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The author, a masterful storyteller, weaves an intriguing and mesmerizing tapestry of events that surround the wealthy Pilaster banking family in the latter part of nineteenth century England. Its panoramic sweep will hold the reader in its thrall. This complex story tells of the ebb and flow of their personal fortunes and the personalities that are to profoundly affect them, for better or worse.

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 Pilaster's unwitting pawn, until the day of reckoning comes.
Micky Miranda is the romantically handsome scion of a South American despot. 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 lives 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 a web of complicity with Augusta Pilaster that would impact on the fortunes of both the Miranda and Pilaster families.
This book takes the reader through all strata of English society, from the drawing rooms of the upper classes and nobility to the exclusive men's clubs and brothels that cater to exotic appetites. It is a totally engrossing and absorbing tale of love, hatred, and treachery that spans three decades. It is a story that the reader will thoroughly enjoy, as the book is terrific, a captivating and thoroughly entertaining
work of well written fiction. Bravo!
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on 16 January 2007
An excellent story, yet again by Ken Follett, who so far in my reading history, has dipped into completely different periods of time, leading to fascinating and captivating stories, characterised by well-thought out scenes and characters with depth.

However I had some difficutly with this one - it was not clear until about page 100 who the story was about. I found the number of lead characters confusing - partially because I did not know which relationships I should be taking note of, and therefore had trouble understanding the direction it was going in.

That the main character (Hugh), is also downplayed some of the time, whilst being shown sympathetically other times, meant that I simply didn't grasp the fact that the story is his. The initial chapter could have been better placed by calling it a prologue or something similar.

For Follett fans - you are guarenteed to like this!
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on 11 August 2012
' A Dangerous Fortune' tells the story of Hugh Pilaster and his family - bankers and influential people-from his days as a schoolboy and the mysterious death of Peter Middleton, a schoolfellow- a death in which Hugh's cousin Edward might well be implicated- to the family bank's collapse some twenty years later.It is full of intrigue, love, murder, plots, blood... It is highly nonsensical most of the time. All the characters are either villains of the deepest hue or near saintly goodies. Implausible turns and twists abound and credibility is stretched to the maximum , so stretched in fact you can hear it snap quite a few times. But it is nonetheless entertaining. I've been so disappointed in what I've read lately that ' A Dangerous Fortune', in spite of all its flaws, was like a bit of unpretentious fresh air. It amused me a lot and I kept reading because I wanted to know what would happen next rather than because I wanted to throw the book away. I must say that Ken Follett didn't waste any subtlety on this one. Aunt Augusta for example, who manages to manipulate everybody, doesn't have too difficult a time plotting and planning. A few well chosen sentences and everybody does her bidding. You don't believe in it one moment but funnily enough it never annoyed me. And it is exactly the same with all the other characters. Even the main protagonist Hugh, shrewd and talented man of business with impeccable flair for arranging profitable mergers, goes and marries a feckless fortune hunter when it is obvious that alarm bells should have been ringing in his head and creating quite a cacophony.You have to admire the sheer nerve it took to write so much nonsense with great aplomb. But I did enjoy it and it doesn't bother me to admit it!
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on 21 April 2004
Could not put it down. The kind of book to savour curled up on the sofa with a family size box of chocolates. I really enjoy reading Ken Follett and just finished this novel! A family saga you can really sink your teeth into, the story flows to the end. This author never disappoints me, whatever he writes about he does so brilliantly, flawlessly and leaves you wanting more. His best ever book (in my humble opinion) is "Pillars of the Earth" and "A Dangerous Fortune" is very close behind it!
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on 14 March 2008
Loved this book. Ken did such a good job with Pillars, that I was really looking forward to getting into another of his Epic tales.

I was dissapointed when I realised I was getting close to the end of this one. I could have read about these characters forever !!!

Seriously though, I suggest you have a read of this. And... if you havent read Ken before, you should also check out The Pillars of the Earth.

Well done Ken... give us another !!!
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on 5 March 2008
Great storyline to aother excellent Follett novel. I'd just finished Pillars for the umpteenth time, and grabbed this off of e-bay. A really good tale of greed, love, corruption and tragedy.
Dont be put off by the "banking" line-this is a ripping novel that will keep you more than captured for a few days!
Marvellous.....!!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 January 2016
There's little doubt that Ken Follett is a master story teller. He seems to turn his hand to any situation in any era and bring together all the elements of a great yarn. For me, the Pillars series is his best work. But I enjoy his writing and I've also been impressed by tales set in the Second World War, the First World War and, in this case, the mid 1860's and latter half of that century.

It's a story which resonates today; banking crisis and failure following imprudent lending. The social history of divide between the upper and lower classes is brought home by a well drawn characters from each social strata. The wealthy but divided Pilaster family; the Jewish Greenbaum bankers, the used and abused lower class 'ladies' and the foreign interlopers trying to capitalise on resource rich heritage and western greed.

It's a complex story, driven well by both plot and characters. It's rich in period detail so there's a strong sense of Victorian England, a period where class divide and social culture is clear. That divide is a compelling plot device which is fully exploited to explore the motivations and character failings of of central characters.

All in all, it's a great yarn. People, places and plot are filled with colour and intrigue and it kept me turning the pages as a great bit of escapist writing. I enjoyed it.
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on 12 January 2012
Yes, yes...it races along and it isn't a book for rocket scientists ( well, it might be) but there is a plot that rips along, and while you know the good guys will win and that old hag ( you'll find out) is an old hag...it grips you all the way with classic, good story telling. And the financial side has tones of today.

This is one of the few books that was worth EVERY. SINGLE. PENNY.
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on 13 March 2004
This is the second Follett Book I've read, after recently reading an old copy and enjoying Pillars of the Earth. Like Pillars, the story is addicting and the thoughts and motives of the characters well described - although sometimes descriptions of what happened in their bedrooms were a little too detailed and tedious for my taste.
The historic backdrop of London City Banking in the late 19th century added a nice depth - especially the implications of the follies of the upper classes and their plotting matriarchs on the common working citizen.
Recommended as an enjoyable diversion for anyone interested in historic fiction, banking, thrillers, and a little romance .. but don't get your expectations too high as considering this a modern literary masterpiece or accurate historic insight.
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on 27 July 2012
"A Dangerous Fortune" is a story about the Pilasters, a large wealthy banking family, spanning three decades in the late 19th century.

Hugh Pilaster is an honest bright young man who is the black sheep of the family due to his late father actions, who left him and his mother penniless. He has to work his way up in the family banking business, proving his worth over and over. Hugh's cousin Edward couldn't be more different: he is a dumb brute, spoiled by his mother Augusta. Augusta is an ambitious woman that dominates the entire family using her social skills, with one purpose alone: reaching social glorification through her husband and son. She will step over anyone who might jeopardize her plans, with the help of Edward's best friend, the attractive and unscrupulous Micky Miranda.

This is a typical Ken Follett story, and you will find a lot of elements similar to other books such as "The Pillars of the Earth". The honorable heroes have to overcome countless difficulties caused by the scheming villains who plot their way up socially and professionally, sparing no means such as gossip, physical aggression, blackmail, murder or even civil wars. All this wrapped up in a high-paced fun story.

Being written in the 1990's, it's curious that some of the events related to the 19th century banking business fit like a glove to the global banking crisis we live today.

+: Light fun read, even though the book is 600 pages long

-: The characters are completely black and white, without any development what-so-ever; the holiest of the saints wouldn't react to adversity as gracefully as Hugh Pilaster

=: If you liked "The Pillars of the Earth" you'll certainly enjoy this
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