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This Was a Man: The Final Volume of The Clifton Chronicles Hardcover – November 8, 2016
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“Archer continues his storytelling magic to create characters of spellbinding substance, and readers can count on his surprising twists and shocking conclusion. Here, just when the end seems too tidy, Archer provides a killer cliffhanger.”―Publishers Weekly on The Clifton Chronicles
“Archer packs a plot with thrills and chills enough for readers to keep turning the pages, saying, What's gonna happen next?...The conclusion's a turbo-charged cliffhanger that'll have fans screaming Arrrcherr!”―Kirkus Reviews on Mightier Than the Sword
“Archer’s…tight plotting makes for a page-turning rich man’s soap opera…Entertaining.”―Kirkus Reviews on Be Careful What You Wish For
About the Author
JEFFREY ARCHER was educated at Oxford University. He has served five years in Britain's House of Commons and twenty-four years in the House of Lords. All of his novels and short story collections―including Cometh the Hour, the instant #1 New York Times bestseller―have been international bestselling books. Archer is married with two sons and lives in London and Cambridge.
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Top Customer Reviews
The cliffhanger ending of the previous novel proceeded more or less as expected in this one, so there weren't any surprises.
Jeffrey Archer could have done with a proofreader of the quality Harry Clifton enjoyed in this novel. Some of the medical details he includes are just wrong, and even if they were, events wouldn't have happened the way described (I won't reveal the details in case it's a spoiler). Anyway - a Sotheby's auctioneer would never refer to the Emperor Jiaqing (Jiaqing is the name of an era, not a person). It's the Jiaqing Emperor.
It's a very satisfying series. In a few years, I'll probably go back and reread them, one after the other (it's actually the best way of reading them - not having to wait a year for each new one to be published).
The finale covers 24 years concluding in 1992. At that point, does it really matter? Giles Barrington and Harry are 72, Emma 71. It was hard imagining them at that age.
The last pages were written beautifully by Archer and I did shed a tear.
However, as we went one last time through the lives of Sebastian and Samantha, the wild adventures of their now college-age daughter, Jessica, (and now there’s a second child, Jake); Giles and Karin (she lives after the cliffhanger end of Book 6, Cometh the Hour), Grace Barrington, Lady Virginia Fenwick, and Harry and Emma, I found myself wondering “so what?”
This was particularly the case with the nefarious Fenwick. Her scheme to defraud a Louisiana businessman by having him pay support for her alleged child by him is uncovered. She is involved in two more schemes. One, Giles has to recruit her for Sebastian and Farthings Kaufman Bank, who decide to help the evil Demond Muller, who was imprisoned, while the “eviler” Adrian Sloane got off scot free in a scheme against the bank. Sebastian ends up having to go to Chicago in search of Muller’s estranged daughter, who is listed as the sole heir. He finds a woman with a child in an abusive relationship and rescues them. She and Fenwick have already worked out a plot.
Even worse, Fenwick zeroes in on a widower duke at the wife’s funeral, in order to get money to pay a debt, and marries him, envisioning inheritance. The family gets the better of her, but somehow Virginia still ends up ahead. Why? When was she going to get her due? But, did we need any more of her in the penultimate edition? What did this add to the story?
A nice thing happens to Freddie, the “fake child” she has stashed in a boarding school and had her brother tend to, never visiting. Giles and Karin adopt him, though Giles and Freddie’s love of cricket may have played a role. :)
Another special moment is Emma and Giles debating the merits of the new health bill in the House of Commons, Emma from the Conservative view representing the government, Giles from the Labour side. Would Giles experience and oratory win out over Emma’s measured delivery and facts?
The politics of the family fascinated me. Harry overcame his poverty as a child to attend good schools and become a world renowned writer of detective stories and advocate of an imprisoned Russian writer. Yet, he was a Conservative. Giles, raised in wealth, went to the Labour side. We never know if he was influenced by Harry’s life. Yet, the family worked in Giles’ campaigns and voted for him.
Then Emma became enamored of Thatcher and vice versa. No one in the family joined Labour, though you couldn’t quite tell about Karin. Why? Archer is Conservative, which makes this aspect interesting.
It was also impressive how much Archer knew about political protocol, ins and outs, banking and wills.
At the end, what did we have after seven books and 72 years? Harry was de facto the main character, but breaking the books into sections about the different people, made the family the focus. Until the last section, Harry was in the background. At the end, you have a strong love story, of Harry and Emma. Emma picked out Harry after meeting him for the first time when she was 11 and he was 12. You also have the more than 60-year friendship of Giles and Harry. You have a family, despite being involved in so many public “trials” stuck together.
Archer’s women characters are also inspirational. Harry’s mother, Maisie, worked herself from waitress to owning a restaurant, trying to earn enough money to pay the tuition for Harry to attend school. Before she dies she tells Emma she has the ability to do more with her life.
Emma didn’t have to work. She became the first woman chairman of Barrington Shipping, building new liners despite the rise of air travel. Then, she chaired the board of a hospital, before joining Thatcher’s cabinet.
The Barrington who doesn’t get much attention, Giles and Emma’s younger sister, Grace, is a well-respected professor.
Karin was a spy, then double agent. She gets Giles to accompany her to Berlin to help in the destruction of the Berlin Wall. She also medals in a marathon.
In the end, it comes back to Harry. (Avoiding spoiler).
English family, thus satisfying the Anglophiles among us. But with this final volume I concluded that it should have ended with the previous book, like some TV series that went one year too long.
The plot twists are terrific as they spun the story in another direction. This Was a Man tied up all the loose ends but when I thought I figured out the ending, the author had me fooled. I enjoyed the journey of all seven books.
Timothy Glass author of Just This Side of Heaven and Postcards