The Heir is the second book in Bradford’s series about the Deravenel family, yet it stands alone very well. There were some “as you know” moments that this reader thought were not necessary, but on the whole, this novel delivers what readers expect from Barbara Taylor Bradford: a large canvas featuring numerous characters intriguing over power and wealth in upscale restaurants and boardrooms and indulging their passions in grand houses and dramatic settings.
The story opens in 1918. English business tycoon Edward Deravenel is troubled by his loose-cannon brother George and his critical wife Elizabeth so turns to the soothing Jane Shaw and the wise counsel of close friend Will and brother-in-law Anthony. Meanwhile, his youngest brother Richard is competently handling affairs in the north.
If this summary sounds suspiciously familiar, that is because Bradford has lifted her plot from the reign of Edward IV. I thought her modern-day retelling of the War of the Roses’ machinations worked reasonably well – but then she made a jump across nearly fifty years to when Harry (i.e., Henry VIII) was managing the Deravenel empire. Although the connections with the earlier story are clearly made, I felt this section would have worked better as the beginning of a new novel.
The Heir is a page-turner, if only to count the number of times the characters nibbled Scottish smoked salmon or shopped at Harrods. Actually I was quite interested to learn how Bradford would treat the “Princes in the Tower” mystery and Henry’s split with Katherine!