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The Fortune Hunter: A Novel
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The Fortune Hunter: A Novel

4.0 45
by Daisy Goodwin

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The Fortune Hunter, the New York Times bestselling novel by Daisy Goodwin, is a lush, irresistible story of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures.

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,


The Fortune Hunter, the New York Times bestselling novel by Daisy Goodwin, is a lush, irresistible story of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures.

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 jeopardizes the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and threatens all of their futures.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“One of the most compelling and entertaining historical novels I've ever read. . . .The Fortune Hunter will sweep you away.” —Liz Smith, The Boston Herald

“Public Service Announcement. . . this gorgeous novel is the perfect storm of escapism, suspense, romance and superb historical research.” —The Times, UK

“Finely drawn characters and intriguing plot lines. . . Readers who enjoyed The American Heiress will be first in line to savor Goodwin's new novel, [and] they will be followed quickly by others who appreciate engaging and thoughtful historical fiction.” —Library Journal, starred review

“Goodwin manages to take the reader deep inside the characters' longings and flaws in a way that makes the reader root for them. An enchanting, beautifully written page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly

“A luxurious indulgence. . . .Goodwin writes with effortless grace, and her dialogue's subtle wit is delightful. Each of her three protagonists commands attention and sympathy, which heightens the story's poignancy. Charlotte's levelheaded personality remains unaffected by her wealth or her relatives' dependence on it, and Bay is movingly torn between duty and his sense of self-worth. Finally, despite her outlandish regimen for maintaining her complexion and ankle-length chestnut tresses, Elizabeth is never less than beguiling.” —Booklist

“With its witty dialogue, intriguing research and cameo appearances by Queen Victoria and other royals, Goodwin's latest is a pleasurable excursion into Downton-land complete with high-society weddings, lavish balls and an exciting, all-or-nothing horse-racing finale.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A sumptuous, scrumptious confection, with country houses, Austrian Empresses and Victorian glamour galore.” —Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces

“Daisy Goodwin has triumphed again. In The Fortune Hunter she weaves a rich and textured tale of desire and ambition. Sizzling with energy and passion on every page, Goodwin's characters compel the reader to fall in love with them.” —Amanda Foreman, author of the New York Times bestsellers GEORGIANA and A WORLD ON FIRE

“Anyone suffering Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms will find an instant tonic in Goodwin's deliciously evocative novel.” —Allison Pearson, author of New York Times bestseller I Don't Know How She Does It, on The American Heiress

“Goodwin...writes deliciously.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times, on The American Heiress

“Top-notch writing brings to life the world of wealth on both sides of the Atlantic. This debut's strong character development and sense of place will please fans of historical romance, including book club members.” —Library Journal, starred review, on The American Heiress

“A shrewd, spirited historical romance…Superior entertainment.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred) on The American Heiress

After her bestselling debut The American Heiress, Daisy Goodwin returns with another captivating historical novel, this one the dramatic story of a nineteenth century love triangle entangling "Sisi" (more properly, "Elizabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary"); a handsome, but impoverished British horseman; and a resourceful young heiress. In The Fortune Hunter, all three emerge as real people, perhaps the enigmatic real-life wife of Franz Joseph I most of all.

Library Journal
★ 06/01/2014
Despite Charlotte Baird's unconventional devotion to photography and her lack of beauty, she has many suitors because of the fortune she will inherit. Her brother's fiancée wants Charlotte's marriage to enhance the family's social standing. Enter Bay Middleton, renowned for his success with both horses and women despite his lack of money or title. Is he merely another fortune hunter, or does he value her other attributes? Charlotte and Bay's complex relationship drives the plot, which becomes more complicated when Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) of Austria comes to England to escape Vienna's stifling court life and pursue her passion for hunting. Serving as Sisi's pilot on hunts, Bay admires both her superb riding skills and her beauty. Eventually they become lovers but never equals. VERDICT Goodwin uses finely drawn characters and intriguing plot lines to create numerous memorable scenes such as when the empress, accompanied by Bay, visits and exchanges polite but pointed barbs with Queen Victoria. Although readers who enjoyed The American Heiress will be first in line to savor Goodwin's new novel, they will be followed quickly by others who appreciate engaging and thoughtful historical fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 1/26/14.]—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

DAISY GOODWIN is a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University's film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University. She is a book reviewer for London's The Times and was chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. The Fortune Hunter is Daisy's second novel, following the New York Times bestseller The American Heiress.

