A Desperate Fortune

A Desperate Fortune

Book - 2015 | Touchstone edition
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While transcribing an old manuscript of a young girl’s diary, Sara decodes an account of Jacobite spies. Long before, Mary Dundas gets involved in a mission which makes her confidante to the King of Scotland in exile. And along the way, both women fall for men they know little about.
Publisher: New York : Touchstone, 2015
Edition: Touchstone edition
ISBN: 9781451673838
Branch Call Number: FIC
Characteristics: 498 pages : 22 cm


From Library Staff

Sara Thomas is a brilliant if amateur codebreaker. She sees and reads tangible patterns very easily. People are another story - their emotions are a mystery to her, and she prefers to throw herself into her work. So, when she is offered the chance to go to Paris and decode a centuries-old mystery... Read More »

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Jan 12, 2020

Two parallel stories: a modern cryptographer trying to decipher a 1700s code, and the woman living back then. A long read.

Sep 13, 2019

Also one of my favourite books! Great historical fiction, and unsuspecting romance. Beautiful ending :)

JCLColleenO Jul 06, 2017

This book is a historical adventure that unravels as a modern day mystery, enhanced by two love stories, one in present day and another in 1732. Sara Thomas depends on her cousin Jacqui to calm her sometimes nonsensical Asperger’s world. When Jacqui presents Sara with a cipher to unscramble as a means to test her for a job with a client of hers, it challenges Sara. In the process, this cipher job resolves many of Sara’s lifelong doubts about her ability to have a normal life, including meeting a man who accepts her uniqueness. The cipher leads Sara to France to decode a diary written by a woman in the 1700s. Mary Dundas had been left with relatives to raise her when her mother died and her father followed his political aspirations. She felt abandoned, so when her brother comes for her in 1732, something she had always dreamed about, Mary is too excited to ask very many questions. Eventually she realizes that she is the perfect solution to a Jacobite’s need for discretion. Mary Dundas finds herself on a dangerous mission for a cause she has never supported until now, and falling for a man who is the most dangerous of them all. I loved all aspects of this book, and plan to read more by this author.

May 10, 2017

One of my favorite books! I love the back and forth and the relationships being built between the characters. If you had to read one book from this author this would be it!

Feb 08, 2017

It was refreshing to see a character with Asperger's treated as neither comic nor tragic but simply as human, with an assortment of strengths, weaknesses and quirks, as are we all. I learned all sorts of interesting information while being entertained. I thought the balance between the contemporary and historical storylines was excellent in this one.

Jan 17, 2017

This is an excellent historical mystery! I strongly recommend it.

ArapahoeLesley Nov 16, 2016

As always I am impressed by the research and heart put into Kearsley's novels and this one is on par with The Winter Sea in my opinion.

Jun 06, 2016

kept putting me to sleep not one of her best books it was very very slow

Nov 29, 2015

Overall, a very slow, safe read which is also suitable for YA readers.
I would have rated it higher if the book had been purely focused on the historical half of the story. The contemporary half was a real snooze & I found myself skimming those chapters to get back to the plot line concerning the past.

ehbooklover Aug 14, 2015

Yet another amazing book by one of my absolute favourite authors. Parallel stories told by two wonderful protagonists living in very different time periods, a very complicated and sexy Scot (shades of Jamie Fraser!), and obviously well-researched historical details and settings made for a fantastic read. I have yet to read a book by this author that I haven't loved. Highly recommended.

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Feb 08, 2017

Any man deserving of your notice will need nothing to impress him but that you should be yourself, and any man deserving of your love will see you as you truly are, and love you notwithstanding.

Feb 08, 2017

I’d always been puzzled when books about people with Asperger’s claimed that we didn’t have empathy. True, I might have trouble sometimes guessing how another person felt, but sadness was an obvious emotion and an easy one to spot most of the time. My problem wasn’t that I didn’t understand their feelings, only that I didn’t have a clue how to respond to them. I never knew the proper thing to do or say. I wasn’t good at comforting.

Feb 08, 2017

“The heroines of these fairy tales, their lives are often dictated by overbearing men – by their fathers and their suitors, kings and princes whom they must outwit and guard themselves against, and the fairies who helped them were usually female, and powerful. They’re very feminist, these stories.”
“Which is probably,” I said, “why we don’t hear of them.”
[quote part 1]

Feb 08, 2017

[quote part 2]
She smiled. “Yes, very likely. There were men in these salons, too. Charles Perrault – you know, the writer of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’? He was always with these women. His own niece had a salon, a very famous one. But where her princesses were strong and stood up for their rights, her uncle’s heroines were meek and weak and beautiful, and needing to be rescued.”
“So why, “I asked, “did his stories survive all this time, while hers haven’t?”
“Because he was a man. And because the society those women skewered with their stories was just as quick to skewer them for their success, for being popular. It happens still today, I think. . . .”

Feb 08, 2017

Success, for him, is something that you win, that other people have to give you. But if other people give you something they can take it back. For me, the work itself, just being able to create – that’s what I want. I don’t need all the high acclaim and recognition.

Feb 08, 2017

“You do not like the ending,” she reminded him. “You told me so yourself.”
He turned his head towards her then, his face so far in shadow now she scarce could see his eyes. “Then write a different one.”
Mary was not sure at first that she understood what he was asking.
Until quietly he told her, “Write a better one.”

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