Five stars (of five)
Jeffrey Archer at his finest, beginning a heptalogy sure to entertain throughout. Harry Clifton comes from a poor family, where every benefit is earned and each hardship a hurdle. When he meets Giles Barrington he soon forges a life-long friendship, even if they come from different social circles. Clifton forges ahead to make a name for himself, while living under the shadow of never having met his father. While Clifton presumes Arthur Clifton died on the battlefields, the truth is known to a select few that he was involved in a horrific workplace incident, at the hands of Hugo Barrington. The reader also learns of Clifton’s mother, Maisie, who seeks to put a troubled past out of her mind and make a name for herself, all while concerned that Harry might discover the truth about his father. As the story progresses, Harry continues to be scholastically sound, but his heart remains weak when it coms to young Emma Barrington, sister of Giles and eldest daughter of Hugo. Harry and Emma build a love deeply rooted in honesty, but may face insurmountable challenges because of one lie. As Harry deals with revelations on his wedding day, he flees and finds himself in a web of lies and legal troubles on the shores of New York, as the reader stares into the abyss at the wonderful cliffhanger left at the end of the tale. Archer begins the series with a splendid foundation, sure to offer many offshoots in the coming books.
The book has the flavour of Follett’s Century series and Rutherfurd’s multi-generational novels, where the reader must pay attention not only to the story, but also the collection of characters and their nuances. Archer singles himself out by using seven narrators to tell the same story from their own point of view. These narratives add more to the story in a powerful and progressive manner. This is sure to keep readers wondering what lies ahead, the test of a well-crafted novel. So far things flow nicely and the characters come to life in true Archer fashion. However, no one is safe and no storyline is sure to remain on the straight and narrow.
Kudos Mr. Archer for this wonderful introduction, with a number of great cliffhangers and dramatic twists. Bring on the next volume, posthaste.