There's no doubt about it - Jeffrey Archer's got a gift. At first glance, The 'Sins of the Father' is a heady mix of, well, stuff that Archer's given us before – the prison sentence, the wronged innocent, the devoted partner, who fights against all odds – but he does it so well, and injects more drama than you would think possible! There is also a definite seediness that he depicts.
Pivotal to the plot are children born out of wedlock, illicit affairs, domestic violence and alcohol abuse, as well as illiteracy and a well-entrenched class hierarchy.
A young man is unfairly convicted, lands up in prison, where he impresses everyone including the warden, transforms the library and ends up writing three exercise books full of the matter best-sellers are made of. Where have we heard that before? Oh wait, shades of 'A Prisoner of Birth'? Or possibly this is a bit of an ode to Archer's own time in prison, and his 'Prison Diaries', what?
'The Sins of the Father,' is the second in what is to be a five-book saga, it is a sequel to 'Only Time Will Tell' – one of Archer's that I haven't read, I hasten to add, with all due apologies.
This book is set during the Second World War, with the action moving from England to New York, a ship in between, and also Germany.
Harry Clifton aka the Hero has what seems to be a doomed love affair with the feisty and resourceful Emma. He leaves her to protect her honour and let her get on with her life (not knowing that for those in love, this is clearly impossible). He assumes a new identity that of a Tom Bradshaw, but is then wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, courtesy a nasty shark of a lawyer.
While he does turn things around even in jail, he is so good-natured as to be cheated out of his own potential success, but never fear, he is our Hero, and as such, goes on to greater glory.
We do know of course, that it takes a helluva woman to stand by her man, support him and redress various injustices – Emma is that gallant heroine. I find her spirited and endearing, just as Archer intended.
In a nut-shell that's the story. But the charm is in the secondary characters too, the mother who works herself to the bone, uncomplaining, takes classes to learn how to read, is clearly still a huge hit with the gents, and is finally about to come into some very good fortune.
Now consider this fair warning for those of you prefer them shades of grey! The bad guys are bad to the bone – and quite creepy, I'll have you know... no redemption for them. The good guys are such total heroes, that it's impossible not to like them without just being plain ornery.
That's possibly why I read this Archer cover to cover, agog, just like the days of yore! Archer's still got it (and has the advantage in some of this material, of having been to prison, not to mention being a best-selling author) Having said that, after almost all is resolved, I'm not sure of the need to end on quite the note Archer's chosen, unless of course it's a giant sign spelling 'sequel'. Actually there's another giant sign, spelling Hollywood, given that this book is a racy thriller of a romance.
Great for a light read, and Archer really is master of his craft. The sweetener for India fans? The book released here in the country first, before anywhere else in the world. We love that sort of attention to detail!
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