A Dangerous Fortune

by Ken Follett

Hardcover, 1993

Call number





Delacorte Press (1993), Edition: First Edition, 533 pages


The death of a student in 1866 at an English boarding school is the first step on a path of intrigue that will haunt all those involved for the rest of their lives.

User reviews

LibraryThing member birdsam0610
This book has the distinction of being the first book that I purchased and read on my Sony e-reader. The first thing I noticed was that the e-reader must condense the pages as there were less screens than the book copy of A Dangerous Fortune- a good thing in my opinion as Mr Follett tends to write chunky pageturners.

A Dangerous Fortune is another one of those page turners, focusing on an English banking family, the Pilasters, in the late 1800s. There is Edward, the rich banking heir and Hugh, who has been disgraced due to the bankruptcy and suicide of his father. We meet these cousins at their boarding school, where a schoolmate has mysteriously drowned. Enter Edward’s friend, Cordovan Micky Miranda and fellow Cordovian and Hugh’s friend, Tonio. This event will plague them for the rest of their lives.

The rest of the book is played out as a gripping family saga. There’s the domineering mother, Augusta, who will stop at virtually nothing to see that Edward becomes senior partner of the bank and that Hugh’s position is weakened. There’s the villain in Micky (some of his exploits will blow you away) but there’s the good friend of Hugh in Solly and Tonio. Maisie, whose life was changed when Hugh’s father went bankrupt, will also have you cheering at her rags to riches story.

Although this book is about banking, it’s never boring. The Pilasters and friends never cease to be thinking about plotting the rise or fall of someone. The possible exception to this is Hugh, who is honest (sometimes too much) and hardworking. He is a central character as a lot of the plotting revolves around his success and failure.

There is less focus on the history and more on the plot, which moves at a speedy pace. A great book to start ereading with!
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LibraryThing member beapea7
Good suspenseful vacation read.
LibraryThing member Othniel
I keep coming back to this book because of the connection between homophobia and crime which Follett develops in the relationships among Micky Mirnada, Augusta Pilaster (the family matriarch) and Edward Pilaster. I have always felt that Follett presents realistic characters, and this book is no exception.

Follett is also a master at portraying the era whenever he writes historical fiction, and Dangerous Fortune does not disappoint in this regard.

Dangerous Fortune is also a work I would call Economic Fiction and Follett does an excellent job of portraying the financial and banking industries of Victorian England.
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LibraryThing member JudyKenn
This was like watching a soap-opera on BBC. Illegitimate children, loveless marriages, evil, scheming women and men, murders, white knights and bad girls with hearts of gold. All of this is in this book and more. It does go ON quite a bit and everything ties up neatly in the end. All in all, I'd say it was entertaining, but , after finishing it, I felt like I always do after eating an entire pan of brownies. Why in the world did I do that?… (more)
LibraryThing member Dessss
I really enjoyed this book, it gives a great insight to London in the 1800s.
LibraryThing member Stensvaag
Delightful novel. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.
LibraryThing member santhony
This is a quite unremarkable, moderately entertaining work of fiction set in late 19th century England. As with another of Follett's works, A Place Called Freedom, it has little to recommend it over dozens of other similar novels set in the period.

The plot revolves around the Pilasters, a wealthy and contentious banking family, whose various branches struggle for control of the family business. Subplots involving a fictitious South American country and members of the British "underclass" bring some spice into the history. However, as with A Place Called Freedom, the most striking aspect of the novel is its utter predictability. Twists in the story become strikingly obvious scores of pages in advance.

I would rate this novel slightly above the aforementioned A Place Called Freedom, but both pale in comparison to Follett's two novels Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. Readers familiar with those works will likely be disappointed with this effort.
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LibraryThing member beezle176
relentlessy suspenseful, sassy and unscrupulous characters
LibraryThing member flashflood42
Prep school relationships between a Mexican boy and a rich society boy leads to murder, financial chicanery that goes on for years, sexual exploitation. The hero also was ruined by members of his greedy family but love and fortune ultimately prevail. We listened to the audio version while driving from Detroit to Maine with my daughter's 1 year old son and dog. It kept us going all three days!… (more)
LibraryThing member dmorrison
My favorite Ken Follett book! After reading pillars of the earth, I really appreciated the detail he puts into his book. This one was set in a different time period, but still had lots of detail and really kept me engaged. An excellent book, I would recommend it to anyone!!
LibraryThing member ElizChanLest
This book is a wonderful page turner. It is both perfectly plotted, and contains rich and believable characters. I also found there to be an underlying humor to the book that tempered the darkness of some of the characters. Once I started it, I resented having to put it down, and finished it in nearly 24 hours.
LibraryThing member miyurose
Loved it. This was a nice change from the WWII era Follett that I've read. However, there's one thing that ties all of his books together for me ... his characters. They are always captivating and complex and interesting. The banking stuff is even written in a way that I can understand! The book covers 26 years in the life of a family, and in the end, the good and the bad both get what they're due ... just the way it should be!… (more)
LibraryThing member ct.bergeron
Following the life of the Pilaster Family (particuliarly Hugh) through out his life was a most entertaining story. Over the spand of 30 plus year, we can see the devious ways of some, the honesty of others and how every decision made can impact the future. Very entertaining!
LibraryThing member rosies
my first Ken Follett and disappointed; unlikable characters; I didn't care what happened to anyone.
LibraryThing member DomingoSantos
Well-done and a captivating read. Unlike many authors, Follett knows how to write an ending that does not seem contrived, disjointed, forced, lacking in credulity, or otherwise disappointing.
LibraryThing member bsiemens
Partially listening to and mostly reading this novel was a marvelous experience. The author did a wonderful task of reminding through the text about prior plot developments that mattered to the current context. I cared about the protagonists and despised the antagonists. The climax was well worth the wait and the various twists were beautifully resolved in the epilogue.… (more)
LibraryThing member paulhock
I liked it. Well written murder, political intrigue, set in the banking world of 19th Century England.
LibraryThing member DavidShellhamer
I liked Pillars much better; which I read first. Follett is an excellent writer but I could of done without this depressing story of corruption,murder, unnecessary sex, oh yes and don't forget to add a gay character because there were gays back then also! It seemed contrived. In general, I don't like a story that has no redeeming or complicated characters. Would make a decent made for TV movie with some B rate washed up actors.… (more)
LibraryThing member EadieB
1866, tragedy strikes at the exclusive Windfield School. A young student drowns in a mysterious accident involving a small circle of boys. The drowning and its aftermath initiates a spiraling circle of treachery that will span three decades and entwine many lives. This book is Follett at his best. English families with power, money, greed and murder at their core. The plot is fast-paced and easy to sink into until the very end. The characters are some you will love and some you will hate. They are realistic and believable. I'm looking forward to my next Follett book and highly recommend this to those who love historical fiction.… (more)
LibraryThing member mickmckeown
Follett is fantastic in A Dangerous Fortune. The author introduces us to a family business and a couple of corrupt characters. As the reader you not only get to see the inner workings of the Victorian era banking house known as Pilaster's but you also get to see the making of a man in Hugh Pilaster. The book is fun, fast paced and if your a Follett fan then you will like this one. If you have never read Follett before this is a good book to start with. Enjoy!… (more)




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