Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: "The Fortune Hunter" by Daisy Goodwin

The Fortune Hunter is an interesting tale that twines the lives of the famously beautiful Elizabeth of Austria (or ‘Sisi’ as she was known to her familiars), Captain “Bay” Middleton, and his fiancée Charlotte Baird.

Loosely based on historical fact, the novel opens with Charlotte, a plain girl in possession of a great inheritance. As such, she is a prize on the marriage market, but getting married is the last thing on her mind. Her obsession with the burgeoning art of photography is what holds her attention, much to her brother’s chagrin. When she comes into contact with Captain Middleton, she is swayed by his charm and is soon promising to marry him. Middleton is not unaware of her fortune, but truly cares for his fiancée and her various quirks. As a well known ladies man and superior horse rider, he is soon tapped to play pilot to visiting royalty--Sisi--and wrapped into her spell of beauty and mystique.

Ms. Goodwin excels at creating flawed but sympathetic characters. Even though Bay’s behavior is spoiled and self-serving, he still displays guilt at betraying Charlotte, the real woman of his heart. Charlotte is virtuous without being annoying. As for Sisi, she is cast into the role of usurper of Bay’s affections, which could easily spoil the reader’s perception of her. But instead, she comes across as sad--a woman who fleeing from her royal responsibilities all while still expecting full and undivided loyalty.

In short, The Fortune Hunter is an interesting read. And just look at that cover! While I did not like it as much as The American Heiress, it is still worth the read. And now I want to visit Vienna even more! Apparently Schonbrunn Palace has a whole Sisi Museum complete with the empress’s original clothing. Very cool!

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