The first of the Clifton Chronicles and launched in Bangalore earlier this year. As per wiki, Lord Archer plans to span the series from 1920 to 2020. This first installment covers the years from 1919 ( a year before Harry’s birth) to 1940. The protagonist is Harry Clifton, ostensibly, the son of a war hero, but later years would reveal his true father.
Harry is gifted with a fine voice, and despite financial troubles, manages to learn his way to Oxford. The other principal characters are Maisie Clifton, his mother, Giles Barrington, his best friend, Giles’ father Hugo and his sister Emma Barrington, and Old Jack Tar, a war veteran fighting his own demons, but who discovers Harry’s potential and moulds his life.
The author manages to pace the book very well, and has thankfully stayed away from the drastic twists that he was once good with. Instead he has chosen subtle turns which the reader is able to easily guess beforehand, but finds presented very well.
Archer’s storytelling skills are obviously intact, though one portion reminded me of the climax of ‘As the Crow Flies’, and the art appreciation seems to be taken from his own knowledge of the field. The way he switches the narrative by introducing it from the perspectives of the principal characters works out splendidly.
I am becoming a fan of the subtle Archer style of humour too, and therefore I don’t miss the earlier twisty plot style much.