Monday, May 26, 2014
Book Review: "The Fortune Hunter" by Daisy Goodwin
I do not often choose to read romance novels; they are simply not "my thing." But this historical romance novel by New York Times Bestselling Author Daisy Goodwin was listed under "Literature and Fiction," so I ordered it. I enjoyed the book, in part because the writing style is indeed quite "literary," and in part because the writing is so cinematic. Ms. Goodwin attended Columbia University's film school, and her love for imagery is prominently on display in her writing here.
Based on assiduous historical research, this novel paints the picture of an unhappy Empress, "Sisi," wife of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph. In many ways she was a 19th century Princess Di, uncomfortable with the strictly limited role she was expected to play as wife of a boring and traditional husband she did not love and who really did not know the true woman he had chosen as his wife. The novel revolves around a complex set of relationships at the center of which is a love triangle - Empress Sisi, Charlotte Baird, a rich heiress, and Captain Bay Middleton. The historical figures actually existed; the drama that emerges in this novel was imagined by the author. Both Sisi and Charlotte are non-traditional women. Sisi hunts and is the finest horsewoman in Europe. Charlotte is an accomplished photographer in the era when that art form was just being "developed." Captain Middleton loves both women, manages to offend both women, and struggles to figure out what to do.
The action is fast-paced. The novel is full of rich detail about life among Victorian aristocracy. The characters are well developed and of interest. I read the book quickly because I was curious to see how the many complications would be resolved. I found "The Fortune Hunter" to be an excellent read.