A Woman of Substance

Author: Barbara Taylor Bradford

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Release Date: October 13, 2009

Blue Ribbon Rating: 5.0

Format: PRINT

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As a poverty-stricken child on the Yorkshire moors, Emma Harte worked as a servant for the wealthy Fairley family, to help support herself and her family, despite the cruelties she suffered while working there.  She and the master’s son, Edwin, became good friends, but it eventually led to trouble.  Before the age of twenty, Emma became pregnant by Edwin, who turned his back on her.  Then, scorned by Edwin, Emma ran away from home, forced to fend for herself and vowing vengeance against the Fairleys.  Through all her adversities, she lived by one rule; to endure.  With a natural talent in business and the will to succeed, Emma rose from being a servant for wealthy people to owning a multi-million dollar enterprise.  To those close to her, she is a warm, kind, understanding woman, but to those who cross her, she is a cold, manipulative woman.  Throughout her life, she has one very close friend, Blackie O’Neill, a life long friend with whom she shares a mutual respect and love.

The story follows Emma’s life from her early childhood and continues through nearly six decades of her life.  Along the way, she married several men, but she only gave her heart to one…the love of her life and the only one who could come close to breaking her.  Her rise in business is due to her ambition to seek revenge against two of the Fairleys, the master and his son.  She worked hard to achieve her goals, always succeeding at what she set out to accomplish and determined that no one will hurt her or her family again…no matter what.


The story opens in 1968; Emma is seventy-eight-years-old and traveling back to New York from London with her granddaughter, Paula, who shares Emma’s love for the business.  Delighted by her granddaughter’s business acumen, Emma began training her when Paula was sixteen.  Having just settled a problem in the London office, Emma returns to her New York office and discovers that her two sons and her oldest daughter have been plotting against her behind her back, making plans to break up her businesses.  In the midst of taking care of this problem, she contracts pneumonia, and she is hospitalized.  While in the hospital, she gains a calmness of spirit and determines to get well so she can finish what needs to be done.  Within three weeks, she is back at work and making plans for a family gathering.  Though Paula is upset that the rest of the family is going to be present for the weekend away with her grandmother, she doesn’t question it when she sees the cold, hard look in her grandmother’s eyes.  She knows her grandmother has something planned, but not even Paula is prepared for Emma’s explosive announcement at the family gathering.  What bombshell does she have in store for her family? 


A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE is an extremely entertaining novel.  In fact, this story was author Barbara Taylor Bradford’s best-selling debut novel, the first in what began as a trilogy.  However, subsequent demand has resulted in the EMMA HARTE SAGA, which includes six sequels being written by Ms. Bradford, including the latest BREAKING ALL THE RULES.  A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE covers a whole range of emotions; love, hate, pride, passion, tears and laughter.  Readers will find that it is practically impossible to put this book down until they finish reading this consuming story.  This is an inspiring story, spanning two world wars and filled with love and success.  The inspiring plot, realistic characters and the gifted author’s ability to bring it all to life, makes this story unforgettable.  The plot twists and surprises culminate in a magnificent ending. A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE is one of author Barbara Taylor Bradford’s best novels and it is definitely a keeper…one that I plan to keep on my shelf to read again!


By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Dottie

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