The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

  • the fortune hunterTitle:  The Fortune Hunter: A Novel
  • Author:  Daisy Goodwin
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  July 2014 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:   Publisher

Synopsis:   Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.

Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that jeopardizes the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and threatens all of their futures.

The Fortune Hunter, a brilliant new novel by Daisy Goodwin, is a lush, irresistible story of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures.  (publisher)

My take:  I’m a fan of historical fiction (especially the Victorian era) so when I was offered a copy of The Fortune Hunter I was happy to accept. I liked that one of the main characters was Austrian Empress Elizabeth (Sisi to family and friends) – someone I knew little about. She was an unusual and unhappy woman. Her husband Franz Joseph married her and then ignored her. She seemed to finally find happiness when she escaped her sheltered life in Austria and came to England to hunt.  Sisi was even happier when introduced to Captain Bay Middleton who would become her hunting pilot (guide) and possibly more.

At first my feelings toward Bay were mixed. He was all but promised to young heiress, Charlotte Baird, when he met the Empress. He appeared to genuinely love Charlotte but then was easily taken in by the Empress who wasted no time in drawing him into her world. He seemed to have no qualms about leaving his old world behind. In the end, I didn’t waste much sympathy on him.

I thought The Fortune Hunter was a rather quiet novel. The pace picked up in the second half and I enjoyed it but the first half was rather slow as the characters and their homes and hunts were laid out in great detail.

If you enjoy historical novels rich in detail you may want to read this book. I’m glad I did and will be interested to see what Daisy Goodwin writes about next.