Cover image for The triumph of Katie Byrne
The triumph of Katie Byrne
Bradford, Barbara Taylor, 1933-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, 2001.
Physical Description:
338 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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Barbara Taylor Bradford takes her legendary storytelling to an exciting new level in this stunning, suspenseful tale about a young woman whose life is shattered by an unspeakable crime. Seventeen-year-old Katie Byrne stands shivering in the cold Connecticut woods, her flashlight illuminating a scene out of a nightmare. Carly, one of her two closest friends, lies beaten and unconscious, her face covered in blood. Moments later, the horror escalates when Katie's brother discovers the lifeless body of Denise, the third member of their inseparable trio. Nearby is the old barn where only hours before the three girls joyfully rehearsed Shakespearean speeches for an upcoming school performance. For Katie, who returned to the makeshift theatre to retrieve schoolbooks she had forgotten in her haste to get home early, the tragedy marks the end of a long-shared dream. The girls began acting together as ten-year olds with stars in their eyes, fantasizing about the day they would all move to New York and take Broadway by storm. Now, only Katie can realize the dream. Ten years later, Katie, a tall, lanky beauty with reddish-gold hair, is a struggling actress in New York. Haunted by the memory of Denise's death and by thoughts of Carly, who still lies in a coma, she longs for the fame and celebrity they imagined together so long before. After an acclaimed performance Katie finally wins a starring role on Broadway and begins a promising love affair. But before she can step into the spotlight, Katie must escape the dark shadows of the past. In sixteen previous bestselling novels, Barbara Taylor Bradford has enthralled millions of readers with page-turning plots and characters that linger in the heart and mind long after the book is closed. In The Triumph of Katie Byrne, romance, the theatre, and murder and mystery from the past all collide in a tale that will keep readers spellbound until the very last page.

Author Notes

Barbara Taylor Bradford was born in Upper Armley, Leeds, in Yorkshire on May 10, 1933. At the age of fifteen, she was working as a typist for the Yorkshire Evening Post. After six months, she was promoted to cub reporter in the newsroom. At eighteen, she became the newspaper's Woman's Page Editor and at twenty, she headed for London where she became Fashion Editor of the magazine Woman's Own. She also reported for the London Evening News, Today Magazine and other publications, covering everything from crime to show business. In 1961, she met her future husband Robert Bradford and they were married in 1963. After they married, they moved to the United States and she began writing a syndicated column, Designing Woman. The column was published for twelve years and received several awards.

Her debut novel, A Woman of Substance, was published in 1979 and she has since written over 20 novels. Many of her novels have been made into television mini-series including A Woman of Substance, Voice of the Heart, Act of Will, Everything to Gain and A Secret Affair. She also wrote children's books and eight books on decorating.

She has received numerous awards for her work including the Matrix Award from New York Women in Communication Inc in 1985, the City of Hope's Spirit of Life Award in 1995, the Five Towns Music and Art Foundation's Award of Achievement for outstanding accomplishments in the field of Literature in 1997 and the British Excellence Award in 1998. She was inducted into the Matrix Hall of Fame in 1998 and into the Writers Hall of Fame of America in 2003. In 2007, she was awarded an OBE (The Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to Literature. She is a member of the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress. She is also involved in several charity projects such as Literacy Partners and the Police Athletic League of New York City. She made the New York Times Best Seller List in 2014 with her title Cavendon Hall.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Perennially popular Bradford's latest romantic-suspense tale stars Katie Byrne, a struggling actress who remains haunted by a horrific attack that took place when she was 17. The awful crime, which took the life of her best friend and left another friend lingering in a coma, was never solved by police, and Katie, even 10 years after the event, is obsessed by the idea that the murderer is stalking her, hoping to finish the job. Until the crime is solved, Katie will never be free to pursue romance and her promising acting career. Bradford's simplistic story lines won't win over any John Grisham fans, who demand more intricate plotting, but romantic suspense readers look first for colorful characters and plenty of romance. Those are Bradford's drawing cards, and she delivers both in abundance here. Nearly everything Bradford writes turns into a best-seller, and many of her novels become television movies. Expect more of the same this time. --Kathleen Hughes

Publisher's Weekly Review

