Jeffrey Archer’s third Clifton Chronicle

14 03 2013

The latest novel in Jeffrey Archer’s the Clifton Chronicles is published today. Best Kept Secret is the third work in the five-book family saga, spanning a century from 1920 to 2020. The story follows the life of Harry Clifton, born to a family of dockers in the back streets of Bristol, who at the age of seven discovers he has a remarkable talent that changes his life.

Best Kept Secret by Jeffrey Archer

In breathless tones, publishers Pan Macmillan describe the new novel from 72-year-old Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare thus:

1945. The vote in the House of Lords as to who should inherit the Barrington family fortune has ended in a tie. The Lord Chancellor’s deciding vote will cast a long shadow on the lives of Harry Clifton and Giles Barrington.

Harry returns to America to promote his latest novel, while his beloved Emma goes in search of the little girl who was found abandoned in her father’s office on the night he was killed.

When the General Election is called, Giles Barrington has to defend his seat in the House of Commons and is horrified to discover who the Conservatives select to stand against him.

But it is Sebastian Clifton, Harry and Emma’s son, who ultimately influences his uncle’s fate.

In 1957, Sebastian wins a scholarship to Cambridge, and a new generation of the Clifton family march onto the page. After Sebastian is expelled from school, he unwittingly becomes caught up in an international art fraud involving a Rodin statue that is worth far more than the sum it raises at auction. Does he become a millionaire? Does he go to Cambridge? Is his life in danger?

Best Kept Secret will answer all these questions, but once again, pose so many more.

Bristol books

29 11 2011

Cyber Monday, Choose Tuesday, Black Forest Gateau Friday. I may have made at least two of those up, but this is the week that seems to be geared towards bashing the credit card over the internet. If it’s books that you’re after, and specifically books about Bristol, here are some suggestions:

Bristol Riots
The Stokes Croft riots that broke out in the Spring of 2011 were largely unreported by the mainstream media until after the event, yet the use of social networks to spread news of the disturbances meant that amateur and professional photographers were quickly alerted to the disturbances. This book is a collection of that photography, collected and edited by University of the West of England academics Louis Rice, Jason Davies and Mark Cains.

The Life of Lee
He may be known as a cheeky Essex chappy, but comedian and now Hollywood star Lee Evans was brought up on the mean streets of Larence Weston, where he writes that “as kids, we were like baboons at a safari park” and the fact that “it was the sort of place where arson was an occupational hazard”.

“Lawrence Weston was, to say the least, rough and ready. We were the dispossessed, continually ducking and diving in a generally hopeless attempt to make ends meet. We were trying to get by – by any means necessary.”

This is the tale of how Evans went from a Bristol council estate to selling out five nights at the O2 Arena. It is an astonishing story, and one that Evans tells with his typical comedic flare but also poignancy.

See No Evil
See No Evil is a photographic essay by Stephen Morris of the remarkable street art event that took place in Bristol in August 2011. More than 70 writers from around the world transformed the drab architectural brutality of Nelson Street into an aerosol image playground. The whole event is captured in this 64-page A5 book which, like Bristol Riots, is published by Tangent Books.

Only Time Will Tell

The first Clifton Chronicles novel by Jeffrey Archer is set in Bristol from 1919 to the outbreak of the Second World War and features plenty of recognisable Bristol locations including the docks, Central Library and Bristol Grammar School. Harry Clifton is our protagonist, a talented music scholar who lost his father in the First World War and whose mother works hard to give him a good life. Along the way he meets characters from all walks of life, including a homeless man who lives in an abandoned train carriage and an aristocratic family who may know more about what really happened to his father.

Although not the usual book I read, I have just finished this novel and found it an engaging page-turner, not solely because of the setting.