Ken Follett’s one of my favorite authors and he didn’t disappoint with A Dangerous Fortune, which I bought for my Kindle and I’ve been saving for a while. I decided to read it while traveling to and around Ireland on planes, trains and buses a few weeks ago.
The book begins with a mysterious drowning at an all-boys boarding school in England in 1866, and then follows the lives of the boys present at the drowning as well as some other boys from the school as they enter adulthood in London. The novel centers around the Pilaster’s, an mostly upper class family that runs one of the largest banks in the city. Cousins Edward and Hugh Pilaster were both present at the drowning as kids and grow up to work at the bank. Hugh is poor, hardworking and a brilliant banker, while Edward is wealthy, lazy and inept, and this causes friction between them and the other Pilaster family members as they both try to become partners at the bank.
The other central characters of the novel are Edward’s cunning mother Augusta, who is bound and determined to keep her family’s status and wealth in tact, and his friend Micky (also present at the drowning), who has a dark side and is trying to climb the social ladder in London and impress his father back home in South America. Of course, there are plenty of women around as well, as in most of Follett’s novels, and everyone seems to be lusting after someone other than their husband or wife. And beware, Follett isn’t bashful when it comes to sex scenes.
What I love most about Follett’s writing is the characters he creates. He has the ability to create a large cast of characters, that are either endearing, despicable or somewhere in-between, and then he manages to intertwine their stories in the most engrossing and interesting way. Many of his books are long…but they’re also fast-paced page turners and I always wish they were even longer.
I have Follett’s newest book, Fall of Giants, on my bookshelf ready and waiting (it’s the first book of a trilogy) and this winter I plan on re-reading one of my top 10 favorite books, The Pillars of the Earth, before I read it’s sequel, World Without End. Stay tuned!