The Tontine Belle by Elisabeth Kyle

The Tontine Bell by the Scottish author Elisabeth Kyle was first published in 1951.

Jinny Errclestoun has been brought up in England in rather poverty stricken circumstances, but she has always been told of her family’s glory days in 18th century Glasgow when the tobacco business had made some families fabulously wealthy – including the Errclestouns. The American War had changed their circumstances completely though as The Tontine Belle had been fired on by rebels in Baltimore and had sunk. That led to the ruin of the Errclestouns.

When Jinny’s father dies she travels to Glasgow to see the only asset left to her, a damp ruin of a house which had been very grand in the 18th century but was now being used as bedsits for people who couldn’t afford somwhere decent to live. Jinny ends up living there herself with the one other thing that had been left to her by her father, a wooden model of The Tontine Belle.

There’s a bit of a mystery in this tale, but it didn’t go at all the way that I expected it to. However given what went on in Glasgow development-wise in the 1950s and 60s the plot is very much of its time and I enjoyed the way the character of Jinny developed. I’ve only read a few previous books by Elisabeth Kyle, but they had Edinburgh as their setting so it was enjoyable to be in the Glasgow of the 1950s.

4 thoughts on “The Tontine Belle by Elisabeth Kyle

  1. Hi Katrina,
    What a fascinating, colorful book jacket! This does sound fascinating, and to be returned to a beloved city in the early 50s does sound like fun. Where did you find it?

  2. I’ve read several of her children’s books – Princess of Orange was a favorite and I thought about it a lot when I visited Kensington Palace and saw pictures of her – but never came across this one.

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