A Dangerous Fortune Mass Market Paperback – Nov 1 1994
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From Kirkus Reviews
Follett (Night Over Water, 1991; The Pillars of The Earth, 1989, etc.) peeks into the naughty world of late Victorian merchant bankers. A tragic misadventure among schoolboys is at the root of the rotten world of the Pilaster family. Weak bully Edward Pilaster and his too-dear South American chum Mickey Miranda cause the death by drowning of a lad from the lower form at their minor public school and then grow up to become as corrupt as one might expect. Mickey murders his way to a sinecure in the London legation of his nitrate-rich Latin American homeland, and, with much help from his gorgeous, manipulative mum Augusta, Edward bumbles his way to a partnership in the immensely important family bank. The only really good Pilaster, aside from discreetly gay Uncle Samuel, is young Hugh, whose father left the family firm, founded his own bank, and then had to commit suicide when the bank foundered. Hugh is a born banker, but since he's so much smarter than cousin Edward, Aunt Augusta hates him and throws constant obstacles in his path. Against Hugh's advice, Mickey and Edward team up on a series of huge loans to Mickey's government--money that goes to the purchase of war materiel and the advancement of Mickey's thuggish father. On this rotten foundation, the Pilaster bank grows to Imperial preeminence and Augusta gets the earldom she wants for the husband she dislikes. Hugh, pining for the Polish-born, Jewish bareback- rider he loved and lost and still nursing his childhood memory of That Day At The Swimming Hole, gets nothing but grief until those shaky South American bonds finally collapse and he's really needed. Interesting financial tips and a sprinkling of naughty bits, but the rest is minor Masterpiece Theatre. (BOM ??) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A terrific page-turner.”—Los Angeles Times
“Political and amorous intrigues, cold-blooded murder, and financial crises . . . old-fashioned entertainment.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Breathlessly plotted . . . relentlessly suspenseful.”—The New York Times
“Gripping, complex plot . . . sexual intrigue . . . fascinating characters . . . You won’t be able to put down this exciting page-turner.”—Lexington Herald-Leader
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Top Customer Reviews
THE FACT: if you like Ken Follet, you will love this book. Set in ~1870, the story focuses on the Pilaster's, one of the richest banking family's in England. Over the course of the book, secrets are revealed, people are blackmailed, fortunes are gained and lost, and alliances are built and then broken. Both good and bad men and women rise and fall.
CONCLUSION: this is a superb read. The characters are vivid and extremely entertaining. The plot is tight, unique, and perfectly paced: fast, but not too fast. A great combination of drama, history, action, business, and romance. It did definitely remind me of Pillars of the Earth, except that it wasn't quite as depressing (Yay!) and the story moved a lot better.
Great job Ken. A MUST READ for any historical fiction fan!
Dangerous Fortune tells the story of the Pilaster Bank and its fall. Most of the characters seem to be stereotypes, forced into a role by their position in society. But I soon realized that was how real life was in 19th century London. Your roll in life was largely determined by your ancestors, your profession, or your title.
All characters acted like they were expected to, the loyal wives, the respected businessmen, the sons who were the heirs, but Follet shows us how they got around being respectful by gambling, visiting brothels, and lying and stealing. This book is full of intrigue and lust and greed. I liked that but I also enjoyed the educational aspect of what life was like for the upper class of England long ago. I assume Follet knows what he is talking about.
I recommend this book!
Augusta Pilaster is the scheming, socially conscious, self-appointed matriarch of the family. She is a woman who will stop at nothing to ensure that her reckless and easily manipulated husband, Joseph, and their indolent, dissolute, and lackluster son, Edward, will get and retain control of the Pilaster banking enterprise. Her machiavellian machinations, however, will eventually trigger the downfall of the family's fortune.
Hugh Pilaster, Augusta's nephew by marriage, is the Pilaster who has the brains and work ethic to take the Pilaster banking fortunes to a new level. His Achilles heel is that he seems destined to be attracted to working class women, a chink in his armor that Augusta Pilaster uses to her and her immediate family's advantage. He, too, is Augusta Pilater's unwitting pawn, until the day of reckoning comes.
Micky Miranda is the romantically handsome scion of a wealthy, unscrupulous, and power hungry South American businessman. Micky attended an exclusive school with Edward and Hugh Pilaster, when they were young. While there, tragedy struck when a mysterious swimming "accident" took the life of one of their friends, an event that was to shadow their lives in ways no one could have imagined. Micky Miranda would eventually enter into into a web of complicity with Augusta Pilaster that would impact on the fortunes of both the Miranda and Pilaster families.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Ken Follett enriched my life and intellect with Pillars of the Earth and his Trilogy (must reads), so I thought I would read some of his earlier books. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Robert MacLean
Felt Follett captured both the workings of 19th Century banking and the mores of the upper-middle class and upper class of the day. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Don Blanchard
Follett always writes an interesting book filled with twist and turnsPublished 4 months ago by DOROTHY CARMICHAEL
I read this after Ken Follett's Trilogy series. It did not disappoint. He's a wonderful writer, and I enjoyed meeting all the characters.Published 6 months ago by Linda Gibson
Characters too one dimensional and predictable. Not up to Follett standard.Published 7 months ago by Michael Harle