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Emma's Secret Hardcover – Jan 6 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (Jan. 6 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312307020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312307028
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 4.3 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Emma Harte, the heroine of Bradford's novel A Woman of Substance (1979), has been dead for more than 30 years when Emma's Secret opens, but her past factors heavily into the events of the novel. At the bequest of her dying grandmother, young American Evan Hughes arrives at Emma's magnificent English clothing store, Hartes, only to find out that Emma has long since died. She is soon hired as a store assistant to Linnet O'Neill, Emma's great-granddaughter, who can't help but notice the American's resemblance to her own mother, Paula. Evan and Gideon Harte, Paula's cousin, fall in love amid whispers that Evan might be the descendant of one of Emma's husbands. The truth lies in Emma's diary, but Paula is reluctant to read it. Curiosity finally gets the better of her, and the journal takes Paula to Emma's life during World War II, and at least partially answers the family's questions about Evan's heritage. It is up to Paula to figure out the rest. Readers new to the series might have a hard time getting a handle on the large cast of characters and their relationships to each other, but those familiar with Emma Harte and her large family will feel right at home. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
With "Emma's Secret," Barbara Taylor Bradford returns yet again to the world of the Hartes. This story centers around the mystery of Evan Hughes, a young American woman who is somehow connected with the Hartes. Interspersed with this story is a look at how Emma, Blackie and the other original characters got through World War II. Compared to the other section of the book, this one just shines, making me wonder if perhaps this was cut from the original manuscript of "A Woman of Substance."
The rest of the story, I'm sorry to say, was just tame. The characters are a bit flat. and a lot of the original conflict and spark is leached out of the story. The ending also appears rushed. We get cameo appearances by Jonathan Ainsley, who is still sociopathic and evil, but never actually DOES anything, except lurk and make menacing speeches. Sarah Lowther also reappears, but it seems that she is now a sympathetic character, without a hint of rancor about how Paula summarily tossed her out of the family several years earlier. I found that incomprehensible. I also found the conflict between Tessa and Linnet somewhat unrealistic. The mystery never really held my interest and the open ending seemed rushed (or an invitation to buy the sequel?).
I'm giving this two stars for the great Emma Harte excerpts.
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By A Customer on May 13 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read Woman of Substance for the first time MANY years ago. I enjoyed it so much that I've read it several times since then... The sequels (i.e., Hold the Dream and To Be the Best) weren't as captivating as the original but they were 'good reads' nonetheless...
Emma's Secret is not of the calibre of those books. There isn't much of a story ... Emma's "secret "isn't really anything big or shocking... I think the only thing that I did enjoy was knowing more about Emma's family
The things that really bugged me about this book:
- It ends abruptly. When it ended, I actually flipped through it to make sure that I didn't miss any pages.
- For a sequel, it has SO MANY inconsistencies with the other books that you have to wonder if B.T.Bradford ever read her own books.
For example... they mention that Paula's father fired Jonathan and Sarah (they say it more than once) ... but we know that it was really Alexander ... someone finds a picture of 'Big Jack' and Winstor Sr.... and winston was wearing his 'navy uniform' .. but Jack and Winston never met after winston ran off to join the navy...
anyhow, there are numerous such inconsistences that really make it difficult for a 'fan' of the original books to take this book seriously
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By A Customer on March 8 2004
Format: Hardcover
First of all, Did we all read the same book? It seems most of the reviewers either loved this book or hated it! I for one was truly disappointed. I was so thrilled to see there was a follow up to the story of Emma Harte. Substance of the Woman was one of my all time favorite books. I also enjoyed Hold the Dream, though it did not have the same magic as the first book. But what was Barbara Taylor Bradford and her editors thinking besides "lets make some money"?
This book rambles on about too many characters! Are we supposed to care about these characters just because they look and sound like the characters from the earlier books? We are dragged through eleborate details about events that in the end are inconsequential or don't even happen? Why did we have to keep reading about the birthday party plans - the party never happens? Why did we have to read about evil cousin Jonathon when nothing even happens? Are we supposed to care about the snotty sister who's being abused by her husband?
By the end of the book you've forgotten all about the main characters from the beginning of the book. You're waiting for events to take place that just don't happen. I felt as if the author got a call that her manuscript was due right now, so she quickly finished the page she was on, hit print, and sent it off to the publisher as it was - unfinished! I suppose, in reality, that the ending was meant to be a cliff hanger - but I for one I'm not going to fork out more money to find out what happens next!
You'd be better to re-read Substance on a Woman and let Emma take her secrets to her grave!
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By A Customer on Jan. 31 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have read and reread all of Barbar Taylor Bradford's fiction books and have all of them in hardcover. I especially enjoyed A Woman of Substance and the rest of the trilogy. I bought this book as soon as I learned about it and read it in just over a day. Initially I was ecstatic to be able to revisit Emma, her family and the clans, however, I was disappointed that there were glaring errors that do not coincide with facts and events from the original trilogy. I loved the trilogy, but I can't say the same about this book because some discrepancies between events in the trilogy and this book were very noticeable even with a fast read. For example, Paula's cordial relationship, if not friendship, with Robin Ainsley, is VERY surprising and the change in this relationship is not explained. In To be the Best, Kit Lowther and Robin Ainsley and their wives are persona non grata in the Harte family. If such a giant leap was taken in their relationship, it needs to be explained. Unfortunately, BTB doesn't offer any explanation at all for the improvement in the relationship between Paula and Robin. Also, when Sarah Lowther mentions the episode when she was thrown out of the family, she says that Paula's father fired her, when in Hold the Dream, Sarah and Jonathan are actually fired by their cousin, Alexander Barkstone. For those familiar with the trilogy, these differences will matter. It also seems like BTB lifted large chunks from the trilogy and transferred them to this book. BTB is a great writer, and could have done much better. Although the errors make revisiting Emma and her extended family less than satisfying, it was still interesting to see how the families of Paula and Emily have grown, and nice to see another slice of Emma's life. I am hoping to see more of Emma Harte, a truly amazing character, but only if the facts from the previous books are not distorted. If this book was written at the request of her readers, BTB should have been faithful to them.
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