The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Woman of substance scripts a timely return

The original woman of substance is back. Emma Harte, star of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s suddenly-controversial romantic bestseller, has resurfaced in Emma’s Secret, slated to hit bookshelves here later this month.

The book has hit British bookshelves on July 7, and the timing could not be sweeter. The saga is ripe for the picking after a controversy that has hogged headlines for the past two months. The Manhattan-based author of the 1979 novel has slapped Sahara Manoranjan with a copyright breach suit, for allegedly “lifting the plot and characters” of the book for its megaserial Karishma — The Miracles of Destiny. Now, readers and curious viewers can revisit the rags-to-riches tale in the latest instalment of the now four-part “Harte family saga”. Subtitled A Woman of Substance: The Missing Years, it is said to cast light on parts of Harte’s life not touched upon previously.

Ironically, the HarperCollins India headquarters in Delhi believes had Karishma stayed on air, demand for the books would have been higher, fuelled by viewer curiosity. All the attention has given the first book a “new lease of life”, explains Zamir Ansari, sales manager, HarperCollins. Having consistently sold “a couple of thousand copies a year”, post-May there has been a “surge of demand”. The new edition has a new cover, “in line with the sequel”, and supply will no longer be a problem. Review copies have already gone out, with strict instructions prohibiting the reproduction of parts of the book as extracts.

City booksellers have been hit by dwindling stocks of A Woman of Substance, and have not been able to service the sudden demand. Landmark had to turn away quite a few clients for the first book. “It is a title that sells well ordinarily. But with the court case, interest went up. Though people were asking about it, we couldn’t get enough supply,” explains Gautam Jatia, CEO, Landmark. The new book is good news. “It will be popular,” feels Jatia, whose store is now well stocked with the Bradford back-list. “There is a lot of curiosity surrounding the novel.”

Rupa & Co, distributor of the book and retailer, has been selling as many copies of the book as it has received. The last consignment of around 100 books is almost finished, in less than a week. Though at the time demand peaked supply dried up, affecting sales, there is still enough demand, explains partner Raju Barman. The supplier expects to place a reorder this month.

HarperCollins UK, a branch of the Rupert Murdoch-controlled house that has backed Bradford since A Woman of Substance, has released the Emma’s Secret trade paperback at an Indian price of £6.99, against the British price of £10.99. India sales are likely to pick up, predict booksellers, when the smaller, cheaper mass-market paperback is issued.

British born Bradford, who thanks on her website “everyone who has written in” supporting her “legal action… against an Indian television network which has publicly admitted to plagiarising my novels in the trilogy of A Woman of Substance”, is already on to her next volume, tentatively titled Unexpected Blessing.

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