A Woman of Substance

Written by: Barbara Taylor Bradford

A Woman of Substance Book 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.
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A Woman of Substance Reviews

Kathryn Yaste
I didn't finish this book. I gave it about 150 pages,and it showed no signs of getting any better. If anything, the writing got more redundant and florid. Everything is over described, the characters are flat, and they seem to just randomly feel and think things that are completely unconnected from the plot, such as it is. Dorothy Parker once said about a book that it should not be put aside lightly, rather, thrown with great force. Amen.
Meredith
Barbara seems to have gone to the school of "never use one word when ten will do"
lia
Emma Harte is the owner of retail empire and one of the richest woman in the world.

Rising from a humble beginning as a servant in rural Yorkshire, Emma's fate change when he falls in love with the son of the manor and fell pregnant and the said son (named Edwin) refused to take responsibility.

What starts as owning one shop as a mean of survival, soon develop into two, three and in few years expanding into an empire.

Though her business expanded beyond her wildest dream, her personal life is in Emma Harte is the owner of retail empire and one of the richest woman in the world.

Rising from a humble beginning as a servant in rural Yorkshire, Emma's fate change when he falls in love with the son of the manor and fell pregnant and the said son (named Edwin) refused to take responsibility.

What starts as owning one shop as a mean of survival, soon develop into two, three and in few years expanding into an empire.

Though her business expanded beyond her wildest dream, her personal life is in the other end of the spectrum. She married three times, having children and grand children that keep bickering and waiting for her to die for her inheritance.
Baby Island :: The Hidden Persuaders :: Five Little Peppers Abroad :: Bergdorf Blondes :: Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow
Tracy
This was an interesting story but too slow for me. I am going to set it aside for now....
Dawn Livingston
I tried to read this because it seemed like something I might like but I didn't like the style of writing, it just didn't appeal and then I realized the book was originally written in 1958. I think the book is a little dated though the plot isn't. Honestly, I didn't read that far into the book before I made my decision but then... so many book, so little time. On to the next one.
Sharon Mackenzie
The time it took me to read this was epic and by the end I didn't care what happened. This was a reread of an old favourite. Won't be reading it a third time. :/
Everydayreader1
A five star rating cannot even begin to express the quality and beauty of, "A Woman of Substance", the first book in the Emma Harte Series. It is simply superb.

Emma Harte is a young woman determined to become a woman of substance. She conquers poverty, unwed motherhood and lack of formal education to become one of the wealthiest women in the world. Though she is a fictional character, she comes to life in an unforgettable way through the words of the extraordinarily gifted Barbara Taylor Bradfor A five star rating cannot even begin to express the quality and beauty of, "A Woman of Substance", the first book in the Emma Harte Series. It is simply superb.

Emma Harte is a young woman determined to become a woman of substance. She conquers poverty, unwed motherhood and lack of formal education to become one of the wealthiest women in the world. Though she is a fictional character, she comes to life in an unforgettable way through the words of the extraordinarily gifted Barbara Taylor Bradford.

I first read this book shortly after its publication in 1979, and I have reread it several time since then. It, and the other six books in the Emma Harte Series are special to me as well, not only because of their content, but because they remind me of how much my mom loved them. So, it is like coming home and spending time with Mom once again.

I recommend this book, and the others in the Series, to anyone who likes to read family sagas and/or books featuring strong and capable women.
Blair
Finally finished reading this brick of a book today... I was starting to think I never would because it's unwieldy and very long (even for a lifelong reader like me).

I appreciate Barbara's description abilities but at the same time the descriptions got to be quite annoying because you can only read so many interior exolanations before you think "This is where she's using her words? Goddamn".

Another issue I had with this book is that its timing/spacing were a bit inconsistent (if that's the righ Finally finished reading this brick of a book today... I was starting to think I never would because it's unwieldy and very long (even for a lifelong reader like me).

I appreciate Barbara's description abilities but at the same time the descriptions got to be quite annoying because you can only read so many interior exolanations before you think "This is where she's using her words? Goddamn".

Another issue I had with this book is that its timing/spacing were a bit inconsistent (if that's the right word to use). What I mean by that is how there was a lot of time spent on particular events, and then out of nowhere it jumps a few years into the future and all of a sudden Emma's remarried to someone we barely know a thing about (just to pick one example). Thia got on my nerves a fair bit of the time.

And another thing that's coming to mind is some parts of it coming off as being quite sexist/homophobic/rape-y. It's partly possible that it could just be how I'm interpreting it, and I am aware that it was written in a different time and set even earlier, but it nagged at me all the same.

Plus Emma just seems like a reeking Mary Sue. we get it - she's ballsy, dnduring, intelligent, stoic, beautiful, etc... A little too perfect at times, though admittedly not entirely flawless, but it's still worth mentioning.

