Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

Two ambitious families become entangled in a web of deceit, scandal, and murder as they battle for power and wealth in Victorian England.


In "A Dangerous Fortune" by Ken Follett, readers are transported to the late 19th century, where the worlds of finance, power, and deception collide. Set in London, this gripping historical novel takes readers on a journey through the corrupt and ruthless world of banking and the lengths individuals will go to protect their fortunes.

Brief Synopsis

"A Dangerous Fortune" is set in 1866 and revolves around the prestigious Pilaster family. The story begins with the sudden and mysterious death of a young boy, Toby Pilaster, during a school cricket match. This tragic event sets off a chain of events that will shape the lives of the Pilaster family and their associates.

The Pilasters are a wealthy banking family who own a renowned London bank, Pilaster's Bank. As the story unfolds, readers are introduced to the main characters who are entangled in a web of love, ambition, and betrayal. The plot is fueled by the desire for wealth and power, and the lengths people will go to secure their financial future.

Main Characters

Character NameDescription
Hugh PilasterAmbitious and intelligent, Hugh is determined to secure his place in the family bank.
Maisie RobinsonA beautiful and cunning woman who seeks to marry into wealth and power.
Joseph PilasterThe patriarch of the Pilaster family and a powerful figure in the banking world.
Augusta PilasterJoseph's wife, who is driven by her own ambitions and desires.
Solly GreenbourneA charismatic and charming young man who befriends Hugh and becomes entangled in the Pilaster family drama.

Summary of Different Story Points over Chapters

Chapter 1 - The Tragedy Strikes

The novel begins with the tragic death of Toby Pilaster, a young boy from the Pilaster family, during a cricket match. The circumstances surrounding his death are suspicious, leading to speculation and intrigue amongst the characters.

Chapter 2 - Family Dynamics Unveiled

Readers are introduced to the Pilaster family, their wealth, and their influence in the banking world. The dynamics between the various family members are revealed, showcasing their ambitions and desires.

Chapter 3 - The Pilaster Bank in Crisis

A financial crisis hits the Pilaster Bank, jeopardizing the family's fortune and reputation. Hugh Pilaster, the ambitious young heir to the family legacy, takes it upon himself to save the bank and restore the family's honor.

Chapter 4 - Love and Deception

Romantic entanglements and secret affairs emerge, blurring the lines of loyalty and trust. Maisie Robinson, a cunning and beautiful woman, manipulates the men around her to secure her own financial future.

Chapter 5 - Betrayal and Revenge

As the plot thickens, betrayal and revenge come to the forefront. Characters scheme and plot against one another, using any means necessary to protect their own interests.

Chapter 6 - The Climactic Showdown

The story reaches its climax as the secrets and deceptions of the characters are revealed. The fate of the Pilaster family and the future of their banking dynasty hang in the balance.

Main Events

  1. The death of Toby Pilaster during the cricket match sets off a chain of events.
  2. The Pilaster family faces a financial crisis, threatening their wealth and reputation.
  3. Romantic entanglements and secret affairs complicate relationships within the story.
  4. Characters scheme and plot against each other, leading to betrayal and revenge.
  5. The secrets and deceptions of the characters are revealed in a climactic showdown.

Themes and Insights

The Corrupting Influence of Power and Wealth

"A Dangerous Fortune" explores the corrupting influence of power and wealth on individuals and society as a whole. Characters are driven by their desire for financial success, leading them to engage in manipulation, deceit, and betrayal.

Gender Roles and Expectations

The novel also delves into the expectations and limitations placed on individuals based on their gender. Women like Maisie Robinson navigate a world where their value is often determined by their ability to secure a wealthy marriage.

Loyalty and Betrayal

The theme of loyalty and betrayal runs throughout the story. Characters must navigate their allegiances carefully, as trust is often shattered and alliances shift.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Dangerous Fortune" is a captivating historical novel that transports readers to a world of greed, power, and deception. Ken Follett masterfully weaves together a tale of ambition and betrayal, keeping readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.


"A Dangerous Fortune" by Ken Follett is a thrilling historical novel that explores the dark underbelly of the banking world in the late 19th century. Through a cast of complex and intriguing characters, Follett tells a tale of ambition, deceit, and the lengths people will go to protect their fortunes. With its gripping plot and insightful themes, this novel is sure to captivate readers from beginning to end.

A Dangerous Fortune FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'A Dangerous Fortune'?

    The genre of 'A Dangerous Fortune' is historical fiction.

  2. Who is the author of 'A Dangerous Fortune'?

    The author of 'A Dangerous Fortune' is Ken Follett.

  3. When was 'A Dangerous Fortune' published?

    'A Dangerous Fortune' was published in 1993.

  4. What is the setting of 'A Dangerous Fortune'?

    The setting of 'A Dangerous Fortune' is Victorian England.

  5. What is the main plot of 'A Dangerous Fortune'?

    The main plot of 'A Dangerous Fortune' revolves around a family's dark secrets, financial scandals, and the quest for power and revenge.

  6. Who are the main characters in 'A Dangerous Fortune'?

    The main characters in 'A Dangerous Fortune' include Hugh Pilaster, Maisie Robinson, Edward Pilaster, Augusta Pilaster, and Micky Miranda.

  7. Is 'A Dangerous Fortune' part of a series?

    'A Dangerous Fortune' is a standalone novel and is not part of a series.

  8. What are some similar books to 'A Dangerous Fortune'?

    Some similar books to 'A Dangerous Fortune' include 'The Pillars of the Earth' and 'World Without End' by Ken Follett.

  9. Is 'A Dangerous Fortune' suitable for young readers?

    'A Dangerous Fortune' contains adult themes and content, so it may not be suitable for young readers.

  10. Has 'A Dangerous Fortune' been adapted into a movie or TV series?

    As of now, 'A Dangerous Fortune' has not been adapted into a movie or TV series.