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The Fortune Hunter 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
irishclaireKG More than 1 year ago
A Readable Guilty Pleasure But Disappointing. With the pre-publication hype and the author's reputation, I was surprised to find this really just a beach read wrapped up with a very high pedigree. While based on historical events surrounding the early lives of the Austrian Empress and Victorian socialites Charlotte Baird and Bay Middleton, I found much of this flat--and the Empress a largely one dimensional character. For supposedly being a major third of an overwrought love triangle, she ended up striking me as little more than a convenient obstacle to the Bay-Charlotte affair, to prove that rulers are often lonely as well as manipulative and to show Bay's womanizing manners are not entirely unlike the Empress' sometimes underhanded tactics. I left the book with no more feeling or understanding of her than I did at the start. Charlotte shows signs of spunk in her love of photography, feeling the burden of her inheritance and being under the thumb of her boorish brother plus the smothering expectations of Victorian England; her attraction to unsuitable Bay plays into that rebellion, but ultimately, Charlotte falls into the typical romantic heroine trap of being dumb in the wake of a handsome man. Bay is a cad I never warmed to; a lot of readers will argue that, and I can see where it's debatable, but for me, his character was clear early on; his later behavior solidified that conclusion for me, and I spent the rest of the novel hoping he'd get a comeuppance. Whether he does or not is also up for debate. I found the ending rushed, rather silly, and myself shrugging with the thought, "of course." Animal lovers--beware--while the fox hunting scenes are not horribly graphic, (but I found way too long), they are present and if, like me, you find blood sports repugnant--your mind won't be changed. The steeple-chasing sequence also reconfirmed my loathing of such 'sport.' Lovely cover, generally well written, but ultimately, I think I was looking for something more than the now horribly familiar 'Downton Abbey' (the cover actually looks a bit like Lady Mary come to think of it) re-imagining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I did enjoy Goodwin's The American Heiress, it was never at the top of my favorites. However, this book was by far better! You really become invested in the characters. I finished it in a day because I just could not put it down! If you enjoyed The American Heiress at all, you will LOVE this book!! I definitely recommend it!
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Although this novel is classified as a biographical novel, I believe this is only partially true. Yes, Empress Cisi is one of several main characters, but the book is truly about a romance between the fictionalized characters, Captain Bay Middleton and Charlotte Biard. Cisi's life is only partially, and not thoroughly depicted. Having said this, I truly enjoyed this novel. It was well written, lush in its descriptions of the era as it pertained to surroundings, fashion, and glamour, and poignant enough to capture my interest until the very last page. The author did an excellent job of describing traditional fox hunts and equestrian skills. I especially enjoyed the quippy and comical interactions with Queen Victoria. Although I'm not sure that the story adheres to historical facts, it does not take away from the enjoyment of the novel. The story gains momentum as it nears a very satisfying ending.As long as readers are aware this isn't a true to form biographical novel about Empress Elisabeth, there is much to recommend this wonderful story. 
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
The Fortune Hunter introduced a few historical characters that I was not too familiar with, Sisi (the Empress of Austria) especially. Sisi is known as the most beautiful woman in Europe, but she is miserable and lonely - which leads her to come to England to enjoy the hunting season. Sisi was quite the fascinating figure - at the same time very observant of protocol and traditions, but shunning them at the same time. She was obsessed with her looks and insisted on keeping people close that would ensure she had her way. This may sound like quite an unpleasant person, but when she was happy - the world seemed happy. Everyone around her would share in it. Charlotte and Bay are our other two main characters. Charlotte is the heiress to quite the fortune has several hunters out for her hand in marriage because of it. She is an avid photographer, and from the description and reactions in the book, she was quite skilled in the art as well. She, too, was an interesting contrast in characteristics, being both naive and world-wise at the same time. Her favored suitor Bay causes all sorts of trouble by catching the eye of the Empress. The Empress insists that he attend her at all times, and this drives a significant wedge between him and Charlotte. This wedge was something he would have to work quite hard at pulling out and regaining her trust and affection. I loved how Daisy Goodwin made her characters so life like. The nobles were quite full of themselves and their traditions and rules, while everyone else was tasked with making their lives easier. That was just the way of the world and you could really feel that on every page. There is a very strong romance that flows through the story, but it is not all happy endings for our three main characters. Having said that, the ending was very climatic and beautifully written. I was sure quite a few times that the worst was going to happen, but it realistically (yet miraculously) turned around and did something quite unexpected. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