I will say that I'm glad I read this book, as it's undoubtedly very different to a lot of the books I normally read, and it had plenty of good/interesting/fun moments - but it's not my favourite. I am intrigued to read the rest of the books in the Emma Harte series but may not do so straight away as I've got a lot of other books that have been waiting quite patiently for me to attend to them. :P
Goldenwattle
This book has sold many copies, so obviously there are a lot of people who enjoy reading it, but it wasn't my kind of read. I found the writing could have been better; the point of view switched between characters frequently, making for a jarring read. Nearly everyone was beautiful/good looking. (The most evil character of 'course' wasn't.) How did we know? We were told they were "beautiful". We were told lots of things, rather than be shown. This book was a good example why being told is not th This book has sold many copies, so obviously there are a lot of people who enjoy reading it, but it wasn't my kind of read. I found the writing could have been better; the point of view switched between characters frequently, making for a jarring read. Nearly everyone was beautiful/good looking. (The most evil character of 'course' wasn't.) How did we know? We were told they were "beautiful". We were told lots of things, rather than be shown. This book was a good example why being told is not the way to go. It was too light a read also, concentrating mostly on personal interaction. Emma rises from poverty to become one of the richest people in the world and although there was some story about how she achieved this, mostly it was a story about her family, lovers etc. I would rather have had more of her business dealings.
I didn't think I would finish this book, and I wouldn't if I hadn't skipped much of the tedious excessive description in the first half of the book. (It also helped that I had almost nothing else in the house to read.) It was only half way through the book I began to enjoy the story enough to finish it. My rating for this book then rose from one to two out of five.
Gina
I can't do it. I just can't muddle through all 9,000 pages of this book. From what I've read it's a great story, but I can't subject myself to the terrible writing long enough to determine that for myself. This writer apparently never met an adjective she didn't like, and she is so desperate for her adjective friends not to get lonely that she groups them together into ridiculously long strings. Even in the few pages I did read, I ended up skimming to get past lengthy paragraphs of description o I can't do it. I just can't muddle through all 9,000 pages of this book. From what I've read it's a great story, but I can't subject myself to the terrible writing long enough to determine that for myself. This writer apparently never met an adjective she didn't like, and she is so desperate for her adjective friends not to get lonely that she groups them together into ridiculously long strings. Even in the few pages I did read, I ended up skimming to get past lengthy paragraphs of description of things I couldn't bring myself to care about. Not only that, but I can't stand writers who do this:

"How are you, Fred?"

"I'm fine, Barney."

"Good to hear, Fred."

"You look like you're doing well too, Barney."

"Thanks, Fred."

"You're welcome, Barney."

NO ONE talks this way. Observe your own discussions with other people, do you use their names that frequently? Or at all? Argh, this is a serious pet peeve of mine and it drove me absolutely insane. I had to put this one aside.
Suzanne LaVenture
The Kindle lending library says this is one of the top 10 selling books of all-time and that it "holds up." Yeah, no. I could not get through it. I might have enjoyed it in 1979 when I was 15, but it was dull as dirt to me now. I recently re-read "The Thorn Birds" and was so sorry I did. I had such good memories of it, spoiled by reading it again. If you haven't changed since the 70s, by all means, read this book. Ugh. I hate giving up on books, but sometimes there's just no help for it.
Zerda
This is one of my favorites of all time. Barbara Taylor Bradford puts you inside the story. You know these characters and feel yourself on the grounds of the estate, on the shop-lined streets of downtown. You see the brooding good looks of Blackie and feel young Emma's anguish. I wont give anymore away.....it is a must read!

p.s. I cannot give a date that I finished this book as I have reread it many times. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Jean
My favorite book of all time. I read this book many years ago and it brought much inspiration to my life. I finally found a copy of it in the bookstore the other day an bought it immediately. I plan to read it again once I finish my current book. I would like to see if I get the same inspiration from it and maybe come away with a different perspective.
Samantha
Very long saga but I did enjoy it! Another engaging read that kept me engrossed in a strong female character! Lengthy but since I'm a fast reader it was kind of nice to stretch something out over more then a week.
Carol
I figured it was about time I read this, and even though it isn't hot right now I can see why it was a best seller 35 years ago. It kept my interest throughout and I really enjoyed it. She showed what a woman can do with the right ambition, motivation, and fortitude. Very inspiring.
Marian
The novel is a classic rags to riches tale that follows a young English girl through the 20th century as she builds a great business empire. Bradford's vocabulary is detailed and expressive, and this sweeping saga will draw you in quickly. This is the first book in a series.
Barbara Liberman
One of my favorite books! A compelling family saga
Tanmayi
I enjoyed reading this book immensely. It reminded me of sidney sheldon's 'master of the game' which remains one of my favourite books from sheldon.
Wanda
I read this several years back, but it is a story you don't forget....probably my favorite of Barbara Taylor Bradford's books. Just superb!
Lance
Emma Harte works as a kitchen helper for the Fairley family. Her mother, Elizabeth, is bedridden and dying and her father, Jack, and brothers, Winston and Frank, work at the Fairley mill until Winston joins the Royal Navy. When the housekeeper falls ill, Emma starts waiting on the Fairley family and gains the confidence of Adele Fairley, who is going crazy. Adele’s sister, Olivia Wainright, moves into the home to become the mistress in the place of the ailing Adele. Emma soon shows initiative by Emma Harte works as a kitchen helper for the Fairley family. Her mother, Elizabeth, is bedridden and dying and her father, Jack, and brothers, Winston and Frank, work at the Fairley mill until Winston joins the Royal Navy. When the housekeeper falls ill, Emma starts waiting on the Fairley family and gains the confidence of Adele Fairley, who is going crazy. Adele’s sister, Olivia Wainright, moves into the home to become the mistress in the place of the ailing Adele. Emma soon shows initiative by becoming the head housekeeper.
Emma and the youngest Fairley son, Edwin, travel the moors together. In a cave, they discover a stone with a painted likeness of Olivia Wainwright, who also looks like Elizabeth Harte. Emma becomes pregnant with Edwin’s child and leaves her family and the Fairley mansion after Edwin rejects her. Adele Fairley dies and Adam Fairley soon marries Olivia. She travels to Leeds to look up the occasional Fairley handyman, Blackie O’Neill. Emma befriends a Jewish tailor, Abraham Kallinski, and begins working for him.
Emma, driven by her hatred and desire for revenge against the Fairley’s, works hard to make something of herself. For the birth of her child, she lives with Blackie’s friend, Laura, in Armley and invents the story that the father, Winston, is off in the Navy. She leaves her child, Edwina, in the care of her cousin and soon she is operating several stores in Leeds. She begins by selling homemade goods and soon has the business of all the maids in the area, learning what they desire and what their masters tastes are. She goes into business with David Kallinski developing a woman’s clothing line.
When Gerald Fairley, the oldest child, recognizes her, he tries to rape her. Emma, wanting to feel more secure, marries her banker, Joe Lowther. They have a child, Christopher (Kit). When WWI begins, Emma’s factories manufacture the uniforms, bringing in much profit. Blackie, Frank, and Joe enlist and Joe is killed in the war. Emma opens a large store in Leeds that is the first of its kind – with a café for social gathering, foodstuffs, clothing, doormen, valet service, samples and gift wrapping.
Joe had inherited many buildings and much land, which Emma took over for her business. She learns of the deaths of Adam and Olivia Wainright, then begins buying up Fairley stock. When she takes over all the Fairley mills as well as the Fairley estate, she shows herself to Gerald, who becomes furious and disgraced. She has the house destroyed.
At the start of WWII, Laura dies giving birth to a baby boy, Bryan Shane Patrick O’Neill. Emma meets and has a love affair with Paul McGill, an Australian sheep farmer. He tells her that he wants to marry her, but he’s married to a woman in Australia. He leaves, determined to obtain a divorce and return to Emma. David Kallinski wants to get a divorce and marry Emma, but she refuses to allow it.
Emma marries her banker, Arthur Ainsley. Though he has many affairs, with both sexes, he finds himself important with Emma. Despite that, they have twins – Robin and Elizabeth. Paul returns and explains to Emma that he found his wife, Constance, an alcoholic and placed her in an institution. They have a child, Howard, who is retarded and needs constant care. Though both married, Emma and Paul live as a couple. When she is pregnant, she refuses to let Arthur divorce her, determined that her child will not be illegitimate – especially after Edwina ostracized her when learning of her own illegitimacy. When Paul goes back to Australia for business, he is in a car accident and paralyzed. He takes his own life leaving his company, estate and all his holdings to Emma and their daughter Daisy.
Emma finally reveals to Edwina her true parentage. She learns that Adam Fairley was in love with her mother and the stone with the painting was of her mother, not of Olivia Wainwright. After Emma learns that her four oldest children are conspiring against her, she cuts them out of her will and leaves everything to her grandchildren. She also gives her blessing to Tony Fairley to marry Paula, her granddaughter by Daisy.
Jemma
Another in my series of catching up with books I meant to read but didn't. I recall loving the mini-series, finding it inspiring. The book and possibly age, have given me a slightly different view. Emma as self-made woman and a successful revenger, with good cause, are still there. Sadly though the Emma in these pages also makes most of her wealth through inheritance/alimony from four rich men, which isn't quite the same thing and is essentially the same plot device overused. Meanwhile, her reve Another in my series of catching up with books I meant to read but didn't. I recall loving the mini-series, finding it inspiring. The book and possibly age, have given me a slightly different view. Emma as self-made woman and a successful revenger, with good cause, are still there. Sadly though the Emma in these pages also makes most of her wealth through inheritance/alimony from four rich men, which isn't quite the same thing and is essentially the same plot device overused. Meanwhile, her revenge spirals out of control, with her going too far - destroying her enemies. Now Edwin deserves punishment but surely not to his grave, for a young man's act of cowardice. His brother Gerald by contrast gets no less than he deserves, whereas their father Adam hasn't actually done anything to deserve such harsh retribution.

