Bradford's trilogy on ``merchant prince'' Emma Harte and her many heirs began with the runaway bestsellers A Woman of Substance and Hold the Dream. This final book picks up the story a decade after Emma's death, when the third generation has the thriving businesses she started well in hand. Heading up the family is Paula McGill O'Neill, who runs the luxurious department stores that anchor the Harte empire. Super-wife and mother Paula brings a whirlwind of energy to that exacting job; as a result of her near-perfect efficiency, the first half of the book seems rather saccharine. But Jonathan Ainsley, an unscrupulous cousin she had banished from the fold, is waiting to move in for the kill when Paula indulges her desire to carve out a fiefdom of her own, risking everything by overextending her resources. Although this lengthy battle for supremacy is the focal point, a host of dramatic subplots continues the amorous, sorrowful and shady doings of the O'Neills and the Kallinskis, two families whose fortunes are entwined with the Hartes. Despite constant jet-setting between glamorous watering places, these wealthy lifestyles are beginning to be awfully repetitious. Fans will welcome this new installment, but it's impossible not to agree with many of the characters who sigh about the drive and vigor lost along with that elegant pirate Emma Harte. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club dual main selections. (July)
With this third volume of the cycle begun in 1979 with A Woman of Substance , Bradford continues the saga of Emma Harte, her descendants, and the far-flung business empire she founded. Now, some 11 years after Harte's death, the story revolves around Paula Amory O'Neill, Emma's granddaughter and principal heir, and the ups and downs faced by her family and friends. Readers will happily re-acquaint themselves with the sprawling Harte clan and their friends and associates, the O'Neills, and Kallinskis. A more than satisfactory sequel to the previous segments of this generational tale, with an ending that promises still more to come. Literary Guild Main Selection.Judith A. Gifford, Salve Regina Coll. Lib., Newport, R.I.