Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Woman of Substance” as Want to Read:
A Woman of Substance
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Woman of Substance (Emma Harte Saga #1)

by
4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  30,376 Ratings  ·  565 Reviews
A celebration of an indomitable spirit, here is New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford's dazzling saga of a woman who dared to dream--and to triumph against all odds...

In the brooding moors above a humble Yorkshire village stood Fairley Hall. There, Emma Harte, its oppressed but resourceful servant girl, acquired a shrewd determination. There, she honed
...more
Paperback, 928 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 1979)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Woman of Substance, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Alexa Yes, but if you are in the mood and are into a Cinderella story , it's a great read. Also, a must for ereaders due to the amount of vocabulary used by…moreYes, but if you are in the mood and are into a Cinderella story , it's a great read. Also, a must for ereaders due to the amount of vocabulary used by author. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Annie Myers
This is a very long, verbose book that has a good story buried among its endless descriptions of, well, just about everything. This book left a lot of unanswered questions in my mind, and there were a lot of times when I was skimming through the long, boring descriptions of Emma's furniture and
china and walls and clothes and the color of the sky and the degree of greyness of the clouds - ack!! The interactions between the characters were generally quite good, but it was like slogging through mu
...more
Ria Romero
Feb 27, 2011 Ria Romero rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
Magnificent, a spellbinding saga in life
Advantages: truly captivating, can boost your will
Disadvantages: none

A bestselling book by Barbara Taylor-Bradford, A woman of substance is a spellbinding saga in life that will instill within your heart, the will and drive to succeed. This is the first of the six novels about Emma Harte and her family, among others are Hold the Dream, To be the Best, Emma's Secret, Unexpected Blessings and Just Rewards. A Woman of Substance is really one of the best novel
...more
Suzanne
I think this is the first grown up book I read. I recall reading it in bed when I was having a sleepover at my aunts and uncles house when my parents were away. If I needed babysitting perhaps I was to young to be reading this?! I do want to re-read this though. Those were the days of reading whenever and however. Nice to reminisce. I wonder if this is like Danielle Steele?! Which I do like of course!
Carlin Hauck
I'm not entirely certain how I feel about A Woman of Substance. It was a NYT Bestseller in the 1970s, so I feel like the writing style, etc was a bit dated. My main complaints were that the author loved to use big, impressive words and described everything in super detail. I'm all for using good vocab, but sometimes a simple word does the job best. Also, the dialogue seemed a bit forced and unnatural, and the main character HAD NO FAULTS. None. Except that she was born poor. It was kind of irrit ...more
Bookscmc
Jun 16, 2009 Bookscmc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My all-time favorite book/story.

I will re-read and re-read this book time and again.

The beginning of a large saga, this book captures the hearts of anyone who loves a great story and one with a young girl named Emma who has a "Plan with a capital P." Emma stays true to her plan and in the meantime we are learning all about her and her circumstances as a young child in poverty. Emma's strength and willpower is inspiring.

Anyone who has a dream of their own will enjoy reading about a young woman w
...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jul 25, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Who Love Trashy Books
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
I love historical fiction, and to my mind there aren't enough that focus on the drama of building a business, so the premise of this appealed to me. It's the rag to riches story of a British woman who went from lowly maid to powerful head of a business empire in the early 20th century when women weren't by and large able to rise to such heights.

However, the writing style here was puerile romance aisle, and far too wretched to make me willing to stay with this for over 900 trade paperback pages.
...more
Joyce
Feb 21, 2014 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when it was first published and considered it one of my favorites and a "I must read this book again." Now some 40 years later I have begun to read the series again I have not been disappointed. Yes it is a long book, yes there are long descriptive passages of furniture and clothing, but all of this should remind the reader of the time period in which Emma, her friends, her opponents and her family live. A time not like today but a woman who would most likely succeed in today's ...more
Maxine
Aug 05, 2011 Maxine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Far too long. Far too much "colloquial dialect" in the parts dealing with Emma's young life. If edited, the story could be better, but still not really memorable.This book even contains some very surprising grammatical errors (which were obviously not intentional, as those in Emma and her family's tedious dialect were)

The seduction scene in the cave drags on and on until one thinks the characters will be to old to act upon their desires. Hardly necessary devote that much time leading up to the o
...more
Alison
May 21, 2013 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have given other books 5 stars in the past, but this one TRULY deserves it. My mother read this book when it first came out in the late 70's and she still says it was one of her favorite books. She has told me a few times over the years to read it and I always read something different - thinking that a book that was almost as old as I am couldn't possibly be worth the time. I was wrong. However, you aren't going to find a Kindle edition and you're not going to find it in the book section at BJ ...more
Joshua
Aug 10, 2015 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Woman of Substance Is a meticulously plotted, extensively detailed, verbose and sometimes tedious saga, that overall comes to a satisfying conclusion.


