I really do not have a favourite book, as there are some amazing novels out there and my tastes have changed over the years as my life has changed.
In recent years my source of reading material revolved around easy escapism into the fictional worlds of writers such as Penny Vincenzi, Barbara Taylor Bradford (BTB), Santa Montefiori etc.
It is has all the hallmarks of my favourite type of read these days. Spanning the years 1926 – 1978 it narrates the story of three generations of women – the matriarch Audra Crowther, her daughter Christina and granddaughter Kyle.
The main setting for the book is West Yorkshire, in and around Leeds, where I spent some of my childhood and again for ten years (up to 2014) so there is a special connection for me. BTB was born in Leeds and writes accurately and descriptively about the area.
It was the setting of her first novel – “A Woman of Substance” and in “Act of Will” she makes reference to the Harte’s department store.
The core of the storyline is the complex relationship between the three generations of women, each very strong willed and determined to succeed in difficult and challenging circumstances.
They also intend to impose their act of will on the next generation to ensure success for them.
However, the three generations are very different and although the acts of will are imposed with love and the best of intentions, Audra’s daughter and then granddaughter are headstrong and determined to follow their own ambitions.
I have had a very complex and challenging relationship with my own mother and grandmother and so this book resonated with me. Running through the novel is Audra’s relationship with her husband Vincent Crowther which starts as an overwhelming, all consuming love, but moves and changes over the 50 years span of the novel, coping with the impacts of war, illness, poverty , infidelity and Audra’s overwhelming ambition for her daughter.
A multi-faceted novel addressing the complexities of marriage and the relationships between three generations of women, set in an interesting time in history and written with Barbara Taylor Bradford’s inimitable style and flair.
by Hiliary Bennett
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Featured image copyright Julian Dufort