Long celebrated as a bestselling chronicler of women's lives, Bradford adds a mystery twist to her latest tale of romantic suspense. At 17, Katie Byrne and her lifelong best friends, Denise and Carly, share a passion to act on Broadway and plan to move from their mid-Connecticut town to New York after high school graduation. One day, Katie's early departure from their daily after-school acting rehearsals in Denise's uncle's barn saves her from a brutal attack on the other girls. With Denise dead and Carly in a coma, Katie fears she'll be the next victim, and for a time, acting loses its appeal. Ten years later, the murderer is yet to be found, Carly remains in a coma and Katie has picked up the pieces of her life and moved to London, studying in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. When she's offered the part of Emily Bront¬Č in a play bound for Broadway, she realizes it's the chance of a lifetime. But she's apprehensive about returning to face the ghosts of her past and hesitates to fulfill her childhood dream without her best friends to share it. Bradford sets a quick pace by introducing tough police detective Mac MacDonald, aka Mac the Knife, and by showing how Katie and her family dealing with the tragedy. The second half falls off, however, reverting mainly to inner dialogues and Katie's doubts about her ability to perform on stage. A too convenient, totally unmotivated solution to the murder caps the curiously thin narrative, in which Bradford never fully renders her characters. This is a fast but shallow read, perhaps satisfying to Bradford's fans but not a significant milestone in her career. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Teenager Katie Byrne and her two best friends, Carly and Anne, always aspired to be actresses; they spent many hours reenacting roles in famous plays. But their dream is shattered when Anne is murdered and Carly is beaten into a coma. This tragedy now pervades every aspect of Katie's young adult life. She feels guilty as the sole survivor and harbors a fear that someone is stalking her. Nevertheless, Katie turns to acting and eventually is offered a role on Broadway. The first part of the novel is the most compelling, with the account of the attack and its aftermath along with the police investigation. As Katie travels to London, then to Broadway, and back to her home in Connecticut, the disaster in her early life seems to demand resolution. Reader Kate Burton nicely captures both the American and British accents of the characters. Recommended for general fiction collections. Catherine Swenson, Norwich Univ., Northfield, VT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One The girl sat on a narrow bench, center stage, her body bent forward, one elbow on her knee, a hand supporting her head. The thinker, deeply thinking, her body language seemed to convey. She was dressed very simply, boyishly, in a loose grey knitted tunic cinched by a black leather belt, worn with black tights and ballet slippers. Her long reddish-gold hair was plaited, the plaits wound tightly around her head, so that the finished effect was like a burnished-copper cap gleaming under the pinspot shining down. The girl's name was Katie Byrne and she was seventeen and acting was her entire life. She was about to act for her favorite audience -- an audience of two, her best friends, Carly Smith and Denise Matthews. They sat on straight-backed wooden chairs in front of the makeshift stage in the old barn which belonged to Ted Matthews, Denise's uncle. Both girls were the same age as Katie, and had been friends since childhood; all three were fellow members of the amateur acting group at the high school in the rural Connecticut area where they all lived. Katie had chosen to perform a speech from one of Shakespeare's plays at the school's upcoming Christmas concert. It was only two months away, and she had recently begun to rehearse the piece; Carly and Denise were also perfecting their chosen speeches for the same concert, rehearsing with her in the barn almost every day. Now, at last, Katie lifted her head, stared out into space, and focused her blue eyes on the back wall of the barn, as if she saw something visible only to herself. Taking a deep breath, she began. "'To be or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them. To die -- '" Abruptly, Katie stopped. She jumped up off the bench, walked to the edge of the stage, looked down at her friends. Shaking her head, she seemed unexpectedly uncertain of herself, she who normally had such confidence and self-possession. "I'm not getting it right," Katie wailed. "Yes, you are, and you're wonderful!" Carly cried, rising, stepping closer to the stage, the stage on which they had started to act when they were children. "Nobody does Shakespeare the way you do it. You're the best, Katie." "Carly's right," Denise agreed as she went to join Carly near the stage. "It's the way you act the words, say them. You make sense out of them, and there's never been a Hamlet like you." Katie burst out laughing. "Thanks for your compliment, Denny, but there were a few others before me ... Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton, to name a couple of them ... they were the greatest classical actors on the English-speaking stage, just as Christopher Plummer is the greatest classical actor today. And listen, I keep telling you, it's all to do with understanding the meaning of the words, the motivation and intention behind them. And also with punctuation, knowing when to run the words on without pause, and when to pause to breathe...." She let the sentence trail off, knowing now was not the right time to give Denise another acting lesson. Returning to the bench, she seated herself, adopted the thinker's position, which was comfortable for her, and sat ruminating for a moment or two. Whatever her friends said, however much praise they lavished on her, Katie knew that her performance was slightly off today. Her concentration was not what it usually was, and she wasn't sure why. Unless it was because she felt guilty at being here this afternoon. Her mother wasn't well, and she