The novel spans over 50 + years, following Emma from rags-to-riches, as she basically builds an enterprise from the ground up.

The character of Emma is a strong one. She's a calloused, strong willed, business woman at her core. She doesn't allow anyone to take advantage of her or mistreat her, including the men in her life, which is a huge thing
...more
Erin
When I first began reading this book, I didn't think I was going to be able to make it through. There were a few things this author did that caused me some minor annoyances. It was hard to develop any true feeling toward Emma in the beginning of the book because many of her thoughts seemed contradictory. The beginning is really slow going. Also, this author likes to make extremely long-winded descriptions of interiors, which I find detract from the plot, especially when a character is ruminating ...more
Holly
Aug 10, 2012 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I flat out, wholeheartedly love this book. Both the plucky Emma Hart and the sweep of 50 years of history make this a leap-from-the-pages saga. Emma's battle from poverty to high-powered business woman is a dramatic, sensational story and Bradford's prose captures Yorkshire in gorgeously. Anyone who loves a big, breathtaking story will love this. (Also, it's the best of the bunch. Hold the Dream isn't nearly as good, nor are any if its other sequels)
Bria
Aug 10, 2014 Bria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book boiled down to two words: boring and aggravating.
The plot and book description initially sold me in this book, but I lost interest very quickly when the plot was covered by endless adjectives and praises about the main character, Emma Harte.
It was completely unnecessary and annoying to have the author blab on and on about how great Emma is. How she is a genius, and how she suddenly went from being described as slightly attractive to so beautiful everybody who met her just had to have
...more
kingshearte
Jun 21, 2011 kingshearte rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, unfinished
36 pages of insufferably bad writing was enough to convince me that I would not make it through 910 pages of it. Everything described in such minute detail, with adverbs piled on adjectives piled on multiple subordinate clauses in every sentence. Everything told; nothing shown. It's maddening. A few reviews seem to suggest that it gets at least marginally better after the first section, but I just can't do it. I also gather that the story itself is half decent, so maybe if someone makes a mini-s ...more
Suzanne
Aug 07, 2013 Suzanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I stayed up later than I usually do in order to finish this book, not because I was riveted, but because I just couldn't stomach one more evening spent on it. It's so long. Length is not itself a deterrent for me, but when it's so much unnecessary length of so little substance (heh...irony), it becomes tedious. I don't need to know everything everyone wore on every occasion. I get it. She's pretty and dresses better than everyone else could possibly hope to dress. Save the detailed descriptions ...more
Leslie Kay
Long and indulgent. Way too many words. And it makes me sad that there isn't a moral compass for the characters in the book. "Paul had patiently explained to her that their combined wealth set them above the usual conventions, making them invulnerable to social censure, and she admitted the truth in what he said. Her natural self-confidence and courage soon overcame her earlier misgivings."


"Tell me, did you discover anything special along the way that you would like to impart to your old friend
...more
Jane
Dec 19, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember the TV series adapted from Barbara Taylor Bradford's novel with Jenny Seagrove in the lead role. It was a good adaptation if memory serves correctly. It is only now many years later that I have finally read the book.
For that time Emma Harte is something of a woman holding the fort in a man's world. Yes, she had enemies but she had friends too who respected her brains, acute business acumen and sheer willpower. In present day she could be compared to many successful businesswomen. Born
...more
Faith
Mar 04, 2012 Faith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women of any age
I thought this was a great book! It was so good that I read the series. While the rest of the series didn't equal this one, it was still a fine series. Emma Harte is a once in a lifetime character. Her story was well done, the other characters were superbly written and I couldn't put id down. I have re-read this book several times over the years and just recently recommended it to my daughter. The story has everything - love, friendship, fear, loathing, heartbreak. While I was reading it was as ...more
Kathryn Yaste
May 14, 2013 Kathryn Yaste rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up, 2013
I didn't finish this book. I gave it about 150 pages,and it showed no signs of getting any better. If anything, the writing got more redundant and florid. Everything is over described, the characters are flat, and they seem to just randomly feel and think things that are completely unconnected from the plot, such as it is. Dorothy Parker once said about a book that it should not be put aside lightly, rather, thrown with great force. Amen.
Karen
Feb 22, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Got fully hooked on this story. Can't believe I didn't read it years ago.
Lynda
Jan 18, 2016 Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this novel. It is set in England from the early 1900's to 1968. The book was published in the 70's and was one of the world's top bestsellers, translated into many languages. The reader follows the heroine, Emma Harte, as she goes through life's peaks and troughs. We are inspired by her determination to succeed, her beauty and her business-savviness. Curling up with this book on a rainy day, being transported into a bygone era and a world in which the protag ...more
Tracy
Dec 23, 2015 Tracy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting story but too slow for me. I am going to set it aside for now....
Maggie
This book was realistic fiction at its finest. I felt the "nod" of previous works such as Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, even short stories like "The Yellow Wallpaper"... then put that in a blender with 80s classics like Dallas and Dynasty and you have this fabulous book. This isn't a work for everyone - the early parts of the book are intensely descriptive, again like those great British literature works, listed above, so there is great description of the sweeping moors, t ...more
Debby
I can remember reading this book when I was a very young and impressionable girl. Emma Harte became my personal hero. I so admired her strength...how she climbed out of poverty and being wronged by a man. That she grew an empire with her wit and determination inspired me to become my own Woman of Substance. I never became as rich as Emma Harte, but this book has stuck in my memory. I think this story left a very deep impression on me. Emma Harte epitomizes a lot of my youth. I never grew as rich ...more
Sheila Bennett
Mar 12, 2009 Sheila Bennett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book several years ago, and still think about the characters at times. The main character begins life as a servant to a wealthy family, falls in love with one of the sons and becomes pregnant. While pregnant, she leaves that household and moves to a city to start life on her own with her new baby. Beginning with a small food market, she is able to build a large empire and becomes an extremely wealthy woman. Near the end of her life, she wishes for her granddaughter to take over the bus ...more
lia
Mar 15, 2012 lia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family-saga
Emma Harte is the owner of retail empire and one of the richest woman in the world.

