Anthony Adverse

by Hervey Allen
List(s):"Carp 500"
Category: "Fiction - Historical"
Year of Publication:1933
Date Read:10/13/1994
Notes:Anthony begins life in the French alps, the product of a tryst between an Italian marquise and her young lover. When the father is slain by the jealous marquis and the mother dies in childbirth, their child is left on the doorstep of a convent. By a miraculous coincidence, Anthony apprentices to his maternal grandfather's mercantile business, which he eventually inherits — only to squander his good fortune in an aimless sea voyage and languish brokenhearted in the West Indies. Finally returning home, he reunites with his first love and struggles to regain his lost business
My Rating: 8

Reviews for Anthony Adverse

Review - Anthony Adverse

Spanish nobleman Don Luis finds out his young English wife is pregnant by another man. He kills his wife’s lover and mistreats his wife so that she dies in childbirth. The son grows up in an Italian monastery where he is give the name of Anthony Adverse. When he is 10, Anthony follows a young girl named Florence to her home. He is soon sent as an apprentice to a rich trader (who unbeknownst to all, happens to be his grandfather). He grows up there and falls in love with Angela, a servant girl. Business takes him to Cuba where he falls in love with a noblewoman named Dolores. He has now met the three women, Florence, Angela and Dolores who pop in and out of his life with amazing frequency.

He becomes a slave trader in Africa for three years, then returns to Italy. Florence has just gotten married, so Anthony goes to Paris with Vincent, his childhood friend, who is now a rich banker. The two are chased on the journey by Don Luis who has discovered who Anthony is and hates him because of his mother’s infidelity. The two meet Napoleon and get involved with European finance. Anthony visits England, and when he returns to France he discovers that his old friend Angela has 1) had Anthony’s child, and 2) become Napoleon’s mistress.

Anthony then travels to Spain on banking business where he makes a truce with Don Luis and meets Dolores again. He doesn’t stay, however, but goes to New Orleans where he becomes a rich banker and landowner. He meets Florence, who is now a widow and they get married and have a child, but Florence and the child soon die in a fire.

Anthony wanders off into the American wilderness and lives alone for several years until he is captured by Indians. He escapes and travels to Mexico where he is arrested as a spy. Don Luis is now the Mexican governor, and when he sees Anthony he has a stroke and dies — but not before condemning Anthony to a leper’s prison. That’s where Dolores finds him when she goes to the prison on a charity mission. She gets Anthony out of prison and they get married. They live on a mountain top and have two girls and are very happy until Anthony kills himself with an axe.

Throughout the entire story, Anthony carries with him a small Madonna that had belonged to his mother. He talks to it and worships it. It was the only thing rescued from the fire that killed Florence, and Anthony keeps it in a bag around his neck. After he dies, Dolores leaves it in their house. Years later, it is found by pioneers and used for shooting practice.

The book was excellent in places, dry in others. Anthony’s life in the monastery, Cuba, Africa and New Orleans is exciting. The financial centers of Europe and the American wilderness less so. Allen weaves a thread of religion through the book, a weird combination of Catholicism and mysticism, centered on the Madonna. Every 50 pages or so, Allen spends a couple pages trying to explain it in Anthony’s words. I skimmed these sections because they made no sense.

The book ended weakly. From the time of the fire in New Orleans until Anthony kills himself, the plot is weak. The deal with him constantly meeting his three lovers and fathering children with each of them was forced. But again, at times it was very interesting. In a book this big, there are bound to be flaws.
Back to the list