This was a man is the last book in The Clifton Chronicles, which is a series of seven novels by Jeffrey Archer.
These books loosely follows the life of Harry Clifton and his family and friends. This is a series that spans a lifetime from 1920 to the late 1980s.
In the last book – This was a man, Harry Clifton is at a later stage in his life, well-settled, surrounded by loving friends and family.
But unlike most senior citizens, Harry Clifton is in full form working on a new book. His wife Emma is a member of the House of Lords and is working closely with Margaret Thatcher.
Many other popular characters from earlier books also make their appearance in this one.
When Hakim Bishara suddenly resigns as chairman of Farthings Kaufman Bank, Harry’s son Sebastian Clifton fills the vacated position. But things don’t come up all roses for Sebastian, because Jessica, his daughter, who is dating an unsuitable man in secret, is kicked out of the Slade School of Fine Art.
Lady Virginia (who was one of the villains in earlier books) steals the show when she appears on page. In this book, she is in a bad state. With her creditors closing in and her finances in ruin, she is ready to flee to Argentina to escape her problems. But an unexpected death gives her pause and time to formulate a new devilish plan of action to escape her debt.
Sundry other characters like this populate the book. I enjoyed weaving my way through the multiple plots all the way to the predictable end. The end is predictable because it ends like how a series book like this is supposed to end – with the death of the protagonist. If you have read the Rabbit series by John Updike, the flow of The Clifton Chronicles will be very familiar to you.
That said these are very different types of books. Critics of Jeffrey Archer could rightfully point out that The Clifton Chronicles is an elitist sort of series populated by lords and ladies and ministers. The Queen also makes an appearance on a couple of pages. That criticism aside, I also have to admit that they are very entertaining, and employ that fast-paced style that Jeffrey Archer is well-known for.
Overall, I enjoyed this book (and the series), and I recommend it if you are a fan of Jeffrey Archer or enjoy family sagas in general.
A note about this book: This is one of those books that requires you to have read the earlier books in the series. If this is the first book you read, you are going to be disappointed, as this book is a closure for a lot of events in the earlier books, and while you could read this as a standalone, if you do so, you’re not going to enjoy it very much.
Huge thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me this book for review consideration.