To Be the Best (or not)

Dust jacket proclaims To Be the Best part of the "Woman of Substance" seriesAccording to its jacket notes, To Be the Best is the third and “the most thrilling novel yet” book in a saga about the family of Emma Harte.

That means the first two were as thrilling as watching a mud puddle evaporate.

Emma Harte strong, shrewd business woman who made a fortune creating and running a chain of elegant department stores.

Although she was devoted to her family, Emma didn’t have time to pay much attention to her children or their partners until some of them had run amuck.

Since Emma’s death and those of several other family members who presumably also appeared in earlier volumes, the family business has been run by Emma’s granddaughter, Paula.

This novel sees a series of family tragedies: murder, suicide, hemorrhage, and fire.

And Paula makes a big mistake that almost gives one of the run-amucks control of the corporation.

Despite all their ups and downs, the family sticks together. They’re always there for each other, arriving by a chauffeured limo or private jet, impeccably groomed, attired by the most fashionable designers,  glittering with gems,  always leaving behind a trace of the most exotic perfumes, always on hand for a happy ending.

To Be the Best by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Doubleday. ©1988. 514 p.
1988 bestseller #8; my grade: C-

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

4 thoughts on “To Be the Best (or not)”

    1. To be quite honest, I read the novel months ago and I don’t remember a thing about it. Perhaps it was too soothing for me!

      My definition of good writing is a only a shade lighter than Franz Kafka’s: “If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, when they do we read it? Good God, we would also be happy if we had no books, and such books as make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. But what we must have are those books which come upon us like ill-fortune, and distress us deeply, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, the Brontes are totally the opposite of what I mean. What is there to learn from those tales about screwy people living in cold, dark houses in the middle of nowhere? (Unless it’s to avoid screwy people living in cold, dark houses in the middle of nowhere.)

        What I mean are novels more like Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, Richard Kim’s The Martyred, or Walter Greenwood’s Love on the Dole. Even E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web has a more important message than anything by the Brontes.


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