was written a long time ago and attitudes have perhaps changed. My feelings toward It definitely have. So to be fair, I'll rate it right in the middle of the road. I had originally planned to read the whole series, but my aversion to the character, her granddaughter and the storytelling style in this has made me stop right here, at the end of Book 1.
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