was needed at home to help out. And yet, selfishly, she had decided to steal this time at the barn in order to rehearse the speech from Hamlet, and persuaded her friends to come with her after school. Then rehearse, a small voice inside her head instructed. She took several deep breaths, relaxed her throat, let the stillness of the stage envelop her, calm her. Within minutes she was ready, and she launched herself into Hamlet's soliloquy, her inbred natural self-confidence perfectly in place once more. Listening attentively, Carly was transported by Katie's voice, as she always was. There was a lovely resonance to it, full of nuances and feeling. No wonder, Carly said to herself, thinking of the way Katie practiced, was endlessly training her voice. They all knew how serious she was about acting. Katie was dedicated, disciplined, and very determined to succeed. Somehow, Katie knew how to act the parts she had chosen without having had too many lessons, while Denise and she sort of stumbled along as best they could. Fortunately, they were improving, thanks to Katie's relentless coaching and encouragement. They had first started acting together seven years ago, ten-year-olds with stars in their eyes. Denise's uncle Ted had let them make use of the old barn at the far end of his property, and they had created a makeshift theater out of it. At that time they had made a promise to one another, had vowed they would go to New York one day and start their acting careers in earnest. Making it to Broadway was their big dream. Katie kept promising that the three of them would move to the city once they finished high school, and that eventually they would be stars on the Great White Way. Carly hoped this would come true, that they would have their names in lights, but sometimes she was filled with doubts. Denise had no doubts whatsoever, and as she sat next to Carly, watching Katie on the stage, relishing her performance, she was absolutely positive that their dreams would soon materialize. Katie was brilliant, there was no question, and they themselves were getting better and better, mostly because of Katie's intense lessons. When they went to New York they would find an apartment to share, go to acting school, and become professional actresses. It was all going to work, the dream would become reality, she was convinced. Katie suddenly stood up, moved downstage right, and continued. "'To die, to sleep -- No more, and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep -- To sleep, perchance dream ...'" Flawlessly, and without faltering once, Katie went on to complete this most famous of Shakespearean speeches, her well-modulated voice rising and falling as she gave emphasis to certain words, less importance to others. And the quality of her acting was superb; after her initial hesitation, her seeming loss of confidence, she had gone forward sure-footedly. When Katie was finally finished, she remained motionless for a second or two, her cornflower-blue eyes still focused in the distance, and then she blinked several times before glancing at Carly and Denise. And then she smiled at them broadly, sure in the knowledge that she had managed to get the speech right at last. Her friends began to clap and cheer and they bounded up onto the stage enthusiastically, hugged her, congratulated her. "Thanks," she said, grinning in return, and hugging them back. "But don't you think I should rehearse again tomorrow, just to make sure?" They both drew away and gaped at her in astonishment. Denise cried shrilly, "You don't need another rehearsal! But we do. And you've got to help us tomorrow. I'll never get my Desdemona speech right, and Carly's still having trouble with her Portia, aren't you, Carly?" "I am a bit." Carly sounded miserable. Then her voice changed, became more positive as she added, "As for you, Katie Byrne, you're just awesome." "We're not going to let you hog the stage tomorrow," Denise announced with a grin, adding in a mock-threatening voice, "You're going to rehearse us, because we still need it. And if you don't, you might find yourself going off to be a Broadway actress all by yourself!" "Never. You'll both be with me," Katie declared, pulling the girls closer, putting an arm around each one of them, glancing at Denise admiringly. Her velvet-brown eyes, full of hidden depths, were sparkling. She was never anything but high-spirited and happy, bubbling with laughter and good humor. She had a kind of golden radiance about her, with her long blond hair and pink-and-white porcelain skin. She was a genuine all-American beauty, slender, shapely, and long-legged. In contrast, Carly, who had been Katie's closest friend since they were toddlers, was very different. She was quieter, had a more introspective demeanor, was a little fey at times, and her seductive, rather dramatic looks belied her retiring, gentle nature. Eyeing her, Katie thought that even in her school clothes she looked voluptuous. Carly had a beautiful if diminutive figure, and with her short dark curls and pansy-violet eyes she had the look of a young Elizabeth Taylor. With a sudden rush of emotion, Katie felt her abiding friendship and love for them both flowing through her ... they were her dearest, her very best friends. "It's the three of us or nothing!" Katie exclaimed emphatically. "And I'll be glad to rehearse with you tomorrow. But listen up, you two, you're much better than you think. Just remember that." Carly and Denise beamed on hearing these words, but neither girl made a comment and, arms linked, the three of them left the stage together. As they always did, they went through the long-established ritual of sitting at the table, drinking a