Rising from a humble beginning as a servant in rural Yorkshire, Emma's fate change when he falls in love with the son of the manor and fell pregnant and the said son (named Edwin) refused to take responsibility.

What starts as owning one shop as a mean of survival, soon develop into two, three and in few years expanding into an empire.

Though her business expanded beyond her wildest dream, her personal life is in
...more
Samantha
Jan 23, 2015 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very long saga but I did enjoy it! Another engaging read that kept me engrossed in a strong female character! Lengthy but since I'm a fast reader it was kind of nice to stretch something out over more then a week.
Sugandha Aggarwal
Saw it as a TV series when I was barely 10. Giving me inspiration ever since. I read the book in class 11th. Re-read it again a couple of years later.Some say it's long, I say it's not enough. loved the chemistry between edwin and Emma and again Paul and Emma. Hated the husbands in between. The jars of homemade jam, the betrayal by Edwin, the scene up in the mountains between Edwin and Emma, the friendship with Blackie, the assault by Edwin's brother, the death of the father, all still fresh in ...more
Maegan Thomas
Jul 21, 2015 Maegan Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is honestly one of the BEST books I have ever read, and I am an avid reader.
It tells the story of one woman's entire life, which might not sound all that entertaining but it was absolutely riveting. I loved the language at the beginning of the book and then watching that language develop with the main character's education and with the progression of time. The characters were the sort that you will not be able to shake, it is a powerful and impactful book that you will not soon forget. Tak
...more
Heather
The prose is a bit overblown at times, and the story's a bit dated, but then, it was written in the late '70's, so that's not too surprising. The bigger problem I had was with the characters. Or, with the main character, Emma Harte. I didn't find much to like in Emma. While she certainly had some justification for her anger towards the Fairley family, or at least towards Edwin and Gerald, she carried a misconceived anger against the family from the start, and even at the end when she learned som ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 3 Mar 29, 2015 06:11PM  
What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Series about 7-8 books [s] 5 70 Sep 16, 2014 05:13AM  
reveiw 18 85 Dec 23, 2013 04:36AM  
  • Evergreen
  • Scruples
  • Queenie
  • Captains and the Kings
  • Sins of the Fathers
  • The Immigrants (Lavette Family, #1)
  • And Ladies of the Club
  • Deceptions
  • Low Country
  • Beulah Land (Beulah Land, #1)
  • Heaven and Hell (North and South, #3)
  • Rich Man, Poor Man
  • Once Is Not Enough
  • The Shell Seekers
5353
Barbara Taylor Bradford is the author of 30 bestselling novels, including The Cavendon Women, Cavendon Hall, and The Ravenscar Dynasty. She was born in Leeds, England, and from an early age, she was a voracious reader: at age 12, she had already read all of Dickens and the Brontë sisters. By the age of twenty, she was an editor and columnist on Fleet Street. She published her first novel, A Woman ...more
More about Barbara Taylor Bradford...

Other Books in the Series

Emma Harte Saga (7 books)
  • Hold the Dream (Emma Harte Saga #2)
  • To Be the Best  (Emma Harte Saga #3)
  • Emma's Secret (Emma Harte Saga #4)
  • Unexpected Blessings (Emma Harte Saga #5)
  • Just Rewards (Emma Harte Saga #6)
  • Breaking the Rules (Emma Harte Saga #7)

Share This Book



“We are each the authors of our own lives, Emma. We live in what we have created. There is no way to shift the blame and no one else to accept the accolades.” 1679 likes
“Life always gets harder towards the summit - the cold increases, responsibility increases” 24 likes
More quotes…