HOLD THE DREAM by Barbara Taylor Bradford
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Emma Harte, that Woman of Substance (1979), returns for a long, last gasp before her grandchildren take over the Yorkshire-based family empire--in this slow, talky sequel to Bradford's original bestseller. It's now 1969; Emma, having successfully repelled an attempted coup by four of her five children, remains in firm matriarchal control as her 80th birthday approaches. But she's continuing to nurture the family-biz careers of several more-or-less troubled grandchildren: gorgeous, smart Paula is the designated successor to queenpin Emma herself--but her marriage to Jim Fairley (chief of the Harte newspaper division) is fraying, thanks to his macho insensitivity and repressed resentments (the old Harte/Fairley feud); solid Alexander handles Harte Enterprises; perky young Emily is being groomed to run General Retail Trading (while discovering passion with cousin Winston); slimy Jonathan heads the real estate division but might be up to something sneaky; and Sarah attends to Lady Hamilton Clothes--when not silently, vainly lusting after dazzling super-hunk Shane O'Neill, the grandson of Emma's oldest, dearest chum, hotel-tycoon Blackie. Then, about halfway through the novel, much-widowed Emma decides to retire at last, embarking on a round-the-world trip with dear widower Blackie. So the focus now shifts to budding tycoon Paula--whose major concerns are more domestic than fiscal. First, there are scandals to hush up: the suicide of cousin Tony's wife, coinciding with the pregnancy of Tony's girlfriend (another cousin); the bygone Cabinet-level adulteries of foolish, much-wed Aunt Elizabeth. More important, Paula finds herself in a mad, sensual, True Love affair with cunnilinguist Shane--they're in Barbados for a combined boutique/hotel project--while hubby Jim remains a big problem. But eventually, after the picture-postcard demises of octogenarians Emma and Blackie, Jim is conveniently disposed of (a Chamonix avalanche), Paula is free to Love (after a brief case of survivorguilt). . . and she teams up with Alexander to expose Jonathan's treacherous scams. Like Voice of the Heart (1983), this predictable soap has none of the rags-to-riches grit of A Woman of Substance: Paula lacks Emma's no-nonsense fiber; the wall-to-wall dialogue is stilted and repetitious; the pace is daytime-serial leaden. Nonetheless, lots of Emma Harte followers--from the book or the TV mini-series--will want to slog on through Bradford's longwinded follow-up: an uninspired mixture of saga sentiment (reconciliation between Emma and daughter Edwina), family business (no intriguing details), and pulp-romance.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1985
Publisher: Doubleday