Then there is the writing style, which is highly repetitive, with passages which are highly similar to earlier ones and overuse of adjectives. There is even excessive repetition of adjectives. You can tell if Emma will fancy a man because the author will describe him as having a sensual mouth, whatever that is. By contrast the pastiche of classic novels is rather well done, with elements of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Tess of the D'Ubervilles, all there but none followed slavishly.

So, all in all, come the denouement I wasn't entirely on Emma's side. I could see her position and sympathise but then again, I could see her children's motivations too. Her first daughter Edwina certainly had cause to resent a distant mother. In a shorter book, this might still have made 4 stars and I am curious to see the mini series again, but the amount of time it took to read this blockbuster makes me disappointed that it wasn't better.
Robin
I needed something easy to read and found it in A Woman of Substance. My recall of this novel was, unfortunately, better than the reality. However, when it ws first published it created an environment in which strong, ambitious women were to become familiar characters - a wonderful achievement. So, for that alone, I felt that I should change my original one star rating to two. If there were halves available I'd give it an additional half star.

While thinking about the novel, the television mini- I needed something easy to read and found it in A Woman of Substance. My recall of this novel was, unfortunately, better than the reality. However, when it ws first published it created an environment in which strong, ambitious women were to become familiar characters - a wonderful achievement. So, for that alone, I felt that I should change my original one star rating to two. If there were halves available I'd give it an additional half star.

While thinking about the novel, the television mini-series becomes part of my consideration. The series was quite rivetting, with its attractive stars, beautiful clothing and glorious settings. To be fair to the novel, these are also an integral part of the written work, with its luscious descriptions of the moors, the stark differences between the large house and small cottage in which the first part of the novel is set and attractive Emma harte and Blackie.

The dilemmas of the working woman and, for Emma, one who wants more than a career, rather she seeks an empire, are well laid out. An angry daughter, cool sons and misunderstandings of the past are well depicted. Also, it is clear that Emma could do nothing else - and the children's reaction is possible something they, too, could not avoid.

