Monday, 6 October 2014

The Fortune Hunter

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin
Published by Headline
28th August 2014
Paperback Edition

In 1875, Sisi, the Empress of Austria is the woman that every man desires and every woman envies.

Beautiful, athletic and intelligent, Sisi has everything - except happiness. Bored with the stultifying etiquette of the Hapsburg Court and her dutiful but unexciting husband, Franz Joseph, Sisi comes to England to hunt. She comes looking for excitement and she finds it in the dashing form of Captain Bay Middleton, the only man in Europe who can outride her. Ten years younger than her and engaged to the rich and devoted Charlotte, Bay has everything to lose by falling for a woman who can never be his. But Bay and the Empress are as reckless as each other, and their mutual attraction is a force that cannot be denied.

This is Daisy Goodwin's second novel, following on the heels of My Last Duchess.  It tells the story of the Empress of Austria, Sisi, a woman unhappy in marriage, and longing for adventure.  Sisi comes to England to join the hunt and there she meets Captain Bay Middleton.  He is assigned to be her pilot and make sure that she is kept safe whilst on horseback; however a spark forms between them which goes deeper than Empress and commoner.  Add to the formula rich heiress Charlotte Baird and you have a fascinating tale of forbidden love and adventure set in the late 19th century.

The Empress of Austria
I loved that this book is based on real people.  I love my history, and much prefer it when I know that the people I am reading about really did live.  Elizabeth or Sisi as she was known, was married to Franz Joseph, ruler of the Hapsburg empire.  She had hair that reached to her toes and was considered the 'Princess Diana' of her day.  William 'Bay' Middleton did pilot her when she came to England to hunt with Earl Spencer, and it is speculated that they did indeed have a relationship. 
Captain Middleton
There are some fabulous characters in this book, especially the American photographer Caspar Hewes who has no idea of the airs and graces associated with European royalty.  I also liked how Daisy Goodwin managed to incorporate Queen Victoria into the story, and gives her a cameo role!  Even better was that the book is set around Easton Neston, the grand  home of the Fermor family that is situated in the town I was born, and that Sisi rented in 1876.  This has also been chosen as one of the autumn titles for this years' Richard & Judy Book Club.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

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