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The Tontine

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  301 ratings  ·  27 reviews
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. Its cast includes Actors, Kings, Sailors, Artists, etc. It is filled with romance.
Hardcover, 815 pages
Published 1955 by Doubleday
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 471)
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My mom and my Aunt Loa really liked this story. My mom recommended it to me and I am reminded of what great taste my mom has in books! I really enjoyed these books. The books cover over a half a century of time during the 1800's starting with the day of the Battle of Waterloo. The action takes place in England. I thought that this book was absolutely fascinating. The book is follows a man of business along with the ups and downs of business in England and I found it to be completely relevant to ...more
I began reading this book when I was 8 or 9 years old - too young to keep up with all the details - and returned to it off and on for literally decades. Sometimes even making index cards of family trees and such. I finally finished it the summer of 1998 sitting in the car in front of my parents' house. In fact, my sweetie almost lost his head because he sat down and started talking to me as I was finishing the last pages. A testiment to how much I love him that he is still alive today.
Given the
Nathalie Nelson
The first thing I learned was what a tontine was. I had never heard of such an arrangement before. The story was interesting and the characters well drawn. The threads of the story were deftly woven. There is romance, generosity, greed . . indeed the whole range of human emotions. It takes two books to tell the stories of all of the individuals involved in the tontine. This one instance when one finishes a book and wishes there was more that there is more to enjoy.
Jason Reeser
I found this obscure book when I was in eighth grade. It is as good as anything Dickens ever wrote, and I love Dickens. A lottery is set up for people who want to enter their children. When the children become older, the money (which has been invested for decades) begins to pay out, paying more each year as there are fewer surviving members of the Tontine. Love, revenge and wonderful greed ensue!
Ed Lehman
I read this book over 40 years ago when I was a teen..... and loved it. But I really did not remember the book correctly. My memory was of a ribald and comic romp (which it really isn't). The Tontine is a now obsolete life insurance scheme that the characters in the book are subscribed to by their parents. Each year, the surviving subscribers share the dividends. Each year the dividends obviously increase. When only a dozen are left, the hefty dividends become the motive for some greedy misdeeds ...more
E.J. Lamprey
If you believe you will live to be very old, you invest when young in a tontine, and after 20, or 30, however many years, (the tontine period) the sum of money originally invested, plus whatever it earned during the tontine period, starts to pay dividends to the survivors, and continues to do so until the last survivor dies. They were made illegal because of the gambling laws, but I personally feel the government should set them up now so that the very oldest amongst us aren't forced into a penn ...more
Nancy H Vest
I read The Tontine<\i> several years ago on the recommendation of a family member. This historical fiction story tells about the intertwining lives of the members of this tontine. As the story progresses, things become more treacherous and the true colors of people come out. This is a long two-volume story, but it was worth the time it took to read it.
4 1/2 stars.

I first read this book 30+ years ago and enjoyed it all over again. A tontine is a type of lottery. People buy into it, often in the name of their child. The first years no-one collects but after 20 years the survivors start to reap the dividends. Each year the amount grows as people die. The last person standing gets a large amount of money. This story follows the lives of a number of main characters, all involved with a very large tontine. Excellent book; I highly recommend it to
I read this book (930 pages in two volumes) years ago and I remember that I really liked it. I just reread it, and liked it as much as I remembered. A tontine was a kind of annuity/life insurance, where people could invest for themselves or a child, would receive money each year from the growth of the investment, and then would receive much more substantial amounts as the other members of the tontine died and there was more money to go around. The story follows the lives of the characters who we ...more
I read this book when I was about 12 and devoured every page. Certain parts of the story drag a bit, but that's totally understandable since it spans the entire lifetime of several characters. The story centers on people who entered a pool that starts to pay back money after a set number of years (50 seems right, but that might not be the actual number). Whoever is the last to live gets a significant amount of money, which leads to the expected but still surprising consequences of greed. It's re ...more
Julie Cannon
Jan 20, 2014 Julie Cannon marked it as to-read
Mom has this on the list of the best and most memorable books she's ever read.
I actually only read Volume 1 of this, will probably read Volume 2 at some point. I also believe I read it all many years ago. The book follows the fortunes of several people who are involved in a tontine -- a sort of "last man standing" insurance scheme -- in 19th century England. The reason I might not finish is that it appears the "winner" will be one of the most obnoxious characters in the book.
Ok, it was high school in a small town...but Costain's novels took me out of East Tennessee, out of myself. This was my favorite, but I read each voraciously. Somehow Paul Newman ended up playing a slave in an awful, awful film of Below the Salt. Or perhaps another Costain novel. I think adolescents love fiction of another time and place, whether the past or the future.
Jun 18, 2013 Carol rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Carol by: Grandma Tess
I read this enchanting and deadly novel decades ago and loved, loved, loved it. It is about a lottery in which the last one living takes the entire pot, which leads to all sorts of betrayals and twists. I am now selling it for $50 if you are interested.
This is such a great classic read. Throughly enjoyed reading it. Found it at a yard sale for $1.00 and thought I would give it a try. Have since purchased several Costain books. Incredible author.
I read this when I was pretty young.
Even then I found it interesting, realistic, and the characters believable. I reacll feeling like I'd walked back in time.
Christin Marcotte
I read this many years ago and a friend just gave me a copy so I am re-reading it to enjoy it all over again. Costain is a great author.
Read this novel over 35 years ago and read it twice more over the years - need I say more to recommend this classic.
Judy Muncie
Read these books when I was in my 20's. Reread about every decade since. Needless to say-I loved the story!
Very odd sort of gamble that seems to encourage death and disaster, but a fascinating read
Thomas Walsh
If you can find vol one AND two, this is one of the best books I've ever read!! Highly recommended!
The invention of insurance ... and some diabolical twists.

Great fun. Good read.
Barn Grammy

Actually bought my own copies at a library sale in Peoria, AZ.
Elijah Spector
Dec 16, 2008 Elijah Spector marked it as to-read
A two volume monster of historical fiction by Costain... drooool.
Jun 15, 2007 Janna marked it as to-read
This was recommended by a friend - looks interesting.
Kathleen Farmer
I couldn't find Volume 1 listed~ except on audio
Tom Baker
Good. overly long.
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Costain was born in Brantford, Ontario to John Herbert Costain and Mary Schultz. He attended high school there at the Brantford Collegiate Institute. Before graduating from high school he had written four novels, one of which was a 70,000 word romance about Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange. These early novels were rejected by publishers.

His first writing success came in 1902 when the Brantford
More about Thomas B. Costain...
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