Tontine is a form of gambling - part lottery, part insurance. It begins with the Day the Battle of Waterloo was fought and ends at the closing of the 19th century.
The drama touches royalty and millionaires, actresses and sailors, planters and portrait painters. It ranges from London to the Caribbean, driven by a world in high gear, a world powered by greed.
But time flies by. Three survivors wait each other out. Then two, and at last, only one. . .a winner with everything but a future.
©1955 Thomas B. Costain (P)2010 Random House
This is a good book if you like really long novels which encompass [in this case] two families over most of a century. It begins just as the Battle of Waterloo is underway, and ends shortly before the 20th century. Large cast of characters -- sometimes a little hard to remember who is who. Costain is a competent writer, but I must admit that David Case is not one of my favorite readers, although he is somewhat better than usual with this book [the only other book I think he did really well was Margaret George's "Autobiography of Henry VIII"]. He can do accents, but his normal reading voice has a supercilious drawl to it.
Inevitably, the main characters age, and so there is more emphasis on them in their later years -- the whole plot revolves around who will survive the longest and win the "tontine", a form of gamble where the oldest survivor will get the most money out of the scheme. This means considerable dialogue where voices are quavering [and even rambling].
Definitely a "big read".
This was an excellent read. It started off a little slow but later held my attention completely. The concept of the stock market is way before its time. I loved the way the author took us through several generations. It was a great book. The brilliant business strategies reminded me a little of the Barbara Taylor Bradley Ravenscar family series; The Heir, etc.
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Enjoying long and detail rich novels, The Tontine was a wonder filled surprise. Dickensian in it's wealth of quirky characters, that move through the early industrial and Empire building revolutions of Britain, a Tontine, or Lottery of immense size, allows us to follow these ticket holders through three generations. Only one person can receive the great sum of the winning ticket from the accumulated interest of decades, that being the last person alive in the Tontine.
The growth of industry following the Napoleonic Wars and the expansion of the Empire, through to the social nightmare of great poverty and child labour in Victoria's reign, opens out to a full range of possibilities for the bold and weak inhabitants of 18th century England, in Thomas B. Costain's novel of 1955.
I also loved the characterizations the narrator, David Case, portrays.
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