The legendary Emma Harte, heroine of A Woman of Substance, returns in Emma's Secret, a novel that showcases the storytelling power of Barbara Taylor Bradford.
Paula O'Neill, beloved granddaughter of Emma Harte and the guardian of her vast business empire, believes that everything Emma left to the family is secure. However, beneath the surface, sibling rivalry and discontent flare. Linnet and Tessa, her daughters, are as different as two women can be. One of them wants desperately for the empire to be hers but has a devastating secret that may put her very life in danger.
Into this volatile mix walks Evan Hughes, a young American fashion designer who is looking for Emma Harte. But Emma has been dead for thirty years. And Evan bears an uncanny resemblance to Paula O'Neill. Troubled by Evan's presence, Paula turns to her grandmother's recently discovered wartime diaries to find the truth, and Emma comes vividly back to life.
The decades fall away. It is London in 1940: the Blitz. Emma, working hard under war-time conditions, is also holding her family together as bombs drop, sirens wail, and her sons go off to war. While she struggles with grief, her indomitability, willpower, and strength come to the fore. As the pages unfurl, Paula discovers the secret Emma took to the grave to protect others, a secret whose repercussions inevitably change lives and may shake a dynasty to its very foundations.
Emma's Secret is vintage Barbara Taylor Bradford. Emotion, drama, suspense, intrigue, and passion fill the pages in a spellbinding novel that only she could write.
It has been nearly 25 years since Bradford made her name with the female rags-to-riches saga A Woman of Substance, the first in a trilogy of novels that concluded with 1988's To Be the Best. Gambling that there is still life to be squeezed out of the story of indomitable super-survivor Emma Harte and her descendants, Bradford returns to the chase with this present-day sequel. The novel opens in 2001 at Pennistone Royal, Emma's magnificent country estate in Yorkshire, now occupied by her granddaughter Paula's family. Paula heads the Knightsbridge store, flagship of the nationwide Harte chain, and her grown daughters, Linnet and Tessa, work there. A young American, Evan Hughes, with an uncanny Harte family resemblance, appears one day seeking a job. She's hired at once, since Linnet needs help with an upcoming fashion spectacular, a retrospective featuring Emma's couture wardrobe. Linnet's cousin Gideon, who works for the Harte newspapers, is smitten with Evan, and soon the mystery of her background is of concern, especially when it's discovered that Evan's grandmother had a close relationship with Emma. The overwhelming amount of descriptive detail clothing, interior decor, food and drink slows down the narrative, but such Victorian props as a decorative locked box, a key taped behind a photograph and long-lost diaries provide mild suspense. The saga was already losing steam with To Be the Best, and this fourth installment is further diluted. Lacking the dynamic impact of the original, it will be best appreciated by those with an irresistible desire to follow the further adventures of the Harte clan.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Long-winded, effusive, and tediously materialistic
Every character was more beautiful than the next, and there were too many of them to keep straight. They were all too glamorous, too sincere, too industrious, too congenial, too perfect to be either interesting or amusing. Pages and pages read like an inventory of a showroom on Let's Make A Deal: full of glitz and sparkley bits but yearning for substance A big, long, yawn, and a lesson for me: no more greedy shopping lists from Bradford.