The Fortune Hunter
By: Daisy Goodwin
Format/Source: galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley
Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as “Sisi,” is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.
Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that threatens the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and all of their futures.
I first heard of this novel in passing I believe in a list of “books to watch out for in 2014.” So when I saw the book on NetGalley, I had to check it out. Ever since I went to Austria a few years ago, I’ve been curious about the Austrian monarchy and Sisi; she’s not really mentioned much in the general European history courses and from what I saw at the Schonbrunn exhibit, she was quite the fashionable monarch of her time with a very interesting life. So I was quite happy when I was approved a copy of this novel to read.
Unfortunately after several chapters, I had to put it down. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on exactly; it felt like a parade of characters, I didn’t find Captain Bay Middleton very interesting, and it was like moving through the busy pump rooms of the 19th century. The opening chapter did not grab my attention enough to carry on and subsequent chapters left me feeling equally indifferent. Given this and the stack of books on my to-read pile that are also waiting to be read, I sadly had to put it down. I may change my mind in the future and pick this book up again, but for now it’s left as a DNF for me.
This book will be available on 10 July 2014.