A Woman of Substance paved the way for other writers whose forte is the empire building career woman who seeks to have it all, worthy attribute in its self.
Lotte
I read this book as a girl and loved it. Now that I am older I decided to reread it. I can now see how the book is very similar to womens fiction, with lots of romance, despair, hard times, family and girl power. That being said - for a womens fiction book this is one of the better ones.
The story follows Emma, a young girl from a poor family, who is full of ambition to make something of herself. At a young age she finds herself pregnant and alone, but she doesn't let that stop her, and she embar I read this book as a girl and loved it. Now that I am older I decided to reread it. I can now see how the book is very similar to womens fiction, with lots of romance, despair, hard times, family and girl power. That being said - for a womens fiction book this is one of the better ones.
The story follows Emma, a young girl from a poor family, who is full of ambition to make something of herself. At a young age she finds herself pregnant and alone, but she doesn't let that stop her, and she embarks on a quest to bring down the boy, who deserted her. She uses her good business intuition and after years of hard work she finds herself a wealthy woman.
While working hard on her blooming business, Emma marries twice, has five kids and a bunch of grandkids. It seems theres nothing she can't do. She's beautiful, wealthy, a business genius, a woman in a mans world and confident in herself. The author tries to make her seem more human by giving her some bad luck in love (but really it's just Emma's own bad decisions, because she chooses husbands out of practicality in stead of out of love), and some entitled kids (which seems inevitable, seeing how they have never really interested her because of her business and her uninterest in their fathers).
All in all a decent book, with a good enough plotline. And who doesn't like a woman with girl power?
Kathy Bourgard
This is a sweeping saga of a young girl, Emma Harte, who was born into poverty in the late nineteenth century in a small town near Yorkshire, England. Emma is blessed with a keen intellect and curiosity and vows to one day become a wealthy and great lady by working harder than everyone. She is profoundly affected by the effects of the class system which divides English people into the wealthy gentry and those who serve them. The book spans some sixty years as Emma breaks free of her small town a This is a sweeping saga of a young girl, Emma Harte, who was born into poverty in the late nineteenth century in a small town near Yorkshire, England. Emma is blessed with a keen intellect and curiosity and vows to one day become a wealthy and great lady by working harder than everyone. She is profoundly affected by the effects of the class system which divides English people into the wealthy gentry and those who serve them. The book spans some sixty years as Emma breaks free of her small town and embarks on her lifelong quest. Along the way, she meets many people destined to play major roles in her life, for good or bad. I really enjoyed this book but had to re-read many of the passages written in the Yorkshire dialect. This is the first of five books about the Emma Harte dynasty. I put the others on a hold from our library and will be reading them very soon.
Lindsey
I read this book as it’s my mams favourite book and as such I really wanted to like it. It’s an interesting idea and I think in the hands of a better author it could have been really good. My main issue with this book though was Emma Harte. She was a horrible person - completely selfish who liked to blame everyone else for all her problems regardless of whether it was true or not. I felt next to no sympathy for her. I get that she had to be ruthless to an extent to escape her poverty stricken li I read this book as it’s my mams favourite book and as such I really wanted to like it. It’s an interesting idea and I think in the hands of a better author it could have been really good. My main issue with this book though was Emma Harte. She was a horrible person - completely selfish who liked to blame everyone else for all her problems regardless of whether it was true or not. I felt next to no sympathy for her. I get that she had to be ruthless to an extent to escape her poverty stricken life but the way she treated everyone she insists she cares about is disgusting. I could not get past my absolute hatred of her.
Siria Pettenuzzo
Mi piace davvero molto, non sapevo fosse il primo di una saga! Emma è un personaggio insolito, non è l'eroina fragile a cui serve l'aiuto di un uomo. Anzi, è una donna piena di coraggio e di amore per se stessa, fiera, risoluta, una donna come dovrebbero essercene di più. Mi rifiuto di dire che sia una donna con le palle, perché lei non agisce come un uomo, agisce come una persona di successo, determinata e pronta a tutto per raggiungere il suo obiettivo. Non è una lettura semplice e più di qual Mi piace davvero molto, non sapevo fosse il primo di una saga! Emma è un personaggio insolito, non è l'eroina fragile a cui serve l'aiuto di un uomo. Anzi, è una donna piena di coraggio e di amore per se stessa, fiera, risoluta, una donna come dovrebbero essercene di più. Mi rifiuto di dire che sia una donna con le palle, perché lei non agisce come un uomo, agisce come una persona di successo, determinata e pronta a tutto per raggiungere il suo obiettivo. Non è una lettura semplice e più di qualcuno potrebbe storcere il naso, ma io ne sono stata conquistata.
Consigliato? Sì!!
Fran
This book was written after the onset of the women's movement and had great appeal in its time. Many years later this book is still inspirational to women trying to make it in a man's world. This book does not only show the determined business side Emma Harte; we also see how her determination affected her personal life. Her drive was also fueled by revenge. Her determination to destroy the powerful Fairley family helped lead her to be one of the most powerful and rich women in the world. But at This book was written after the onset of the women's movement and had great appeal in its time. Many years later this book is still inspirational to women trying to make it in a man's world. This book does not only show the determined business side Emma Harte; we also see how her determination affected her personal life. Her drive was also fueled by revenge. Her determination to destroy the powerful Fairley family helped lead her to be one of the most powerful and rich women in the world. But at what price?

