With the same fast-paced intensity as the six books leading up to this final entry in The Clifton Chronicles, Jeffrey Archer’s This Was a Man leads the reader back to the family saga of the Barringtons and the Cliftons. Although the last two books included my name ( a result of winning a contest), this final volume has no Ph.D. with good advice. The main characters do return, and Archer successfully reminds the reader of past adventures but it would be easier to binge read all the books together – if you could.
Cunard has bought out the Barrington ocean liners, Harry has been knighted, and Margaret Thatcher is in office, with Emma newly appointed to championing a health care bill. Villains return too, with Lady Virginia artfully and greedily worming her evil through the scenes.
Archer skillfully addresses each family member in the line, providing successful outcomes as their lives continue to develop and interact. Despite the novel’s length and the complications of following a number of characters across dissecting story lines, Archer has the unique ability to maintain clarity, helping the reader follow with anticipation and sometimes with empathy, as he weaves his storytelling drama across generations.
The character Harry Clifton offers an undeniable clue to the ending of Archer’s last volume – it really is the end – and Archer uses his last pages to revisit highlights of his previous six novels. The family saga is over. But maybe it will reappear someday as a modern Forsythe Saga in a BBC special drama series. I would welcome it to my Sunday nights.
Although the source of most of my books is the local library, I sometimes get impatient waiting for a bestseller. Who wants to read one a year after the excitement fades? And Audible has lately caught my attention and dollars, giving me companionship when I walk. My bookshelf is small these days, and I tend to be cautious in purchasing new books to crowd those I’ve chosen to keep forever. Nevertheless, circumstances, the news, and my own procrastination have motivated me to buy a few books I might otherwise have not.
Hamilton by Ron Chernow
After borrowing this tome of over seven hundred pages from the library – twice – and returning the book not finished, I discovered the paperback version has been published. Someday I will take a long flight again, and then it will be with me.
Bob Dylan – The Lyrics
After Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, I wondered if I had missed something. His familiar lyrics from “Blowin’in the Wind,” written in 1962 have a message still applicable today, but what of his others? Downloading the sample book to my iPhone gave me a few, appropriately stopping at “Mixed Up Confusion” – my sentiments lately after the recent Presidential election. I decided more of Dylan’s poetry might be the salve I need now.
This Was a Man
Jeffrey Archer’s last book in The Clifton Chronicles could not wait. Will my namesake be back? I want to know what happens – now.