- Series: The Clifton Chronicles (Book 3)
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (April 30, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 125000098X
- ISBN-13: 978-1250000989
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,411 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Best Kept Secret (The Clifton Chronicles) Hardcover – April 30, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. An artful blend of colorful characters, seething resentment, calculated revenge, and a shocking, tragic cliffhanger distinguishes Archer's third volume of The Clifton Chronicles. Picking up where The Sins of the Father left off, readers discover whether Giles Barrington or Harry Clifton will inherit the late Hugo Barrington's fortune. Harry becomes a successful novelist and marries his true love Emma Barrington; they adopt a daughter with a secret past to join their son Sebastian. Poor smitten, likeable Giles, fighting for his political life as a member of Parliament, is lovesick for the scheming, vindictive Lady Virginia, whom he marries. Sensing disaster, on her death bed Lady Elizabeth Barrington writes Lady Virginia out of the will, prompting the unpopular Lady Virginia to enlist Giles' nemesis, Major Alex Fisher, as she plots her way to the Barrington fortune. Sebastian becomes a young man, sowing his wild oats and naively getting mixed up with a school chum's nefarious father and his sketchy business. Business-savvy Emma earns a college degree, intending to join the family shipping empire. Archer provides a pitch-perfect continuation of the Clifton family saga; his shrewd twists and turns are addictive from the get-go, and he stuns with his signature series sign-off, a cliffhanger leaving readers longing for its resolution. (May)
Archer’s epic-sized family saga, the Clifton Chronicles, continues in this third volume (following The Sins of the Father, 2012). It’s the 1950s, and Harry Clifton and his best friend (and possibly half-brother), Giles Barrington, are battling over who will inherit the estate and title of Hugo Barrington. The outcome of the battle sparks one of the book’s main story lines, which involves a shocking revelation in Hugo’s will and what that spells for Giles’ seemingly happy marriage and perhaps his career as a member of Parliament. Meanwhile, Harry, a best-selling author, has his own problems: his son is refused admission to a tony grammar school and soon gets mixed up in some unsavory goings-on. Running underneath everything is the story that forms the spine of the saga: the relationship between Harry and Giles, boyhood friends whose mutual affection is threatened by the demands of adulthood. No family saga would be complete without a villain, and this book has a good one, a well-drawn and believable character whose motivations are understandable. This thoroughly engaging old-school, multigenerational saga harks back to the work of Malcolm Macdonald, Belva Plain, and Irwin Shaw. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Archer has backed up a long-running track record for commercial fiction with a powerful social network, including 142,000 likes on Facebook. --David Pitt
Top customer reviews
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Today, it is hard to find books that don't have the three things mentioned above. It is my conviction that only mediocre writers (with a few exceptions) have to resort to sex, violence, and/or language to engage the reader. So far Archer's books have been "page turners," and I plan to keep reading them. I would recommend them to all my friends who love to read!
The saga has moved into the nineteen fifties. Women are taking their place in the workforce and starting to be heard more in politics. History moves quietly in the background in this book. But isn't that just way of life? Rarely do we live with historic bombshells on a daily basis. Yes, there is the occasional blast that shakes us to our core, but history is there being made quietly on a daily basis. I like that about this author and his writing style.
This author has more than his share of critics and that's only to be expected. But in my opinion, Jeffrey Archer writes a good tale and keeps me coming back for more.
There is nothing wrong with the writing. Archer may suffer from the same difficulty as other series books. The author doesn’t seem to know when to end the penultimate book. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson finale, The Last Olympian, and Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins’ crescendo of The Hunger Games, weren’t bad books, but they could have ended sooner.
So much happened in Best Kept Secret and then in the last 30% (Kindle language) it went in a totally unexpected direction. The answer to the end of the book’s latest unknown secret now must wait until whenever Book 4 comes out.
Archer uses an interesting technique. He separates the books by devoting sections to each main character and what happens to them in a year or years. He used this method in a previous book I read.
Most of the books are situated in Bristol, England. It begins in 1920. The main Clifton is Harry. What we know for sure is his mother is Maise Clifton. They are poor, working class people who live with her parents and brother. Shortly before she is to marry Arthur Clifton, a dock worker at the Bristol Docklands, Maise has a one-time tryst with Hugo Barrington, whose family owns the Bristol shipping company. Arthur mysteriously disappears shortly after he and Maise are married, so she suspects Harry’s father may be Hugo Barrington. In Harry’s early years, he finds a mentor in Old Jack Tar, a World War I hero, who lives in an old train carriage at the docks.
Harry’s singing voice earns him a place at exclusive St. Bedes, and then Bristol Grammar School. His best friend is Giles Barrington, son of Hugo, despite their different social classes. Harry is the better student; Giles is proficient at cricket. Giles has two sisters, Emma and Grace. The three of them and their mother do not understand why Hugo discourages the friendship. As Harry is three weeks older than Giles, Hugo realizes Harry may actually be the heir to the Barrington estate. This is the overriding mystery throughout the series, rather than a dead body, find the murderer.
Harry and Emma fall in love during their teens and want to marry. At the ceremony, Old Jack steps forward and says Harry and Emma may have the same father. Maise admits to the one-time tryst, while Hugo slips out of the church.
Just before World War II, Harry joins a naval ship – with the help of Giles’ grandfather – and the ship is sunk. Harry and an American survive, but after the American dies, Harry assumes the other’s identity and goes to America, where upon arrival, he is arrested for murder. End of Only Time Will Tell.
In The Sins of the Father, Giles and Harry (after he is released from prison) become war heroes. Harry then embarks on a career as a best-selling mystery writer. Hugo goes to London and eventually moves in with a Jewish refugee. He comes back to Bristol after his father dies to take over the business. He is killed and an infant is found in his office. His death in 1943 opens the gates as to whether Harry or Giles is the rightful heir. Harry has no interest in the estate, only wanting to marry Emma. He and Giles are still good friends. This becomes a cause celebré in England with divisions along class lines.
There were no paternity tests back then. The decision reaches the House of Lords. Best Kept Secret opens with the Lord Chancellor having to break a tie. He rules for Giles, leaving Harry and Emma free to marry. Giles becomes a Member of Parliament, oddly as a member of the Labour Party.
Emma tracks down the child that had been found in her father’s office, to adopt, and join their son, Sebastian. She, Harry, Giles, and Grace know that Jessica could well be their half-sister. Next, Giles contests his mother’s will in 1951, and then, he has a tough re-election campaign.
All of that takes up most of Best Kept Secret,and then Archer takes the story off somewhere else. Sebastian is about to head to Cambridge in 1958, when the father of a friend hires Sebastian to bring a shipment back from Argentina. Sebastian is not aware of the (secret) nefarious plot. After his return, Sebastian and his friend are driving to Cambridge. That’s where Best Kept Secret ends.