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Anthony Adverse

By Hervey Allen

When it was originally published in 1933 Anthony Adverse took the world by storm, selling over three million copies. Epic in scale, set during the early 19C, it is a truly classic swashbuckler, combining superb narrative with excitement, passion and a rich feeling for period. Anthony, an orphan, grows up in a Europe dominated by Napoleon, Pitt and Talleyrand. As the nations succumb to the tramp of the First Consul’s armies, he is propelled into romantic intrigues and daring adventures that take him to Africa, France, Spain, England and America.

This is a dazzling, panoramic novel of immense ambition, split into three parts. Volume one takes us prior to his conception, to the affair between his mother and a young French nobleman. Beautiful, doomed Maria has been married off to a Spanish nobleman twice her age, the sinister Don Luis. Her only child, Anthony, is raised in an Italian convent. He never knew his parents, and is named by the nuns.

At twelve he makes friends with a pupil at the school next door, a little girl named Florence, daughter of the British Consul at Livorno. Guided by the priest Father Xavier, to whom he is as a son, and by his friendship with Florence, he makes his way to Casa Bonnyfeather, house of the Scottish merchant who is in fact his grandfather.

Our hero grows up and forms the relationships that will shape his future. He is seduced by the voracious Faith, housekeeper of the Casa. He sees Florence marry another man, and meets his first love, little Angela. He forms friendships among the apprentices at the Casa, and from his canny Scottish grandfather he learns the tools of finance and trade. Readers will certainly want to follow Anthony’s fortunes in volumes 2 and 3 as he leaves Livorno and goes out into the wider world.

In this beguiling story Hervey Allen sets out the history of power and commerce between Europe and America which shaped the modern world.

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