Although a long book, it holds your interest throughout and is chock full of events that makes it a true page turner.
Mary Shane Peterson
This book was actually a "life changing" book for me. The character Emma Harte become
someone that you feel that you know. She becomes a friend, and you pull for her in each circumstance she finds herself in. Her motivation and perseverance in light of some very major obstacles makes you sit and think, "What would I do in those circumstances?" She is a GREAT character, and her
friendships with the people she meets as a young girl that last throughout her life are absolutely touching.. I LOVED this This book was actually a "life changing" book for me. The character Emma Harte become
someone that you feel that you know. She becomes a friend, and you pull for her in each circumstance she finds herself in. Her motivation and perseverance in light of some very major obstacles makes you sit and think, "What would I do in those circumstances?" She is a GREAT character, and her
friendships with the people she meets as a young girl that last throughout her life are absolutely touching.. I LOVED this book.. I LOVED the characters.. and was SO SAD when I actually finished it :)
Lisa Sims
What a great book. I flipped through the first few pages after getting it from the library not meaning to actually start it. I was already in the middle of another book I was thoroughly enjoying but that one was set aside and this one took front and center. It wasn't without imperfections but mainly because if feels dated (it is!) with the language and descriptions being a bit over the top, but having said that, it was still an utterly satisfying and pleasurable book, the experience somewhat lik What a great book. I flipped through the first few pages after getting it from the library not meaning to actually start it. I was already in the middle of another book I was thoroughly enjoying but that one was set aside and this one took front and center. It wasn't without imperfections but mainly because if feels dated (it is!) with the language and descriptions being a bit over the top, but having said that, it was still an utterly satisfying and pleasurable book, the experience somewhat like eating your favorite ice cream for dinner.
Kristina
Oh man. I couldn't get through this book. I got about 200+ pages in and I thought I was about die from boredom and confusion. The first part of the story about Emma and her company and her granddaughter was interesting and made me excited to see where she came from, but I felt like when the years changed the writing changed. I was going insane trying to keep the cockney writing sane. I just couldn't waste anymore time on this book.
Caroline
Kind of old fashioned but I really liked it. It's a story about a strong, complex, but ultimately admirable female character who doesn't let gender norms stop her from being successful and finding happiness... so basically non-fantasy Tamora Pierce. Thus, obviously, it was just my cup of tea, as shown by the fact that I read the last 700 pages in less than 24 hours. Entertaining and thought provoking!
Dee Ann
I know that I read this book many years ago, but needed to read it again for my book club. The story itself is very interesting, but I found that this author just uses too many words to describe everything. I found myself skipping several sentences just to get passed all of the ongoing descriptions of the same thing. It does portray England during the time period this took place in very well. Emma Harte was quite the success story.
Valerie
This book takes you on a journey of one woman's life, and how that life bent tried its best to break her, only managing to bend her at the worst of times. She goes from pauper to owner and business tycoon. This character depicts true grit as she goes through life, and business trials and how she becomes a true woman of substance.
Simone
I read this when I was 17 and remember thinking it was a great story. These days I would probably be annoyed by the writing style and cliches, but that is why I won't re-read it. I prefer to remember it as an awestruck 17 year-old discovering romantic fiction for the first time.
Tory
I see the linkage, if you like Gone with the Wind, you'll likely enjoy A Woman of Substance.

Maybe it is because of the era the book was written. Or maybe because of the 'romance novel' genre. But while the main character was strong, driven, and highly successful, she married money every time.
Julie Bryan
Brilliant read!

Why didn't I read this before? I was hooked from the very beginning. The characters are wonderful especially the main ones and their descriptions leave you in no doubt who and what they are. Excellent!
J Steel
Read this years ago and enjoyed it just as much the second time

A real saga. Heart warming and heart breaking. One of the best novels I have ever read.....not many books I have read more than once through choice!
Chris Govey
I loved this book when it first appeared. Decided to have another look. It is such a vivid story and so well written. I am delighted to have read it again. Will try 'Hold the Dream' next, because I enjoyed this even more first time around.
Linda Klager
I read this book years ago after seeing the story on TV.
Tracy
I have read this book many times. It never fails to inspire and lift my spirits.
Sripriya Gandham
Absolutely brilliant and captivating though slightly dramatised to enhance the strength of Emma harte which I do not mind at all... Overall I enjoyed reading specifically the end is fabulous...
Joyce LaFond
Great book

Excellent book. Great story and well written. I recommend this book highly to all readers and book clubs couldn't put it down once I started reading it
Leigh Conroy-Horscraft
I loved reading this, a classic holiday read.
Barbara Zenger
Loved, loved this book. Looking forward t read the Harte Family series
Katrina Daughtridge
Truly great story! Could not put this book down!
P.S. Winn
Secrets behind what brought someone to fame, fortune and more take readers into a compelling story of what one might did to get what they want and the regrets that involves.
Joanne Nock
This is an epic and got me through 6 days of a 1 week holiday. Following Emma from age 15 to her 80s, it's mesmerising.
Stacy
I loved Emma’s strong character. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
Francelly
i adored this book! a beautiful story of rags-to-riches but not by using her “womanly ways”, so to speak. the writing was a bit too verbose and descriptive for my liking. i found myself skimming pages at a time but it never made me want to abandon the book. the plot was just too good.
Mary Sheppard
I think the author was trying too hard with the endless descriptions of just about everything.
I just wanted to get at the heart of the story. The story was intriguing but would have enjoyed it much more without all the endless descriptions.
Bonnie Silveria
Enjoyed this book for the 2nd time.... 20+ years in between.
Lorraine Baker
n 1905 a young kitchen maid leaves Fairley Hall. Emma Harte is sixteen, single and pregnant.

By 1968 she is one of the richest women in the world, ruler of a business empire stretching from Yorkshire to the glittering cities of America and the rugged vastness of Australia. But what is the price she has paid?

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy reading this but found it over long. Still its worth a read.
Alicia Martell
This book is about an indomitable Mary Sue named Emma, who begins life in poverty, works as a servant, and leaves to find success because she gets pregnant. Every single man she meets is charmed by, and usually falls in love with her, except Grumpy Butler Murgatroyd and Gerald "Dudley Dursley" Fairley, who's portrayed as a pompous, selfish, immoral glutton. The woman has more admirers than the Mona Lisa, and after a while you don't want to hear about her speedwell-blue eyes (this gets talked abo This book is about an indomitable Mary Sue named Emma, who begins life in poverty, works as a servant, and leaves to find success because she gets pregnant. Every single man she meets is charmed by, and usually falls in love with her, except Grumpy Butler Murgatroyd and Gerald "Dudley Dursley" Fairley, who's portrayed as a pompous, selfish, immoral glutton. The woman has more admirers than the Mona Lisa, and after a while you don't want to hear about her speedwell-blue eyes (this gets talked about ad nauseam) and glossy hair anymore. And she's very look-at-me-I'm-Sandra-Dee: for a love scene in CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE, after she's been married and has had CHILDREN, she claims to have never seen a man 100% in the buff. Really?! Did her previous husbands keep their long johns on? Why would they? Who could resist the allure of those oft-mentioned eyes? Ugh.

And the men are all attractive, for the most part. It's like Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average: only inferior characters are normal-looking, and antagonists? Absolutely nasty. (Unless they're related to her, because of her magical Mary Sue genes.)

