26 November 2007

Sons of Fortune - Jeffrey Archer


Another fun and entertaining book I listened to while on a weekend trip. As this was a shorter trip, I had to pick an abridged copy of the book, which I think may unfairly taint my comments on the book. I have read 4 or 5 of his other books, all of which are delightfully amusing to read. I can't quite say the same for Sons of Fortune, unfortunately (um, note to self, too many fortunes in that sentence).

Before going in to the book itself, a word or two on one of the most interesting authors around - Jeffrey Archer. Not only is he a member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, he was also the youngest member EVER of the house of commons. He is sort of like the Bill Clinton of moder British politics. Super charming, intelligent, Oxford grad, and mired in scandal after scandal. In 2000 he dropped out of the London mayoral race for claims of perjury, which he subsequently lost and was imprisoned for. He wrote Sons of Fortune while in prison, and it was the first novel he released upon his release.

If you haven't read an Archer novel, here is the basic premise to many of them: two boys are born. They grow up and become successful. The men are on a collision course with one another, either in a hostile business take over, or as political enemies. It surprises me he hasn't had his characters face off in sports yet. Often the novel ends in a coin toss, which is the case with Sons of Fortune. The kicker is that his books are fun. They are not meant to be taken seriously, but rather as stories. Archer, at his best, is a phenomenal story-teller. On this account, Sons of Fortune does not disappoint.

The specific storyline is as follows: twin brothers are separated at birth. Unknowingly, their lives intertwine for the next 45 years, as each achieves academic, business, political and personal success. Their paths finally collide when they each run for governor of Connecticut. However, one brother is on trial for the murder of his Republican opponent. So he ends up asking the democratic candidate to defend him - without realizing it's his twin brother (fraternal, not identical, so you can see how the plot is believable). Needless to say, he wins, and they go on to face one another for the governorship. If that isn't zany enough, they actually end up tied, and the flip of a coin decides their "fortunes" so to speak.

Oh sorry, I ruined the plot for you - well, I suggest you read Kane and Abel if you want to read an Archer novel! Unfortunately, I think he got a little rusty while in prison (and not just the rusty trombone, which no doubt he did get).