- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press (November 6, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250172500
- ISBN-13: 978-1250172501
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 58 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Heads You Win: A Novel Hardcover – November 6, 2018
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“Archer, no stranger to sprawling epics, covers three decades in the life of Alex/Sasha, working his way to a stunning conclusion that packs a wallop. Typical for an Archer novel, the writing and characterizations are superb, and the book features several plot twists that send the story lines off in surprising new directions. There are a couple of moments, late in the novel, that should make readers’ jaws drop – moments so unexpected and surreal that they require a second reading, just to make sure we really just read what we think we did. A splendid novel, featuring one of Archer’s most elegantly told stories.” – Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
JEFFREY ARCHER was educated at Oxford University. He served five years as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons and has served twenty-six years as a Member of the House of Lords. Now published in 97 countries and more than 37 languages, all of his novels and short story collections―including Kane & Abel, Only Time Will Tell and This Was a Man―have been international bestsellers. Jeffrey is married with two sons and three grandchildren, and lives in London, Cambridge and Majorca.
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Alexander Karpenko was born in Leningrad and grew up there residing in a small apartment with his mother and father. His thoughts were of going to work as a laborer and perhaps becoming a foreman someday. Fate intervenes when his father is assassinated by the Russian KGB afterbeginning to form a union to aid the workers he supervises. Elena, Alexander's mother had worked as a chef in the kitchen preparing the meals for the workers in his father's crew. She now has to work more hours and catches the eye of a supervisor who has lusted after her and now feels free to begin forcing her to do his will since her husband is dead. Alexander sees him backing his mother into a corner and smashes him with a board to save her.
This is the prelude to the story and the experiment tried by Mr Archer. Alexander's uncle steps in and helps him and Elena flee Russia. Getting them to the docks where two ships are preparing to sail and Alexander has to choose which one to go on. One is bound for Southampton and the other to New York. Two concurrent stories are told throughout the remainder of the book. One in which the pair board the ship bound for England and the other for the United States. In one story Alexander enters politics and in the other becomes a businessman. He is successful at both endevours and we follow him and Elena as they progress in their new lives.
It appeared to me that Mr Archer had the makings of two separate books just by changing the names of the characters involved in one. Following along is not the problem it would seem to warrant and that is the best reason to finish the book. I'm sure that the author meant this as an experiment knowing that his reputation would support sufficient interest. I admire the attempt, but trust that Jeffrey Archer will keep to his normal format and his usual method of keeping his readers memorized.
There must be a logical ending to this novel and that it is, but flat and my reaction was ????
In a different approach, Mr Archer takes us on a tale of the lives of Sasha and Alexander who escape from Russian tyranny. A crate, several bottles of vodka and the toss of a coin take our protagonist(s) to America and England to make new lives for themselves and their mothers. Hard work, ingenuity and lots of luck lead them back to Russia, with an unexpected twist at the end.
A little long to get to the climax, the reader must determine if it’s Sasha’s life that’s the real one, or is it Alexander’s as we follow them both through their transformations? Do not peek or you will ruin the story for yourself.