The book often indulges in a Tolkien-ish level of detail. Everything gets heaps of description: half the purple prose would have been sufficient to establish setting, but instead, we get paragraphs full of commas and "tumbling, dappled streams." Some of the passages are lovely, but after the first hundred pages or so the loveliness wears off it and becomes exhausting. And then there was this--"His face was congested, his eyes blazed, and his entire body throbbed with unbridled passion."

Congested. Congested is I-95 at five on a Monday, or it's nasal allergies. Congested is not related to "unbridled passion" unless you have a traffic/mucus fetish.

This book was not AWFUL, and if you take away the Mary Sue aspects of her character, Emma is interesting. What isn't interesting is Barbara Taylor Bradford's excessive wordiness, which tends to go beyond the reasonable into self-indulgence. This book reminded me a lot of Philippa Gregory in a way, though at least Gregory's characters aren't usually Mary Sues. I remember Gregory's descriptions running on for ages, though her books are a lot "soapier." I would still recommend the book, though would reserve my recommendation for people who like super-wordy authors, and don't mind hopelessly unrealistic characters.
Deborah
It is amazing how much time can 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.

As others have commented, 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 It is amazing how much time can 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.

As others have commented, 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.
Meghan
Read because book club was reading the 4th book in the series, pretty good
Heather
The prose is a bit overblown at times, and the story's a bit dated, but then, it was written in the late '70's, so that's not too surprising. The bigger problem I had was with the characters. Or, with the main character, Emma Harte. I didn't find much to like in Emma. While she certainly had some justification for her anger towards the Fairley family, or at least towards Edwin and Gerald, she carried a misconceived anger against the family from the start, and even at the end when she learned som The prose is a bit overblown at times, and the story's a bit dated, but then, it was written in the late '70's, so that's not too surprising. The bigger problem I had was with the characters. Or, with the main character, Emma Harte. I didn't find much to like in Emma. While she certainly had some justification for her anger towards the Fairley family, or at least towards Edwin and Gerald, she carried a misconceived anger against the family from the start, and even at the end when she learned some truths, she didn't reflect on her mistakes at all. That anger fueled her energy and helped make her a financial success, but it also poisoned her, in a way I almost feel the author didn't notice, because she was so busy making Emma practically perfect in every way. Seriously, she was a total Mary Sue - she was the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the most business-savvy, the most tastefully-dressed, you name it, Emma did it better than anyone else. And she did it all without much formal education; she was just naturally good. At everything. Every man she met wanted her. Nobody she met could outwit her. Anything you can do, she could do better.

Reading about a character like that gets old after far less than the 800+ pages this book takes up...

But I'm a sucker for rags-to-riches, multi-generational sagas, so I stuck it through. And overall, it was worth the (rather lengthy) read. I don't think I'll continue the series, but I don't begrudge the time I spent reading this one...
Amanda
This was a long book. Which was fine because it gave you a chance to become acquainted with the characters and you weren't left wondering about the backstory. However, as I got to the end of the book it felt really rushed. Like the author thought I only have so many pages left I need to wrap this up. That being said I became really involved with the characters and it was a really good novel.

I liked how Emma was so driven and became a great sucess. However, she was sort of a crappy mom especiall This was a long book. Which was fine because it gave you a chance to become acquainted with the characters and you weren't left wondering about the backstory. However, as I got to the end of the book it felt really rushed. Like the author thought I only have so many pages left I need to wrap this up. That being said I became really involved with the characters and it was a really good novel.

I liked how Emma was so driven and became a great sucess. However, she was sort of a crappy mom especially for that day in age. You really can't blame her children for coming off as lazy and entitled at the end. She raised them that way. The one thing that is missing from this story is how she became to be so distant from her children. She was always distant from Edwina. But Kit, Robin, and Elizabeth it always seemed like she got along with fine. It never tells why they turned on her.

I wound up reading this because I had a copy of the 3rd book in the series that I got at a book sale. At that time I didn't realize there were 2 before it. When I went to read it I noticed it was a series so I went out and found the first two and the fourth. The second is just as long as the first - I started it last night. I'm hoping there's still enough to this story to make reading all 4 worth while.
Ruth
Published in 1979. Nice rags to riches story with interesting "follow ups" on the various characters. Definitely a novel of its time though. Very enjoyable as long as you are not expecting a "serious read". Bradford (b 1933 ) has a journalistic background and the discipline that this entails helps to keep the story moving along. The Times Rich List for 2009 ranks Bradford at 344 with a stated worth of £166m. Details from the Times includes the following "Resident in New York, Bradford, 74, star Published in 1979. Nice rags to riches story with interesting "follow ups" on the various characters. Definitely a novel of its time though. Very enjoyable as long as you are not expecting a "serious read". Bradford (b 1933 ) has a journalistic background and the discipline that this entails helps to keep the story moving along. The Times Rich List for 2009 ranks Bradford at 344 with a stated worth of £166m. Details from the Times includes the following "Resident in New York, Bradford, 74, started in the typing pool on her local paper in Leeds and now earns about £13m a year.". This novel sparked a number of follow on books about the Harte family. Thick books not for the faint hearted but the stories will draw you on. Would recommend but not in a "top" list. The granddaughter is described as:- "She had Emma's talent for reading a balance sheet with rapidity and detecting, almost at a glance, its strengths and its weaknessess and, like her grandmother, her business acumen was formidable."
Pat Buzby
This book was on my Christmas list and I am so glad I got it! I love to start my summer with an epic novel and this one did not fail me. I can't believe I read 900 pages in a week, didn't do much else obviously. I did not realize that this book continues with another and another and another and another...get the idea. I guess this will be the summer of the UK. After all this, I should be going to the Queens Jubilee-but whatever. In the beginning Mrs. Bradford added some big words that combined w This book was on my Christmas list and I am so glad I got it! I love to start my summer with an epic novel and this one did not fail me. I can't believe I read 900 pages in a week, didn't do much else obviously. I did not realize that this book continues with another and another and another and another...get the idea. I guess this will be the summer of the UK. After all this, I should be going to the Queens Jubilee-but whatever. In the beginning Mrs. Bradford added some big words that combined with the English currency had me wondering if I was going to be running to google every few pages, but I think she was just trying to sound stuffy. Anyway, I did find some inconsistancies that had me going back and re-reading a few things, made me wonder when the 30th anniversary addition came out if some things should have been changed, but they were minor and soon forgotten. I have Hold the Dream ready to start, but I think I will do a couple of non-fictions before I tackle another big read.
Penney Nile
I first read Barbara Taylor Bradford’s ‘A Woman of Substance’ soon after it was published in 1979, and quickly became addicted to the Harte Family Saga, eagerly reading each as they were published. ‘A Woman of Substance’ is the first in a series of seven novels (so far) detailing the lives of the women of the Harte family, beginning with the tale of the early years of Emma Harte herself as she moves from being a fifteen year old servant girl at Fairley Hall in the Yorkshire moors to being a capt I first read Barbara Taylor Bradford’s ‘A Woman of Substance’ soon after it was published in 1979, and quickly became addicted to the Harte Family Saga, eagerly reading each as they were published. ‘A Woman of Substance’ is the first in a series of seven novels (so far) detailing the lives of the women of the Harte family, beginning with the tale of the early years of Emma Harte herself as she moves from being a fifteen year old servant girl at Fairley Hall in the Yorkshire moors to being a captain of industry with businesses worth billions of pounds. It follows her through three marriages, and life with Paul McGill, her one true love, the birth of her grandchildren, and her many friendships during life.