Sue5 More than 1 year ago
The audio book was a let down for me.  I just didn't care for the reader.  I may just stick to books.
Cupid More than 1 year ago
Just OK. A novel created around historical figures that falls flat. Was expecting more from this author & felt that there could have been a story of greater depth created than what was written. The initial premise of a rapscallion finally falling for a average-looking heiress for pure reasons draws you in and you wonder if he's genuinely in love with her as he infers, but there is much too little written about their courtship for them to be accepted as an engaged couple. An alternate title for this book could have been MUst Love Horses because those are the only readers that I envision enjoying the tedious descriptions of horse riding and fox hunts that makes up the majority of this book. And speaking of horses, the author beats a dead one in reiterating what a tremendous horsewoman the Empress of Austria is, to the point where you want to scream "She's a great horse rider. We get it already!!" At about page 200, you find yourself reading cheesy porn dialogue between Bay Middleton and the Empress that leaves you nauseated and questioning why you're still reading this book. There are many grammatical errors and typos in the Nook version of this book. The author's character portrayal of Charlotte Baird and Bay Middleton are weak, although the more enjoyable chapters are the ones from Charlotte's perspective. Bay ends up an unlikeable character and hard to believe. On one hand he has a strong moral character, on the other he has no problem cheating with married women, having children out of wedlock, professing love and loyalty to one person because he can see her true character and still sleep with another woman. It required discipline to continue reading this book but I will say that the plot and pace do get better in the last third of the book, which is the only reason I give this book a second star.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It started out good--was quite interesting--but then it started to drag towards the end. I skipped about 3 chapters, right to the last chapter, and didn't feel I'd missed a thing. I also wasn't sad when I had finished it. (Good, I can move on to something more interesting!)
jpcoggins More than 1 year ago
What a fun read!  This book really surprised me, even more than the American heiress did.  Even though it involves historical people, they were all so vivid and likable in ms. Goodwin's hands.  Like a real horse race, I found myself cheering for different riders and horses throughout the story.  I can easily give this book a strong recommendation!
tracyw More than 1 year ago
I love a good story spun around horses and fox hunting. I had to pace my reading so the story wouldn't end so soon. Even while reading slow, the story was over way too fast. I had the feeling of jumping the hedges and coops when the field was in hot pursuit. The detail was that in depth. If you love horses and love stories, you must read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
capeto2 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Daisy Goodwin's The American Heiress, so I thought I would go wth this. This was a really good book, and I had no idea I was reading about real people. I flew through this book and immediately had to google the actual people!
staceylynn688 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this story! Goodwin did a wonderful job of making you feel happiness, sorrow, and hatred towards the main characters (except for Charlotte, whom you could not help but root for the entire time). I am sad I finished this story so quickly, as I greatly enjoyed every page.
AustenStudent More than 1 year ago
I have ambivalent feelings about this book, based on real life historical figures. Daisy Goodwin writes a beautifully complex story in a clear, readable, and austere style that drew me right into the story. Expertly narrated by Clare Corbett, the lives of these three complex individuals are fascinating and engrossing and come alive. Captain Bay Middleton is an expert horseman who also has a weakness for women and forbidden affairs. What begins as a conquest and an exciting and illicit affair with the Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria eventually almost turns into one of captivity as he lives in fear of disobliging her. He covertly sends messages and will always be beneath her station despite their intimacy. Even as he embarks on his affair with Sisi, Bay remains very interested in Charlotte Baird, a young and intelligent heiress. He is attracted to her and seeks her good opinion, and makes efforts to stay in touch with her. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want to close off any of his options and desperately wants to be well-liked and well thought of by everyone he meets. He is likeable but weak, a bit like the rakish Henry Crawford in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. I really liked Charlotte. Her strength and innocence, yet clever intuition and knowledge keep her head above water even as her heart breaks. Her charming and colorful American friend, Casper Hughes, helps ease her fears and bolsters her confidence as they prepare for the London photographic exhibition with her beloved and dynamic godmother, Lady Dunwoody. Clare Corbett reads Casper and Lady Dunwoody with verve; her reading of Casper, especially, made me smile. Their friendship is lovely and true. Too bad she couldn’t find a passionate happiness with him instead. Charlotte’s stuffy older brother, Fred, and his sniping fiancée, Augusta, are boors and brown nosers, desperate to keep their control over Charlotte and, thus, her fortune. They appear to be the real fortune hunters of this novel. Clare Corbett reads Augusta with a perfect high-pitched, shrill voice that grates on Charlotte’s (and the reader’s) nerves.  The vivid descriptions of the sport of fox hunting, the culture of horsemanship, the new art of photography, the atmosphere of an upper class country house party, and the intricacies of diplomacy and etiquette with foreign dignitaries are brought to life. Historic figures of the time also make an appearance: Queen Victoria and her servant and companion, John Brown, and the Earl of Spencer. The question of an affair between Bay and Sisi is just that. Questionable. But history always mentions a “reputed” affair. Bay is a man to both like and dislike. He’s a man with flaws who loves women. Unfortunately, he hurts them as well with his lack of singular devotion. I was on edge the entire novel as I knew what was coming; I simultaneously looked forward to and dreaded it.  Charlotte is an innocent, but she’s not stupid. I liked that  Goodwin conveyed both her curiosity and her sensibility. Bay is the first man to capture her interest but she is determined to find her own happiness within the limits of her class and society. I admire her skill at photography and her loving relationship with her godmother; she has allies and friends. I got the feeling she would be just fine no matter what. Sisi is a tragic figure. Beautiful, lonely, and in a loveless marriage, she seeks happiness wherever she can take it. I felt sorry for her yet I also disliked her because I liked Charlotte more. This is why I am ambivalent about this story. Perhaps it is because I listened to the book read aloud and Sisi’s voice began to grate after awhile and her actions seem desperate. Bay is attracted to Sisi but he still wants Charlotte and this bothers me.  I think the ending a little quick, romantic, and fanciful and I don’t think Charlotte could have been happy long-term with Bay. And that is perhaps the saddest thing of all. An exceptionally well written and entertaining novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is based on some historical facts. The book makes you want to find out more about the actual people who lived this story. Writing is excellent. Recommended to all who enjoy good historical fiction. Another excellent novel on the NOOK is The Partisan by William Jarvis. This historical novel is also based on actual events. It just won an Indie Medalian Award. Both books deserve A+++++++++
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A historical fiction set in England, but the royal monarchs do not take center stage and I liked it!  Don't get me wrong, I love the crazy stories of the monarchs, but in this instance, I loved hearing about England with Queen Victoria just making a few appearances and life at court was just visited.  Instead a family with a very young heiress who has lost both her parents and is having her older brother controlling her state of affairs and a lowly Captain trying to win her affections while being distracted by the Empress of Austria - it was great. With quite a hefty page count, don't let that fool you with this book.  I absolutely whizzed through this story at an alarming pace and was completely engrossed in this story quickly.  I loved the young heiress who will eventually have wealth to her name, but at the time she can't access any of it and she watches her brother and soon to be sister-in-law enjoy living off her and this Captain who actually cares for her and not the money that she has coming to her.  It was a sweet love story with some fantastic twists and turns.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little too cheesy love story for me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting, sometimes people moved in and out with seems to be no true purpose. Meant more to me and was eaiser to understand after I had looked up main characters to get their backgrounds.
birdie80 More than 1 year ago
Daisy Goodwin has only just begun writing books and I can hardly wait for the 3rd!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great subject but failed to keep my attention - it was just okay.