Cometh the Hour – my namesake is back

9781250061621_p0_v5_s192x300Dr. Rosemary Wolfe reappears briefly in Jeffrey Archer’s latest installment of The Clifton Chronicles – Cometh the Hour – in the ongoing family saga of the Barringtons (British upstairs) and the Cliftons (the downstairs).   Dr. Wolfe, who won her place as a character name appearing first in the fifth  book – Mightier Than the Sword – has a short cameo, but enough to make me proud.

As I read his latest book, comparisons of Archer and Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, delighted me.  Both keep the action moving by popping back and forth among tense character scenes; both use finite descriptions of places and manners to create the atmosphere; and both authors conveniently tie up plot lines quickly and satisfactorily – despite having to kill off an unsuspecting innocent now and then in shocking end of episode style.

Archer combines the political fervor of the seventies in Great Britain – time of the election of the first woman Prime Minister – with the backrooms of bankers and shipping magnates in developing convoluted plots pitting villains against the good guys, as he continues the family adventures through generations.  One of my favorite lines was Archer’s description of two despicable  villains – “Gone to ground…they’ll resurface in the spring like all pond life…”

The action is pure fun, and if you haven’t discovered this series, you might consider binge reading from the firs book Only Time Will Tell.  I’ve read them all – see my reviews below – and can’t wait for the next, due in November.  I can only hope Dr. Rosemary Wolfe will return.

Only Time Will Tell

Sins of The Father

Best Kept Secret and Be Careful What You Wish For

Mightier Than the Sword – and my fifteen minutes

Mightier Than the Sword – and my fifteen minutes

9781250034519_p0_v1_s260x420My fifteen minutes of fame came as a character in Jeffrey Archer’s latest installment of the Clifton Chronicles – Mightier Than the Sword.

Rarely do I enter contests; even more rarely do I win one – yet, Jeffrey Archer picked me. My prize – my name as a character in his next book – Mightier Than the Sword. Although I was hoping to be the evil mastermind, my namesake is a minor character appearing only briefly but consistently. Maybe you can find it – if you don’t blink.

If you are a fan of the Clifton Chronicles, you are primed to expect adventure and sabotage,  connecting the network of established characters in the Barrington and Clifton family trees.  Harry Clifton uses the book’s opening bombing incident on his wife’s new ocean liner as fodder for his latest successful spy thriller, and remains true to his moral compass as well as his penchant for crime solving, as Archer weaves Harry into a Russian undercover plot to suppressing state secrets reminiscent of a Solzhenitsyn exposé.  Emma, Chair of Barrington Shipping Company, faces her own issues with old nemesis Virginia, beautiful ex-wife of her brother Giles.  Sebastian, son of Harry and Emma, now a young handsome finance wizard, had my undivided attention, since he is the character who interacts with my namesake – on more than one occasion.  More characters reappear, but Archer carefully provides background for anyone who has not read the previous books in the series.  If you are a new fan, you might consider starting at the beginning with a binge-read, saving yourself from the angst of the inevitable cliff-hanging ending.

Reading an Archer novel is like watching an episode of your favorite television series.  The plot twists are usually surprising, the villains sometimes win the battles, the heroes are vulnerable, and satisfying solutions usually prevail.  I dare you to not read the books quickly as I do, furiously seeking the next outcome.  Maybe in the next installment, Dr. Rosemary Wolfe will return and play a bigger role in Sebastian’s life – I hope so.

Related Reviews: Previous books in The Clifton Chronicles

Making the List

k0091272Although I faithfully note new books I want to read,  I can never be number one on the library wait list.  It doesn’t help that the book is not yet listed when I log in, anxious to find it.  It doesn’t help that the library “wish list” can only include books in cataloguing.  Mostly, it doesn’t help that I forget about the book until I see another ad or review – usually weeks later.  By then, other more diligent readers have already ordered the book, and I am number 198 for the new Jeffrey Archer, or 20 for Donna Leon’s new mystery, and still holding at 14 for The Luminaries.   Is it any wonder that my electronic book bill has soared?  Sometimes, I just can’t wait.

A friend recently sent me an article from the Washington Post about the slow-reading movement and the effects of digital reading on the brain – Serious Reading Takes A Hit from Online Scanning and Skimming.  It struck me as I “skimmed” the article that library users may be promoters of this movement, sometimes forcing me to revert to digital text that may be eroding what is left of my brain.  Michael Rosenwald writes in the Post:

Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on… Reading in print even gave us a remarkable ability to remember where key information was in a book simply by the layout…We’d know a protagonist died on the page with the two long paragraphs after the page with all that dialogue.

The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. This is nonlinear reading…

Will we become Twitter brains?”

I worry that books will disappear – like bookstores.  I happily still prefer holding the pages and flipping back to remember who died – harder to do on an e-book, even with those red bookmarks.  But when the wait is long, and the price is right, those electronic books fill my need every time.   How about you?

 

 

 

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Looking Forward to Reading in 2014

Finding a favorite author can lead to fervent stalking of their next publication.  Writers do not always churn out stories quickly enough to appease the appetites of their anxious readers, but expectations run high when a new book is coming.  Here are a few I am looking forward to reading in 2014:

From Favorite Authors:

Sarah Addison Allen: Lost Lake  {January}

JoJo Moyes: The One Plus One {February|}

Jeffrey Archer: Be Careful What You Wish For (Clifton Chronicles cont.) – {March}

Emma Donoghue: Frog Music {April}

Harriet Lane (author of Alys Always) – Her   {June}

Deborah Harkness: The Book of Life (continues story of witch Diana Bishop) – {July}

And from a new author:    Vivien Shotwell:  Vienna Nocturne  {February}

Do you have any books on your 2014 reading list?  happy_new_year_background_vector_illustration_267362

Have a Happy New Year of  reading!

Best Kept Secret and Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer

9781250000989_p0_v3_s260x420The third book in Jeffery Archer’s saga of the Clifton and Barrington families – Best Kept Secret – resolves the inheritance issues from the second book, and introduces the next generation.  Sebastian, son of Emma Barrington and Harry Clifton, manages to uphold the family drama with his own escapades; one involves  Third Reich money laundered through a South American villain.  Beware – the ending is another cliff hanger, but since the principals of soap operas rarely die, the probable outcome is predictable.

My library request was granted the day before I was to leave on a trip.  Thinking I would savor the easy drama on my red-eye flight, I checked out the “hot pick” (due back in 7 days) – but couldn’t resist and read the book in a sitting the night before leaving.  Fast-paced fun family drama with a few diversions in the simple plotting.  If you are a fan, this book is the midpoint in the series, and Archer doesn’t keep readers waiting long for the next installment.

Be Careful What You Wish For

9781250034489_p0_v1_s260x420Almost a year later, the next installment of the Clifton Chronicles has appeared, with Harry a successful best-selling novelist and Emma as Chair of the Board.  This time someone significant does die unexpectedly in the middle of the story, but the drama continues as the Barringtons have their first luxury liner ship ready to sail.  The family may narrowly escape a financial destruction but the family nemesis, Martinez, may be leaving behind two sons bent for revenge.  Some of the principals may not survive the final pages with an IRA bomb imbedded in a vase of lilies.    – until the next installment.

Although Archer fills in the back story for those who either have not read the first few books – or for those, like me, with bad memories of who is who, I’m starting to think it would be more fun to read them in tandem – a marathon read that would take one cliffhanger into the next without as much of a wait.  Then I might remember who the good guys and bad guys are.

Reviews for Books One and Two: