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.
I write on economics, history and politics. I read/listen to feed my pen. I enjoy great narration more than music,, movies or tv.
The beginning looked rather good and David Case commands the twelve most interesting voices in narrative art.
His best work is his non-fiction.
The early chapters, while the author had energy and imagination firing on all cylinders and while the characters were believable.
Hardly, at 41 hours.
It not only evokes 19th century literature; it copies it. It parades one super-human after another, all making speeches to each other that no one would actually recite. Everyone is just too wonderful for words in this world of loves at first sight and over-blown pledges of eternal loyalty. It would be quaint if it was actually written in the 1800's. As it is though, Costain has managed to re-create the worst traits of the period. Compare with Jane Austin, whose characters are conflicted, wonderful, awful, strong and weak at the same time. Compare with Patrick O'Brien for whom the most heroic characters have the most gaping flaws. On top of it all, there is hardly a chuckle per chapter unless it is provided by the narrator, David Case, whose name drew me to the book in the first place.
A really well written saga spanning three generations of English families during the Industrial Revolution. Costain is a real pleasure. His writing hearkens back to a time before filthy language, gratuitous sex and needless violence were prerequisites to having a novel published, not to mention the need to check off every single item on the PC agenda. I was sad to read the rant of what seemed to be a very angry little gal who seemed to think this fine writer was worthy of being completely erased from the annuls of 20th century literature. I've yet to come across one hateful or bigoted theme from Costain. His prose are a joy. David Case wasn't as good as he usually is in this one, but still did a fine job. I would recommend this one and hope everyone who listens enjoys it as much as I did.
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