Book Review: This Was a Man by Jeffrey Archer

12:17:00 PM

The cover art of This Was a Man by Jeffrey Archer featuring a lone figure of a man walking through snow towards a manor house.
This Was a Man by Jeffrey Archer
After a long wait, the last installment of the Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer came out in India. This Was a Man by Jeffrey Archer launched in India on November 22nd, 2016. There was a meet-the-author and book launch event in Bangalore, which i was very eager to go to but the logistics did not work out and i missed it. But i was very excited about the book. So i did what i usually do: buy it on Google Play (here). And, of course, read.

Having read the first 6 books in the series as they came, i had certain expectations of the last book in the series: This Was a Man.

The first six books trace the lives of  a few characters, revolving primarily around Giles Barrington, his friend Harry Clifton, Emma Barrington (later Clifton),  and their growing families, with other characters weaving in and out of the narratives. Slowly other characters also gain a recurring strong presence. While the ones already mentioned are predominantly the good guys, we also have the lead bad gal Virginia Fenwick and her coterie who make for the scheming villains of the series. Every book, expectantly, leaves you on a cliff hanger, waiting for the next installment in the series with bated breadth. This Was a Man is the final book in this series and comes to face the tough ask of appropriately concluding the events of the previous 6 books on its shoulders.

How does this book fare? The familiar characters were of course there. The nature of their lives already established: High achievers with 30hr long days, surrounded by good people, lives peppered here and there with the unsavory characters, and eventually how good overcomes evil. Always.
The least i expected from this book was this familiar story line to be followed. Even if heavily predictable, the previous books managed to make it a good compelling read and i’d usually finish the book in one go. This book focuses more on a tamer (read lamer) plot line : tying up the loose ends.In fact the plot line can be summarized in one sentence: the good guys do even better for themselves and the bad guys randomly die.

So what happens in This Was a Man? I can make a list!
  1. Seb makes more money for those invested in Farthings Kaufman
  2. Jessica wins a few more scholarships/awards
  3. A couple new characters are introduced for no good reason
  4. Harry writes one more book
  5. Emma climbs some more rungs in the political ladder
  6. Giles continues to be the Average Joe of the family
  7. Virginia finds new ways to swindle money
  8. Samantha and Karin continue to be supportive wives and make new year resolutions
  9. All characters make a forced attempt to stay relevant to the times while living in manor houses and retaining their titles. They worry about taxes, paint giant condoms, run marathons and donate to charities in Africa
  10. The others remain irrelevant 
  11. Some of the good guys succumb to illness, but mostly to old age
Close the book. Read something else.

While i knew a conclusion was the agenda of the book, i was also sure Archer was more capable than this stale piece of  bread. This Was a Man could have been so much more.I doont know if I am asking for too much considering google marks it a 4.3 on 5!

If you are insistant on buying the book and are in india, it is available here on amazon.in.

Spoiler: Harry and Emma die. Everyone else do well for themselves. Now go buy another book. Dont waste money on this one.

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