I was very excited to get an advance copy of Daisy Goodwin’s The Fortune Hunter ahead of its release in paperback on the 28th – as I really enjoyed her debut novel My Last Duchess (which I passed straight on to my mum who liked it too).
I’ve had trouble coming up with a plot summary for this that doesn’t give too much away, so I’m settling for the blurb:
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.
Now I didn’t know a lot about Sisi before I read this book – so I can’t tell you how close to what actually happened this is. What I can tell you is that I really enjoyed reading this book – loved the characters and spent a large portion of the book knowing that it wasn’t going to turn out right for everyone, but hoping against hope that it might.
I galloped through this (sorry, couldn’t resist a horse pun in a book where so much is centred around riding) in about 3 and a half train journeys. I’m not a horse rider or a hunting fan, but I still found the book enthralling and the horse-y sections were were engaging and easy for a non rider to follow. There were also some lovely details in this – I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Queen Victoria and John Brown.
The Historical Note at the end explained some of the liberties taken by the author with reality and the book left me wanting to know more about the real Sisi and the Hapsburgs – and sent me googling on a variety of characters and hunting for biographies of various people. It also made me want to re-read My Last Duchess – so I’ll have to dig out my copy of that too. I’ve passed this straight on to my mum – which is always a sign of a good book in this genre. I look forward to seeing what Goodwin comes up with next
The Fortune Hunter is out in paperback on the 28th of August and should be available in all good book shops like Waterstones and Foyles although I could only find a link to the hardback on their website – but if you can’t wait you could buy that now – as you can the Kindle edition.