I recommend this book and its sequels highly to anyone who enjoys multi-generational novels about people who have the will and fortitude to conquer any obstacle that is put before them. Emma Harte is one of those people.
K.
Oh Dear. What to write about this book. It's much longer than it should be, due to pages and pages of totally irrelevant descriptions of how a table was set or how a room was decorated, etc. Although there is a decent story in there somewhere, getting to it amidst the mind numbing descriptions of things is a challenge. This author's style is definitely not one I can easily embrace. One could probably cut 150 pages from this book and not notice. The author repeats herself often in describing her Oh Dear. What to write about this book. It's much longer than it should be, due to pages and pages of totally irrelevant descriptions of how a table was set or how a room was decorated, etc. Although there is a decent story in there somewhere, getting to it amidst the mind numbing descriptions of things is a challenge. This author's style is definitely not one I can easily embrace. One could probably cut 150 pages from this book and not notice. The author repeats herself often in describing her character's green eyes or hair color. She also likes the word "dichotomy" if I remember correctly, and uses it frequently.

It's been a while since I read this book. The last time I read it was because some friends of mine were raving about it. Having gotten into it, I realized I had read it before and hadn't remembered the title. I remember it now, mostly so I don't make the same mistake twice.
Lin #Historical lover...
I adore this book. I first read it some time around 2000 then again in early 2014.

For such a long book it is full of inspiration. I don't think I realised how long it actually was till I read the page count today. I would not expect to be so intrigued following a woman's life from puberty to elderly. However this story was gripping. Only her career ends happily ever after... her personal life was a mess!!! Yet in the midst of numerous personal trials she found some of the best friends and busine I adore this book. I first read it some time around 2000 then again in early 2014.

For such a long book it is full of inspiration. I don't think I realised how long it actually was till I read the page count today. I would not expect to be so intrigued following a woman's life from puberty to elderly. However this story was gripping. Only her career ends happily ever after... her personal life was a mess!!! Yet in the midst of numerous personal trials she found some of the best friends and business partners for life.

The experiences of her life also in a realistic way shows what happens when all your focus is on career and professional success. Family is neglected and sometimes it is too high a price to pay.

The sequels were not as good IMHO because by then she is a demi god in the eyes of many and I felt that less attention was paid to the other characters (her children and grandchildren and friends in particular). But this book will always be a favorite of mine.
Susan
The story is about a servant girl, Emma Harte, who lives in a humble Yorkshire village and is the servant girl of a wealthy family the Fairley's. While working there she fell in love with one of the Fairley's sons Edwin.

In the wake of tragedy she rose from poverty to wealth and became one of the richest women in the world. Through two marriages, two wars and generations of secrets her success came with a price.

The story is about her growing up from being a poor girl to a rich women. All that sh The story is about a servant girl, Emma Harte, who lives in a humble Yorkshire village and is the servant girl of a wealthy family the Fairley's. While working there she fell in love with one of the Fairley's sons Edwin.

In the wake of tragedy she rose from poverty to wealth and became one of the richest women in the world. Through two marriages, two wars and generations of secrets her success came with a price.

The story is about her growing up from being a poor girl to a rich women. All that she went through to get what she wanted and how it all affected her family.

There are other books in this series, if you want to continue the storyline.

I enjoyed this book because sometimes when you were reading it you anticipated what would happen next but it took a different turn.
Elizabeth Joseph
Remember Scarlett O'Hara of Gone with the Wind and Meggie Cleary of The Thorn Birds !!! Emma Harte who is the so called Woman of Substance is a balanced fusion of both these characters - Strong willed, beautiful, ambitious etc etc.

There is a praise for this book on the book cover saying this book is for people who like McCullough's The Thorn Birds. It is true in some respect that a huge book of over 900 pages is not for the faint hearted :P

I liked reading this book and I couldn't possibly put Remember Scarlett O'Hara of Gone with the Wind and Meggie Cleary of The Thorn Birds !!! Emma Harte who is the so called Woman of Substance is a balanced fusion of both these characters - Strong willed, beautiful, ambitious etc etc.

There is a praise for this book on the book cover saying this book is for people who like McCullough's The Thorn Birds. It is true in some respect that a huge book of over 900 pages is not for the faint hearted :P

I liked reading this book and I couldn't possibly put this down before completing it. But there were umpteen moments when I just wanted the book to finish so that I can get on with my life. And the ending was very predictable...So you just had to wait to see it happening.

