Barbara Taylor Bradford was born and raised in England. She started her writing career on the Yorkshire Evening Post and later worked as a journalist in London. Her first novel, A Woman of Substance, became an enduring bestseller and was followed by twenty-three others, including the bestselling Harte series. In 2006 The Ravenscar Dynasty began an epic new family series around Ravenscar and the house of Deravenel. Barbara's books have sold more than eighty-one million copies worldwide in more than ninety countries and forty languages. In October of 2007, Barbara was appointed an OBE by the Queen for her services to literature. She lives in New York City with her husband, television producer Robert Bradford.
Bradford's latest offering covers familiar territory‘the playgrounds, decor, and travails of the rich and famous. It is the adventures of Laura Valiant, art adviser, that concern the reader in this soap-opera-in-a-book-jacket. Laura's marriage disintegrates, her best childhood friend battles cancer, and she becomes embroiled in an international art scandal of historic proportions, all the while holding herself together remarkably well‘almost too well to believe. The novel suffers from too much unnatural dialog, and short, often choppy scenes make it appear that Bradford is writing not a novel but the script for a miniseries. Still, the book is not without its compensations‘it's fun to read about wealthy, famous, and otherwise successful people jetting between New York, L.A., and Paris, and Bradford has a gift for opulent settings. Beach reading, not high art; purchase accordingly. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/98.]‘Bettie Alston Shea, P.L. of Charlotte & Mecklenburg Cty., NC
`Few novelists are as consummate as Barbara Taylor Bradford at
keeping the reader turning the page. She is one of the world's best
at spinning yarns.'
Another version of the indefatigable, headstrong heroine that's been Bradford's trademark since she first published A Woman of Substance 20 years ago appears here in a watered-down version as Laura Valiant, a New York art dealer who specializes in impressionist and post-impressionist works. Laura has what she thinks is a storybook marriage, and her closest childhood friend, Claire Benson, now publisher and editor-in-chief of a French interior design and art magazine, offers contrast as a bitter, divorced woman who dotes on her teenage daughter. Bradford's exploration of the relationship between the two women depicts a series of heartbreaks and scandals, most with more surface than substance. Claire's hidden past of childhood abuse, foreshadowed early in the book, makes the other characters appear obtuse for missing obvious clues. Meanwhile, Laura's "perfect" husband turns out to be bisexual, Claire's difficult ex-husband reappears in her daughter's life and Claire ends up confronting advanced breast cancer and battling for her life with Laura's loving support. The book tackles these all-too-familiar issues with a kind of stilted preachiness, and with often repetitive dialogue and a formulaic romance involving Laura and Claire's ex-husband. Contemporary headlines about Holocaust survivors demanding the return of Nazi-looted, privately owned works of art that surfaced in museums and private collections forms an important part of the plot, but Bradford's material on this controversial subject reads more like a newspaper article than an integrated theme. The saving grace in this, her 15th novel, is an echo of the memorable Emma Harte from Bradford's debut publication in Laura's grandmother, Megan Valiant, a strong-willed, charismatic woman who, with her colorful past and candid wisdom, will strike most readers as the real heroine of the saga. National author "High Tea" tour. (Feb.) FYI: This novel marks Bradford's return to Doubleday after several books with HarperCollins.