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May 05, 2016

The Fortune Hunter

The Fortune HUnterThe Fortune Hunter

By: Daisy Goodwin

If you enjoy historical fiction with colorful characters, romantic relationships without all the intimate details, and an exciting plot that keeps you reading; you will love Daisy Goodwin’s The Fortune Hunter. The novel is based on historical facts and mainly concerns a love triangle between an heiress, a handsome man who is a horseman by trade, and an empress.

Charlotte Baird, an orphan and sole heiress to the massive Lennox fortune, lives in London with her Aunt Adelaide and her half-brother and guardian, Fred. Unfortunately for Fred, he is not an heir as he and Charlotte have the same father but it was her mother who passed the Lennox fortune onto Charlotte. Charlotte spends her time painting caricatures of people (in private) and pursuing her hobby of photography. Neither of these occupations are judged appropriate by her brother or his overbearing fiancée, Augusta Crewe. Everyone has designs on Charlotte’s future, including her brother’s close friend, Captain Hartopp called Chicken by his friends. Chicken Hartopp has a fortune of his own but has set his sights on acquiring Charlotte, along with her fortune.

Aunt Adelaide, Charlotte, Hartopp, Fred and Augusta all leave London to attend a house party at Augusta’s parents’ home in Leicestershire. Charlotte furthers her acquaintance with Captain Bay Middleton, whom she has briefly met at a ball in London. They have an understanding that they will eventually be married and become unofficially engaged. Although Middleton is a friend of Fred’s (and Hartopp’s), everyone is scandalized by this burgeoning relationship as Middleton is known to have had affairs with married woman and has limited financial resources. At the same time, Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, takes residence at a home nearby to engage in the hunting season. Middleton, an expert horseman who hopes to ride his horse in the Grand National, is asked to be the pilot (guide) for the empress. Middleton eventually agrees to guide the Empress, an aging beauty who suffers from depression, and said to be the most beautiful woman in Europe.

Charlotte unexpectedly leaves to help prepare a photography exhibit with her godmother in London. The letter she left for Middleton is intercepted and he does not know why she has left or for where. During this time, a relationship develops between the Empress and Middleton and they have an affair. However, the Empress is very needy and demanding and Middleton eventually wants out after a scandal ensues. Charlotte is upset and humiliated and plans to run off to photograph America with a male, homosexual friend of her godmother. It is hard to describe the plot of the novel without going into a detailed description of what happened. However, I won’t give away the ending. You will have to read for yourself to find out if Middleton and Charlotte end up together in the end.

This novel is loosely based on historical facts as Goodwin describes in the afterword to the novel. All the characters in the novel are real as are the essential facts.

If this sounds interesting, you may also enjoy:
Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold
America 1900 by Judy Crichton
The House and Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

Review By:  Heidi Herald