"A room without books is like a body without a soul." ~ Cicero.

"A room without books is like a body without a soul." ~ Cicero.
"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." ~ Groucho Marx

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Story of Two Prisoners .. of Birth, Fate and Destiny..

Jeffrey Archer is a master storyteller. I have felt this years back when I read The Prodigal Daughter and First Among Equals. I felt the same about Archer years later, while I read A Prisoner of Birth. The meticulous plotting that he does with his characters is simply amazing! Twists, turns and surprises have always been his forte and A Prisoner of Birth is no exception.

There were times when things seemed to be happening too easily. For instance, the entire process of Danny's education in the prison may not quite appear convincing to every reader. No matter how brilliant and sincere a student Danny was, no matter how disciplined and sincere a teacher Sir Nicholas Moncrieff was and no matter how genuine their friendship was, the smoothness and ease with which Danny got educated and cleared exams, seemed quite tailor-made.
Later, when Danny got out of the prison as Sir Nicholas, once again the author made things look easy. Danny seemed to possess a magic wand with which he handled everything brilliantly. Things happened without hiccups except on the occasion when Danny was arrested for travelling abroad without informing the probation officer.

The story became very interesting after Spencer Craig worked out that "Sir Nicholas" was actually "Danny Cartwright" and it became a thrilling page-turner after Danny was arrested and the trials began.

Of all the trials that Jeffrey Archer has so brilliantly depicted, I enjoyed the penultimate trial the most. With Fraser Munro appearing as a witness, Sir Matthew Redmayne appearing as the junior counsel to his son Alex, and Hugo and Craig getting tricked into admitting truths, it was a treat to the readers.

Fraser Munro beautifully stated that very few things in this world are clearly black or white. Most of the things are in different shades of grey. His description of Danny and Nick as oaks planted in two different forests suffering different fates as we all do being the prisoners of our own births would move the reader to the core.

Despite the lack of credibility in some parts, the story is a masterpiece that cannot be forgotten easily. The language and style is typical of Archer that does not let the reader drift or wander and keeps them glued to the plot.

This is a story that reinforces our faith in friendship, loyalty, goodness of the human nature, and justice. It reinforces our faith in silent and trustworthy accomplices like Big Al.


  1. Jeffrey Archer has become one of my favorite writers since I read “Kane And Abel”. I remember that I took the book with me while vacationing in Puri and I ended up being locked up in the hotel room for two consecutive days to finish the book. My date with the sea had to wait till then. This example is enough to show how one gets involved in his books. The same thing happened when I read “First among equals”. I still remember the book because of its thrilling plot in which the writer held the suspense till the last paragraph. This is the magic Jeffrey creates in each of his books which makes the reading so memorable. Even his short stories are also quite unique in plot. After reading your blog I feel intrigued to read this book.

  2. thanks for reading - I do not know why I have never read Kane and Abel, though we have that book at our place for years ! Would read it some time..

  3. To me he is the greatest fiction writer ever!
    Having read each and every one of his books till date except Prison Diary III, I would say his greatest strength is characterization and his capability of steering the readers mind towards the obvious conclusion and then delivering the twist. This is much more evident in his short stories.
    Not a penny more.... and Paths of Glory, his first & last novels are my favourites.
    As The Crow Flies, though a bit long is another masterpiece!

  4. I agree with Ranabir. He has this knack of delivering a twist in the end which the reader has never dreamt of. And this endears him more to his readers.

  5. yeah.. his stories are like life and fate.. they always have surprises and twists in store..