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.
Full of passion and drama, The Fortune Hunter tells the true story of a nineteenth century Queen of Hearts and a cavalry captain, and the struggle between love and duty.
Goodwin crafts a well written historical fiction love triangle with intriguing characters. The diversity of the characters gives this love triangle a certain amount of added punch.
I found myself playing armchair psychologist to the characters simply because Goodwin provides the reader with enough scant information you want to delve in and explore what makes them tick and explain their choices and actions.
Charlotte Baird is endearing, appealing and a woman ahead of her time. As much as Goodwin built up Charlotte’s characterization, I admit I was surprised by her behavior as the story progressed. Let’s just say the way Charlotte was presented left me questioning a few of her moves as well as a few unanswered questions I was hoping would be addressed but weren’t. Empress Elizabeth wasn’t revealed as much as I was hoping for, however Goodwin painted enough of a picture of the woman she was and the burdens she carried. Despite her station and marital status I felt empathy and fondness towards her. Bay Middleton, a gentleman with an affinity towards married women, at least it appears so. His indecisiveness, focus on beauty more than substance was a turn off. He came across too many times searching to be rescued, weak, a ‘ladies man’ – I wasn’t quite sold. Admittedly, despite his many warts there is something about him that pulls at your heart.
Goodwin excels with creating a wonderful setting. She nails the era, social propriety, manners, language masterfully. Her research was complete but the alteration of facts didn’t work for me. I understand this is a work of fiction, keep in mind drastically altering major historical facts diminishes the narrative and purpose.
The end caught me by surprise. I was convinced Goodwin would take a different path, her choice left me astonished. I felt the ending didn’t fully match the characterization, perhaps this was her intent but it certainly caught me off guard.
Good story, if the historical facts weren’t so manipulated the story would have been great. Goodwin demonstrates creativity, solid writing, intriguing characters and I look forward to her future projects.