Original publish date: 30 July 2014
Longing for a Jane Austen-esque story that has a bit more of a modernized feel? I know that I was struggling to find a read that was similar to Austen that I hadn’t already devoured after high school or undergrad. With The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin, the lifestyles and social issues that were prevalent in Austen’s novels are revived with touches of newer technology with photography and historical relevance to interest a broader spectrum of reader.
20 year old Charlotte Baird is the heiress to the Lennox fortune who has yet to be introduced to society for marriage consideration. Her elder brother Fred looks after her and her fortune as their parents are deceased, and as a man about to be wed, he enjoys being able to live off the funds of Charlotte’s fortune. With her fortune, it is inevitable that some men will be interested in wooing her in attempts to earn that fortune for themselves. When Charlotte meets Captain Bay Middleton, she is charmed by his easy speaking and love for his horse, Tipsy. He is likewise charmed by her lack of interest in ladylike activities and instead intrigued by her conviction for photography.
Bay Middleton, however, is known in society as a ladies’ man so Fred doesn’t feel that he’s an appropriate match for Charlotte. Bay’s character is brought into question further when he is chosen to be the pilot to the Empress of Austria, Elizabeth, the most beautiful woman in Europe, during the fox hunts that throw them together and brings questions of their affections toward one another and causes some discord between Bay and Charlotte. The love quadrangle in this story is one that I can actually tolerate over contemporary love triangles/quadrangles, perhaps because of the more “proper” nature of it that feels tied to the conventions of the late 1800s rather than the overly emotionally driven love triangles common today.
The third person omniscient point of view seems quite like a roving camera that we might be familiar with from television shows and movies. Being able to know the thoughts and motivations behind the various characters involved helps to flesh out the story and foster a better understanding of the characters, despite their overall unlikableness. There were several instances of typographical spacing and grammatical errors, particularly with duplicated words in incorrect spots, but as this was an advance readers copy, I can more easily overlook these issues as the story was able to keep my rapt attention.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.