The Clifton Chronicles: By Jeffrey Archer

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Jeffrey Archer: A bit of a villain?

The first book I read by Jeffrey Archer made me think that the man must be a bit of a villain. That book was Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less and like many others, I decided that if the author had the sort of mind that could create a book like that, he could also do well as an master criminal.

Over the years, history has shown that yes, Mr Archer is certainly a bit of a lad. He has been involved in politics and sex scandals. He has been in jail and yet he’s a peer of the realm. And what about his books? They are bloody marvellous.

This applies particularly to his latest offering which is not a book, not even a trilogy, but a series of novels outlining the life of Harry Clifton, his friends, family and those he meets during the course of his fascinating (and incredibly eventful) life.

The Clifton Chronicles in order

Only Time Will Tell is the first of the series. This was first released in 2011 and the first person we meet is Harry’s mother, Maisie. She begins by telling us that ‘this story would never been written if I hadn’t become pregnant’.

She then explains that she became pregnant by the wrong man. Or did she? This is just one of the themes running through this first book in the series and beyond.

Young Harry, the result of that pregnancy, was told that his father had been killed in the war but even as a child he knew that couldn’t be the case – Harry had been born in 1920 – two years after the end of the war.

Harry was from an impoverished family living in Bristol in the UK but he and his mother rise above their humble beginnings. But by the end of this book it’s 1941 – Harry has faked his own death and found himself in the United States where he is arrested for murder….

The Sins of the Father, as the title suggests, revisits the problem of who exactly Harry’s father is … or was. And it is more of a problem that it first seems.

We now know that Harry is in love with Emma Barrington, the sister of his best friend, Giles, and a member of the powerful and wealthy shipbuilding family. They were to have been married and the wedding ceremony only got as far as ‘if any person here present knows of any just impediment why these two people should not be joined in holy matrimony let him speak now or forever hold his peace…

The problem is that somebody does. Harry is in jail in America – an innocent man – but Emma is resourceful. She doesn’t believe that Harry has died and she is determined to find him even though he is at the other side of the world.

More wonderful typically-Archer characters appear and the book ends with a court case that will affect them all…

Best Kept Secret, number three in the series, brings more characters into play as they interact with the Clifton and Barrington families – sometimes for the better but not always.

Giles Barrington, Harry’s best friend and now brother-in-law, has decided that his career is in politics (and don’t worry if you find politics as dull as dishwater – I do as a rule, but not in the hands of Mr Archer.)

Emma and Giles’ father is now dead – murdered most gruesomely in fact. Shortly after this mysterious murder, a woman threw herself in front of a train and even more bizarrely, when Emma and Giles’ father’s body was found, there was a young baby – a girl – found at the scene. Who was the little girl and why was she at the murder scene?

Emma is determined to find out….

Be Careful What You Wish For opens as Emma and Harry are informed that their son, Sebastian, has been killed in a car crash. Arriving to identify the body, they discover that it is not in fact Sebastian, although he has been seriously injured.

But it wasn’t an accident —- someone was trying to kill Sebastian because of an art and counterfeiting scam that he had unwittingly become involved in. The Barringtons and the Cliftons now had some very powerful enemies.

We are now in the nineteen sixties and Emma is the chairman of her family’s company board. The shipping line is launching their first luxury liner, the Buckingham. Board members, family, friends and passengers are looking forward to being on board for the maiden voyage to the States.

But the family’s arch enemy is determined to extract revenge and has the IRA – and their bombing experts -involved to destroy the ship and the family in one fell swoop….

Cometh The Hour continues the saga of the Barrington and Clifton families. And it’s no less exciting than the previous volumes. Harry is now a successful writer and is campaigning for the freedom of an imprisoned Russian author. Emma is now closely involved with another campaign – that of Margaret Thatcher’s bid to become the leader of the Conservative Party. (Despite the fact that her brother Giles in a Labour man).

Sebastian has become a success in the city (gaining enemies along the way) but has lost his true love. Intrigue abounds.

Lady Virginia, Giles’ ex-wife, is plotting against him yet Giles has fallen in love with an interpreter he met at a conference in East Berlin. Can he help her escape to Britain? Is she what she claims to be?

This book has Harry travelling to Russia, Giles to East Berlin, Sebastian to India and the evil Lady Virginia to the US where she tries to pull off a brilliant scam….

This Was a Man opens as a shot has just been fired in a desolate wood. Who has been shot? I can’t tell you not because I don’t want to be responsible for spoilers but because this book isn’t released until November this year.

However, you can click on the image you see here and pre-order. I have because I simply can’t wait to see what happens to the Clifton and Barrington families. I feel as though I know these people.

You’ll feel the same way, I’m sure. All the books have thousands of reviews on Amazon so don’t just take my word for it. If you’ve read Jeffrey Archer books before then I can guarantee that you’re going to love this series. And if you haven’t, there’s no better time to get acquainted.

Below, see more of my favourite books by the same author, starting with his very first (published in 1976). Enjoy!



Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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