bottle of Coke each. Today they were intent on dissecting Katie's performance, and generally discussing their parts, their set pieces for the concert. It was Carly who changed the subject, when she suddenly straightened in her chair and said to Katie, "Do you think your aunt Bridget will be able to find us an apartment in New York? Do you really think it's all going to happen for us?" Katie nodded. "I do. Absolutely. And she said we can stay with her at the loft in TriBeCa for as long as we want." Denise interjected, "Mrs. Cooke is sure we'll be able to get into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She even said she'll help us." Denise reached out, squeezed Carly's arm. "Don't be such a worrywart." Carly let out a sigh, then she leaned back in the chair, relaxing, sipping her Coke. After a moment, she said in a reflective voice, "Just think, next year at this time we'll be in the big city, attending drama classes and camping out at Aunt Bridget's fancy loft." "Hey, it's not all that fancy," Katie exclaimed, grinning at her. "But it's comfortable, I'll say that." She jumped up, headed towards the curtained alcove which they used as a changing room. Pulling the curtain open, she stepped inside, then swung her head, explained, "I've got to hurry, I'm really late to help Mom with supper." She eyed the Portia and Desdemona costumes and other items strewn around haphazardly, and shook her head. "I just don't have time to help you tidy up, I'm sorry." "That's no problem," Carly assured her. "Anyway, it doesn't matter if it's messy in here. Nobody ever comes to the barn except us." "Uncle Ted says that after all these years it's ours." Denise looked from Carly to Katie and grinned, then reached for the copy of Othello which lay on the table. She started to flip through the pages of the play, looking for the part she was learning. Katie disappeared behind the curtain; Carly opened The Merchant of Venice, wanting to study Portia's famous "quality of mercy" speech, wondering if she would ever master it, worrying about it again, as she had for several weeks. Within seconds, Katie was stepping out of the curtained alcove, wearing her school clothes and struggling into her jacket. "See you in class tomorrow," she said as she rushed across the floor to the door. Denise flashed her bright smile, and Carly, looking up, asked, "Can you please bring the long black wig tomorrow, Katie? I think it might work for my Portia." "Yes, it'll look great on you. I'll bring it to school, Carly." She waved nonchalantly over her shoulder as she left the barn. Chapter Two Katie closed the heavy barn door behind her and shrugged deeper into her jacket. It had turned cold and she shivered as she hurried up the hill leading to the highway. Her mind was still focused on Carly and Denise. They were so much better than they realized, good actresses who were accomplished and knew what they were doing. But they didn't give themselves enough credit, genuinely needed to gain more self-confidence, that was their main problem. Mrs. Cooke, their teacher, who ran the drama group and taught acting at the high school, predicted great things for them all in the next few years because of their talent, dedication, and willingness to work hard. It pleased Katie that Heather Cooke believed in them with such conviction that she was encouraging their ambition to work in the theater. Katie trudged on up the steep slope, continuing to think about her best friends, imagining what it would be like to be living in New York and studying at the academy. She could hardly wait for the time to come and she knew Carly and Denise felt the same way. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she saw rapid movement close to the mass of rhododendron bushes growing in profusion on the hillside. She stopped abruptly, half turned, stood frowning in puzzlement at the clump of dark green bushes. But everything was still, silent, and there was no sign of life. Shrugging dismissively, Katie continued on up the slope, deciding that the dark flash must have been a deer. There were a great number of them in the Litchfield hills, and they were becoming bolder. Everyone's gardens, her mother's included, attested to that fact. Within minutes, the hillside flattened out into a piece of barren land that stretched all the way to the highway. This cut through New Milford, ran up to Kent and the small towns beyond. Katie paused at the side of the road to let a truck pass and then ran across to the other side. A second or two later she was on the dirt track that led through the wide meadows behind Dovecote Farm, a local landmark with its picturesque red barns and silos, and, in the summer, lush fields of rippling golden wheat. At one moment, as she walked along, she glanced up. The sky had turned the color of old iron, bitter, remote, and forbidding. Dusk was slowly descending and the meadows were beginning to fill with shadows. Wanting to get home as fast as possible, she began to jog down the track and found herself plunging deeper into the fields. But soon she realized she must slow down. A faint mist was rising, wispy and vaporous, floating in front of her like a grey veil; trees and hedges were rapidly becoming blurred, turning into weird inchoate shapes looming all around her. Having tramped this dirt track from early childhood, her feet knew it well. Nevertheless, she found herself moving at a snail's pace, growing more cautious, afraid of stumbling in the thick fog. From the Paperback edition. Excerpted from The Triumph of Katie Byrne by Barbara Taylor Bradford All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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