Members Only: A Year of Short Stories, by Jeffrey Archer

Eight stars

Master storyteller Lord Jeffrey Archer has chosen to please his fans with a new venture; a short story released each month. Those familiar with Archer’s work will know that he can not only spin long and involved pieces, but also the short story that compacts adventure into a handful of pages. I just received my September story and could not wait to get started. Robin Chapman receives a golf ball in his Christmas cracker one year, which begins a life-long love of golf. While he can barely hit the small white sphere when he begins, Robin studies the sport and soon is representing his local club at competitions around Britain. After falling in love, Robin makes the surprising move to Jersey, where he joins the prestigious Royal Jersey Golf Club, or at least puts in an application. After meeting the committee, he is put on a fifteen-year waiting list. Robin reluctantly accepts this delay and undertakes building up his family’s dry cleaning business and serving as an emergency sailor when the need arises. With the German invasion of Jersey during World War II, Robin is forced to bow down to his captors, but finds himself on the right side of a decision to save his life. At the end of the War and with two children of his own, Robin receives word from the Royal Jersey Golf Club. Might this be the news he has wanted for so long? Archer is brilliant in his monthly story delivery. I am always eager to share my sentiments on this author’s classic writing that seems able to stand the test of time. Recommended for those who love a good Archer short story or any reader who needs something to fill a little time in their day!

Lord Jeffrey Archer’s work is always full of unique perspectives, be they complete novels or shorter story such as this one. I am so pleased to have come across this collection and have reviewed each story based on its own merits. Now I await each instalment on a monthly basis, I can hope to find gems amidst all the reading I undertake each year. This was another winner, taking the reader back into that inter-war period in England. Robin Chapman serves as a highly entertaining protagonist, whose life takes him into many roles, all of which he masters. Even with a short piece, Chapman is able to capture the reader’s attention from the early going and interest in him does not wane. Surrounded by a number of secondary character who complement him in his various endeavours, Chapman helps elevate those around him for just long enough to push the narrative in a great direction. The story utilises these characters effectively and keeps the reader enthralled until the final sentence. The story is on par with some of Archer’s other great stories, following a recipe that has brought much success. Archer appears to enjoy thrusting his characters into a ‘forward-moving through history’ formula, which serves to have them influence events while making decisions that shape their own lives. This has been well-developed and keeps the reader enthralled as they try to guess the direction the narrative will take. A wonderful standalone piece that will entertain readers just long enough to finish a warm mug of something (or some such beverage), Archer proves himself as the master.

Kudos, Lord Archer, for a masterful new story collection. How you find so many effective ideas that produce high quality publications I will never know.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: