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A Woman of Substance

(Emma Harte Saga #1)

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  36,805 ratings  ·  736 reviews

In celebration of its thirtieth anniversary, here is the novel that started it all: New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradfords dazzling saga of a woman who dared to dreamand to triumph against all odds. . . .

On the brooding moors above a humble Yorkshire village stood Fairley Hall. There, Emma Harte, its oppressed but resourceful servant girl, acquired a

...more
Paperback, 832 pages
Published May 1st 1980 by Avon Books (first published 1979)
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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)

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Julie
A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford is a 2014 RosettaBooks publication. (originally published in 1979)

A Classic saga that stands the test of time-

This is the story of Emma Harte, a poverty ridden young woman employed by a wealthy family, who eventually works her way to the top of a rich and powerful business empire. Her personal disappointments, hardships, loves and losses all play a role in solidifying Emmas fortitude, as her instincts for human nature develops, helping her to
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Diane Wallace
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great series! one of the best novels in print...had to reread it a few times because it was that good,the storyline was well developed along with all the characters. The plotline showed emotional turmoil for its main character (Emma)because it was too much on her family...kudos to the movie also
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
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Ria Romero
Feb 26, 2011 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
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Linda Hart
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LOVED IT!!
One of my all-time favorite books, IT CHANGED MY LIFE.
I read it 30 years ago in my bookclub and I am currently re-reading it. I read the series, each about the next generation of the Harte family, and enjoyed them immensely, but each book stands alone with satisfying endings.
A friend described it as a "delicious read," which is an apt description. Another friend refers to as "your biblical guide for attaining excellence."

I remember devouring every page as I learned more about the
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Tahera
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have definitely read this book but remember only bits and pieces of the story maybe because I skipped some parts of the book to get to the end of it, not because it was bad but because the book was very long for the teenage me to complete properly. Giving it a 3* for the bits I remember reading and who knows might give it a go again.
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!
Bookscmc
Jun 16, 2009 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
...more
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 ...more
Alison
Apr 26, 2013 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 ...more
Joyce
Mar 16, 2012 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
Nursebookie
This is my very first Bradford book and I fell completely in love with her engrossing writing that I immediately got addicted to. Emma Harte is the quintessential timeless heroine I loved reading about in the 20th century back drop of a rags to riches story of power, greed, ambition and most of all one of the hardest to attain amidst everything is love. A sweeping saga that I loved and was highly entertained by.

I highly recommend this book for a timeless sweeping saga.
Mary Jackson _TheMaryReader
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I reread this book after, well lets just say a long time ago. It was such a great read. its a long one and one you can devour it over a few days. Bradford is one of my favorite romance authors.
I am so happy for this 40 anniversary edition.
I gave it 4 stars and even if you have read it in the past grad a copy and reread, you will be so happy that you did.
The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for review. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are our own.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jul 25, 2011 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.
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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
Joshua
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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Maxine
Aug 05, 2011 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
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KIMBERLEY ADIELE

Probably the most impressive work of fiction I ever read in my life. Absorbing, comprehensive and unbelievably powerful. Anyone who wants to know what revenge is about should read this novel, though it took me a long time to finish it! I for one can easily believe that the author is probably the best in the whole wide world
kingshearte
Jun 21, 2011 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 ...more
Margitte
Read it many years ago and loved it. Was a Barbara Taylor Bradford devotee. Just wanted to add it to my books. I've read most of her books.
Bria
Aug 10, 2014 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
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Holly
Aug 10, 2012 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)
Maggie
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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, ...more
Suzanne
Jul 19, 2013 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
Lynda
Jan 04, 2016 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 ...more
MrsER
May 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I find it funny that the author has some strange preconceived idea about business peoplethat they are in business to dominate others, or some such nonsense. People are in business for one reason: they need the money. Simple as that. The main character. Emma, is such strong-willed woman, with so much confidence in herself, etc, yet spends the whole of the first chapter straightening her back, and reminding herself how tough and wise she is. I kept reading, but did not enjoy it, so just quit ...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
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Susan in Perthshire
I read this when it was first published in 1979. I read it through very quickly; and frankly, I loved it. As I was a northerner myself, I loved the descriptions of the area which brought it all to life for me. It was pure escapism and the focus on a female making it in business was lovely to see at that time.
I found Emma was quite often a difficult heroine to always admire or love because she was stubborn, illogical and bore huge grudges. I also thought some of her decisions did not make sense.
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Sheila Bennett
Mar 12, 2009 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 ...more
Faith
Mar 04, 2012 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
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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 72 Sep 16, 2014 05:13AM  
reveiw 18 86 Dec 23, 2013 04:36AM  

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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

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)

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