Barbara Taylor Bradford: A Woman of Substance

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Barbara Taylor Bradford: A Woman of Substance.

I recently read and reviewed Ms Taylor Bradford’s latest book The Cavendon Women (which I recommend heartily) and this made me eager to reread the first books of hers that I ever read.

Coincidentally, it was also the author’s first book.

I can assure you that it stands the test of time admirably and reading it again now I find that it is just as absorbing as it was when I first came across the novel.

If the statistics are anything to go by, then this fabulous saga is being discovered by new readers every day so if you’ve never met our heroine, Emma Harte, then I suggest that you do so. You’ll be enthralled. Emma’s story has everything.

Emma, born in the reign of Queen Victoria, had an impoverished childhood in a remote Yorkshire village that was dominated by the aristocratic Fairley family.

The Fairleys own the industry in the village, a brickworks and a mill where her father and brothers work, and at an early age Emma also becomes an employee when she goes to work as a maid at Fairley Hall.

The book tells of Emma’s tragedies and successes as she overcomes her poverty-stricken childhood and she builds up an embryonic business – based on her talents and incredibly hard work – to become a wealthy woman.

Follow her through the birth of her illegitimate child, her marriages, affairs, treachery, desperate losses and two world wars as she struggles to survive and then to create a lifestyle she dreamed about as a child. See too how she discovers that her early life forges a bond that affects her children and grandchildren. To say more about the plot would be to spoil the book for you.

You’ll love the beautifully crafted characters who truly come to life as you read. I’m showing my age here but it was thirty five years ago that I first discovered this book and re-reading it was like revisiting old friends. You too will get to know and love Blackie, Laura, Paul and … well, you’ll see.

Barbara Taylor Bradford

The author is from Leeds in Yorkshire. You may know, if you’re a regular reader of my articles, that I am a proud Yorkshirewoman too. 🙂  I know that the historical aspects of this novel are perfectly accurate and meticulous, and I’m sure that she has drawn from her own experiences of the county – and its history – in this superb novel.

With A Woman of Substance, she has created a classic. She follows in the footsteps of esteemed Yorkshire writers reaching from the nineteenth century Brontes to her contemporary, Alan Bennett.

In Emma Harte, Ms Taylor Bradford created a woman who is a role model but, most likely inadvertently, the author became a role model herself.



Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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