With the same fast-paced intensity as the six books leading up to this final entry in The Clifton Chronicles, Jeffrey Archer’s This Was a Man leads the reader back to the family saga of the Barringtons and the Cliftons. Although the last two books included my name ( a result of winning a contest), this final volume has no Ph.D. with good advice. The main characters do return, and Archer successfully reminds the reader of past adventures but it would be easier to binge read all the books together – if you could.
Cunard has bought out the Barrington ocean liners, Harry has been knighted, and Margaret Thatcher is in office, with Emma newly appointed to championing a health care bill. Villains return too, with Lady Virginia artfully and greedily worming her evil through the scenes.
Archer skillfully addresses each family member in the line, providing successful outcomes as their lives continue to develop and interact. Despite the novel’s length and the complications of following a number of characters across dissecting story lines, Archer has the unique ability to maintain clarity, helping the reader follow with anticipation and sometimes with empathy, as he weaves his storytelling drama across generations.
The character Harry Clifton offers an undeniable clue to the ending of Archer’s last volume – it really is the end – and Archer uses his last pages to revisit highlights of his previous six novels. The family saga is over. But maybe it will reappear someday as a modern Forsythe Saga in a BBC special drama series. I would welcome it to my Sunday nights.