And I don't think I will be picking up any of the sequels in a long time. There are 5 more books in the sequel.
BBBTerri
One of my favorite books. The first and absolute best of the 4 epic sagas in this series. I love this book about Emma Harte, a poor, naive servant girl, taken advantage of by the elite class in Yorkshire, England. She becomes pregnant by one of the sons that she is working for and he turns his back on her. She eventually gets ultimate revenge, but not really in this first book. She's smart, beautiful and hard working and becomes a very wealthy woman running her own International business, Harte One of my favorite books. The first and absolute best of the 4 epic sagas in this series. I love this book about Emma Harte, a poor, naive servant girl, taken advantage of by the elite class in Yorkshire, England. She becomes pregnant by one of the sons that she is working for and he turns his back on her. She eventually gets ultimate revenge, but not really in this first book. She's smart, beautiful and hard working and becomes a very wealthy woman running her own International business, Harte Enterprises....self-made in her own right.

The second book, Hold the Dream is very good also. To be the Best is good and the last book Emma's secret was mediocre at best.

This book is a fantastic woman's book that makes you soar and feel like you can conquer anything.

It's easy to get hooked into this series!
Kathie
This was Taylor-Bradford's first novel in 1979. I must have read it for the first time around then and all these years later have continued to be impressed with the story, the characters, the setting, the historical fiction, and what I like to call a 'sophisticated romance novel' of sorts. In a de-cluttering and simplifying session, I finally donated the original dog-eared, cover-worn paperback, and several sequels to the Emma Harte Saga, to the library for their annual fall book sale. But I wan This was Taylor-Bradford's first novel in 1979. I must have read it for the first time around then and all these years later have continued to be impressed with the story, the characters, the setting, the historical fiction, and what I like to call a 'sophisticated romance novel' of sorts. In a de-cluttering and simplifying session, I finally donated the original dog-eared, cover-worn paperback, and several sequels to the Emma Harte Saga, to the library for their annual fall book sale. But I wanted to read it again so I borrowed through the store Prime membership free lending library. I'm surprised by how many of details I had forgotten but not by my interest in this strong, rags-to-riches female heroine. While I find it a little outdated today with all the husbands and some of Emma Harte's archaic beliefs, it still remained for me a darn good read! Pure summer escapist entertainment.
Jill
Worth the almost 900 pages of effort. When reading this, keep in mind that it is a work of fiction and you can criticize how perfect Emma is and how everything goes her way once she made up her mind to be rich, but I really like/identify with the underlying theme of hard work, pride, and business as usual, no matter what today's emotions are. I will agree that sometimes the descriptions of room decor/dress don't add much to the story except to exemplify the wealth that Emma is surrounded by. I d Worth the almost 900 pages of effort. When reading this, keep in mind that it is a work of fiction and you can criticize how perfect Emma is and how everything goes her way once she made up her mind to be rich, but I really like/identify with the underlying theme of hard work, pride, and business as usual, no matter what today's emotions are. I will agree that sometimes the descriptions of room decor/dress don't add much to the story except to exemplify the wealth that Emma is surrounded by. I didn't like that she had a favorite child/grandchild, but I appreciated and identified with her endurance through love lost and staying focused on being her own success. The right mix of a compelling tale, romance, and suspense to keep me interested in finishing the story.
Claudia Reid
I've read this book a while back approximately 28 years. And I must say it is a contributing factor in me being motivated. How am I commenting on thus book now? I was meditating on the things and events that propelled me during my life and I remembered this is the book that's the underling driving force. As for those who think it is too long. That is the problem with us today, us wanting instant gratification. The way this novel has positively affected my life, I'm not surprise to see that it is I've read this book a while back approximately 28 years. And I must say it is a contributing factor in me being motivated. How am I commenting on thus book now? I was meditating on the things and events that propelled me during my life and I remembered this is the book that's the underling driving force. As for those who think it is too long. That is the problem with us today, us wanting instant gratification. The way this novel has positively affected my life, I'm not surprise to see that it is considered in the business category and women self motivation. I am about to get my second copy. I wish I can find it in hard cover. This deserve to be on my bookshelf. I would love to have it as an ebook also for quick reads when I have down times

Thus is a great read.
Kristin Rodarte
I love this book! It literally took me months to get through because it is a very large book and in a way it does read slow. Barabra Taylor Bradford is a very elegant writer and I love the way she describes things in such great detail. I think i got smarter just reading this haha. But I love a sweet story of rags to riches. I fell in love with Emma and her strength. She motivated me to want to strive for more and not let things get in the way. Times were hard back then and so many parts of the b I love this book! It literally took me months to get through because it is a very large book and in a way it does read slow. Barabra Taylor Bradford is a very elegant writer and I love the way she describes things in such great detail. I think i got smarter just reading this haha. But I love a sweet story of rags to riches. I fell in love with Emma and her strength. She motivated me to want to strive for more and not let things get in the way. Times were hard back then and so many parts of the book literally broke my heart. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for something vintage and not a perfect once upon a time story.
Heather
It took me forever to get into this book. At roughly 900 pages, it took me about 150 pages, in fact. But I am so glad that I persevered! This is a good, solid, work of girl fiction.

It's a panoramic, sweeping, life story of one smart and feisty woman named Emma Harte. Her trials and successes span much of the 20th century, enabling her to have a dizzying ability to experience history while being supremely fabulous. This is what makes it enjoyable, along with her character, which is well-developed It took me forever to get into this book. At roughly 900 pages, it took me about 150 pages, in fact. But I am so glad that I persevered! This is a good, solid, work of girl fiction.

It's a panoramic, sweeping, life story of one smart and feisty woman named Emma Harte. Her trials and successes span much of the 20th century, enabling her to have a dizzying ability to experience history while being supremely fabulous. This is what makes it enjoyable, along with her character, which is well-developed and fun to accompany on the journey.

This was a free book that I just picked up and happened to try and enjoy. I succeeded, and now I recommend it!
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