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The Tontine

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  338 Ratings  ·  28 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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Mar 16, 2009 Sara rated it really liked it
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
Oct 03, 2007 Janice rated it it was amazing
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
Gina Whitlock
Sep 24, 2016 Gina Whitlock rated it it was amazing
Read this for book club. Had never heard of it but it was a wonderful romp of a story taking place in England in the 19th century. I certainly don't know why it's out of print today.
Jason Reeser
Jul 28, 2009 Jason Reeser rated it it was amazing
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!
Nathalie Nelson
Sep 09, 2009 Nathalie Nelson rated it really liked it
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.
E.J. Lamprey
Oct 11, 2013 E.J. Lamprey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-ten
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
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
Dec 28, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it
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
May 02, 2014 Alida rated it really liked 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
Jun 04, 2009 Hannah rated it really liked it
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
Feb 12, 2009 Nikki rated it liked it
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.
Nancy H Vest
Mar 30, 2014 Nancy H Vest rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 30, 2009 Paddy rated it liked it
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 it was amazing
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.
Christin Marcotte
May 02, 2013 Christin Marcotte rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 09, 2012 Lynli rated it really liked it
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.
Judy Muncie
Read these books when I was in my 20's. Reread about every decade since. Needless to say-I loved the story!
Apr 28, 2012 Laurel rated it it was amazing
Read this novel over 35 years ago and read it twice more over the years - need I say more to recommend this classic.
Nov 24, 2008 Lafang rated it liked it
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.
Kaily Sanders
Kaily Sanders rated it it was amazing
Jul 15, 2015
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Jan 29, 2008
Wink rated it it was amazing
Apr 02, 2012
Vicki Brandt
Vicki Brandt rated it liked it
Jul 22, 2011
Carmy rated it it was amazing
Jun 22, 2012
Holly rated it it was amazing
Jun 30, 2013
Eileen Iciek
Eileen Iciek rated it it was amazing
Oct 12, 2012
Jim Frick
Jim Frick rated it it was ok
Jan 12, 2010
Julia rated it it was amazing
Nov 04, 2014
Maureen H
Maureen H rated it really liked it
May 30, 2016
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Cleta V rated it really liked it
Nov 13, 2013
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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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