02/06/2003

To be the Best (by Barbara Taylor Bradford)

I enjoyed the first couple of books I read by Barbara Taylor Bradford. I mostly enjoyed 'A Woman of Substance', which I read recently. I was less impressed by its sequel, 'Hold the Dream'. But I had bought them, and the third in the series, second-hand, so thought I might as well read the third and hope it was better than the second.

Alas, I was disappointed.

'To be the best' has little to say. Paula, Emma Harte's favourite grandchild, is threatened with treachery in the businesses, and must fight to hold onto her inheritance as well as deal with her increasingly difficult family life.

Unfortunately, as with 'Hold the Dream', there are far too many tedious flashbacks. This is irritating for someone like me who has read the previous novels in the past couple of weeks, and would be pointless for someone who had not read them since most of them merely give extraneous details that are not really relevant to this novel at all.

If one ignores the flashbacks, the story - what's left of it - is fast-paced and quite exciting, but unfortunately the characters are very flat and emotionless - they all appear to be highly ambitious and hard-hearted.

Moreover, the book is filled with an unlikely number of disasters and tragedies, worthy of a television soap. However, its one redeeming feature is that the ending is gentle, reassuring, and hopeful.

I very much doubt if I'll read this one again.

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