My definition of favourite writer is someone whose books i can read again and again. PG Wodehouse and John Grisham are in this category. So WAS Jeffery Archer who has written three of my all time favourite books, Kane and Abel, Not a Peeny More, Not a Penny Less and First Among Equals.
Archer’s life itself is like a fascinating thriller movie. As a fund-raiser for Oxfam he had the support of Beatles. As a student he was an Oxford Blue in athletics, President of University athletics Club and represented England as a 100 metre sprinter. He was a fundraiser for UN, an auctioneer, a politician a writer, playwright and an art gallery owner.
Controversies. As a student fundraiser, Archer had houses and cars with personalised number plates, which raised eyebrows. He was accused of discrepancies in fund raising for UN. He was involved in a fraudulent investment scheme which left him nearly bankrupt. He was accused of shop-lifting 3 suits from a departmental store. As a writer, he has been accused of plagiarism, and as an investor accused of insider trading.
Political Career Archer became a Member of Parliament at 29. Due to Financial mis-propriety and controversies his career took a back seat until Margaret Thatcher revived it in the 1980’s and made him Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. In 1991 he organised a rock concert with Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, Sting and Gloria Estefan for the Kurdish refugees, raising millions. For this charitable activity, his friend Prime Minister Major made him a life Peer in 1992. Archer had a last chance to revive his political career in 2000 by becoming Mayor of London, but as he was accused of perjury and jailed he had to withdraw his candidature. The Conservative Party leader declared that this was the end of Archer, the politician.
Writing Career Interestingly, Archer’s First book Not a Penny More, not a Penny Less was written by him as a means to avoid bankruptcy. He followed this with many more and also some extremely popular short stories as well. His books were bestsellers though he never got much critical acclaim.
Archer’s books were unique, extremely realistic and varied as well. One could learn a lot about various things. There is humour, skilful writing and the incredible ability of keeping the storyline intact amidst different characters, all of whom played their own glorious parts. His earlier books were all superb masterpieces in their own right.
I have said above that Jeffery Archer WAS in my list of favourite authors, but sadly not now. Why ? I just finished Book 6 of the 7 part “Clifton Chronicles”. Yes I bought the book, in fact I bought all 6 and will buy the 7th too. However nowadays I feel Archer is writing the same book numerous times with different names. Just like in a formula Hindi movie there are some extremely repetitive, predictive and clichéd occurrences happening, so also an Archer Book can nowadays be exactly predicted even before it is written.
Every New Archer book nowadays has the following. There will be;
- Increase in the number of central characters.
- The characters will cover at least 3 generations. ( Is this to ensure a series and not a single book. Now, that would be sad )
- One character will be from a very poor background. He will then rise to riches due to hard work, street smartness, luck and brilliance
- There will be a romantic angle between the impoverished hero and a rich lady character.
- There will be opposition from one parent of the rich lady character
- The impoverished hero will become richer and more famous than his rich wife
- There will be another rich character with one or two failed marriages, including at least one where he has married for beauty/looks and the opposite character has married him/her for money and money alone
- There will be a large business enterprise, preferably an old and established bank
- There will be an instance or two of insider trading
- There must be at least 2 Villainous characters, one of which has to be an ex spouse or ex girlfriend/boyfriend and the other has an ex military background preferably with some knowledge of banking/stock market
- There will be at least one successful takeover of the bank by someone with the blessings of the villainous character. There will also be a failed takeover attempt
- The villainous Military character will preferably be a war hero, and have received a medal which he did not deserve.
- One of the children will leave the residence due to some disagreement or simply because he/she wants to be successful on own merit. Usually he/she will be and get a hero’s welcome back
- There will be a dramatic vote too close to call. There will be a surprise vote too in this both for and against.
- There will be an accident or a suicide, or sometimes a murder which is camouflaged as suicide. The suicide will preferably be with a sensational letter
- There will be a rich old gentleman who will firmly stand by the Hero’s side
- There will be a loyal and sincere secretary who takes notes seriously and the notes come to of some unforeseen use
- Finally, there will be a crucial race against time to reach an important event or meet a crucial deadline.
Due to above repetitive points I feel that for the last few years I am reading the same book again and again. Do you feel the same?
I sincerely want that the 7th book of Clifton Chronicles is out as promised by December 2016 so that there is closure for me. Thereafter I want the Master to write one, just one more masterful book which is unique. Till then I will continue to read again and again Kane and Abel, PG Wodehouses and John Grishams. The more I read them the more I find new things/points in them, unlike the current Archer novels.