Monday, January 18, 2016

Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer

I don’t remember the year but I still remember how much of an impact my first brush with Jeffrey Archer’s brand of great fiction and storytelling had on me. During those days I was safely ensconced in the novels of Nick Carter, James Hadley Chase, Robert Ludlum and that great western fiction author Louis L’Amour. When I came across Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer, I still remember, I was a bit averse to a new author as I felt I would be sidetracked from the novels of the authors with whom I was “acclimatized.” But there was no turning back after reading the first few pages of Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less as Jeffrey Archer literally sucked me into his world of thrills and chills.

Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer is a continuation of the Clifton Chronicles - the sixth and second last book in the series - a saga that crisscrosses continents, and one in which the lives of Harry, Emma, Giles, Sebastian, Lady Virginia and others are tried and tested through friendship, betrayal, secrecy and maneuverings, and continues with all the trademark twists and turns that have made the compelling and spellbinding story of the Clifton and the Barrington families Jeffrey Archer's most ambitious work to date. This extraordinary tale begins in the backstreets of Bristol in 1919 when Harry Clifton was raised by his mother and uncle who worked for Barrington Shipping. The earlier titles in the series are: Only Time Will Tell (1919-1940), The Sins of the Father (1939-1945), Best Kept Secret (1945-1957), Be Careful What You Wish For (1957-1964) and Mightier than the Sword (1964-1970). The series is imaginatively crafted and magnificently mounted on a sweeping scale the grandeur and intensity of which few would parallel.

In Cometh the Hour, Archer takes the story forward to the 1970s and the stakes are high. Emma Clifton is facing the possibility of defeat in a libel trial and humiliation of having to stand down as chairman of Barrington’s. With her life hanging by a thread Emma opted not to take advantage of a letter which surfaced that could win over the jury of seven men and five women. Harry Clifton is busy with the draft of Russian author Anatoly Babakov’s Uncle Joe, who is imprisoned in a gulag in Siberia. Lady Virginia Fenwick continues to symbolize a character that you love to hate but nonetheless an interesting character, without whom the book would be a much poorer read. Jeffrey Archer surprised me by planting Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher into the story, and of whom Emma was deeply in awe. She plays a crucial part in one pivotal thread of the story. Sebastian Clifton falls in love with Priya, a very well-educated Indian woman who is working in London. Theirs is a sweet love story, but a heartbreaking one. There are intriguing threads and suspenseful plots but all merged beautifully in the end. Jeffrey Archer’s The Clifton Chronicles is a delight to read for its array of characters who epitomize what it takes to face the storms that come along the way, as also those who personify evil. Cometh the Hour is one of the best in the series. My gut feeling tells me that the seventh and final volume slated for a November 2016 release will be a hefty one, and a blockbuster of an ending to a series that has really excited me.


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