A tremendous book -- physically and intellectually, if that is the proper word to use there. A canvas that covers Europe and America from the troubled days preceding the French Revolution through the Napoleonic period and the readjustments following the Louisiana Purchase in America. And each ""act"" has all the properties intact, costumes, stage sets, incidental music. What a wealth of material for several books is here and why did the author try to combine it into one man's life-time? One starts out with a feeling that here is Dumas come to life. At times there is a bit of James Joyce intermingled, rather incongruously. Again, though not often, it becomes somewhat didactic. Anthony Adverse is the name given a child who had been left at the gates of a convent, who has been brought up by the nuns, with the help of the father confessor, and who is finally apprenticed to a rich merchant, a Britisher of Jacobite leanings, exiled to Italy. The new master turns out to be the grandfather -- who had been left in ignorance of the facts of his daughter's death and of the birth of her bastard child. The long arm of coincidence plays too important a part throughout Anthony's career, which is a colorful one, carrying him to the height of success, social and financial, and to the depths of depravity. The story is too long, and not big enough in fundamentals to warrant its length.