This story is very well written with a well structured plot. The story pulls you in from the very beginning with its interesting and well developed characters. It's a fast moving story about two powerful and very competitive men, and their families. It is also a very sad story of two people hating each other but neither would give in and accept the various opportunities to learn about and understand the other. They relished in their hatred far too long. Both are slick manipulators; one abide by laws, the other not so much. One is Polish and the other a "Bostonian"....they hated the racial/cultural ethnicity of the other.
In the beginning, Abel Rosnovski was my favorite character but he ended up being my least favorite. The circumstances of his birth (really sad) made my heart ache. However, throughout the story he was saved and befriended by many people and yet his heart easily turned cold and calculating without proof or evidence to justify his actions.
I did enjoy this story but there are some glaring holes and contrivances. Abel Rosnovski was all knowing and had spies everywhere but was unable to find out who his benefactor was (what??) .... this contrivance was unbelievable and unlikely. Both men lived for their children, but they were willing to stop talking to them and cut them from their Wills when the children would not succumb to their father's demands (what ??). Another total contrivance is Abel being placed in a container filled with coal for an extended period of time (again unbelievable). It was hard to breathe after the first few minutes. He should have been dead or nearly dead by the end of the journey. The most least likely believable, is Henry, the ultimate scammer and criminal, becoming a congressman (What ??) Maybe that could happen today but not likely back in the 1950's and 60's.
I was looking for a novel that I could sink my teeth into and this was the one I chose. Even though there were many holes and contrivances, the overall story was entertaining. After 19 hours of listening, I didn't want it to end. The ending was okay, but was very disappointing. As I said, the two men were too prideful, they would sooner die than acknowledge each other.
The overall story was a generational family drama, and the author did a great job of weaving the men's lives in and out throughout the story. The narration was good, not great. Would highly recommend to anyone who can "suspend disbelief" beyond normal in order to listen to a great family saga.
If the characters were not so 2 dimensional
Just for this author
The characters are completely not believable as actual human beings. Abel is all knowing and has spies everywhere but is unable to tell who is benefactor was? Both Kane and Abel live for their children but are willing to stop talking to them? Why was the woman on the train in Siberia? Closed into a coal hold for an extended period when it was hard to breathe after the first few minutes? I would think he would die of Black Lung Disease before the end of the journey. Is George a fool or a great worker? Henry became a congressman????
I only got through it because I had 18 hours of driving to do. I tried to enjoy it, but realised a few hours in that the writing (and editing) aren't great.
The subject matter and the big picture theme were interesting, but the characters were single dimensional which left the entire book to be boring and predictable.
The best thing to come out of listening to this book is that I now know to avoid Jeffrey archer in the future.
The narration was good and is what kept me in there till the end.
And yet - an enjoyable listen. I was frustrated in part because some things were SO predictable that it spoiled the story. But there is enough detail about Poland the the cruelties of Germany and Russia. AND insights into various immigrants groups and blue blood Americans. So overall I rate it as OK, but not more so. I can't give it a 2.5 stars, so I settled on 3.
I have listened to other Jeffrey Archer books and this one was a disappointment.
Given the reader a reason to want to listen or read more. Story was boring and overly detailed.
I liked the Narrator
I tried but this guy puts me to sleep... Pace is too slow, narration sound like a kiddie book, character voices not bad, but overall terrible. I give up!!! sad! Probably a great story!
If you enjoyed The Clifton Cronicles, you will enjoy this. A well planned journey through the 20th century. compelling story and well read.
The Kane and Abel meet on the battlefield during WW2.
He has a great ability to change accents and tones to clearly differentiate between characters.
Archer does great character development. This book is no different. But, this was not his best.
I listened to the entire Clifton Chronicles series. They were all great and I couldn't stop listening. This doesn't compare. The story doesn't have as many twists and turns and the characters are just sad and angry. Also, TOO MANY F-BOMBS. In the Clifton Chronicles, there are very few F-words in the entire series. This book, alone, has more. And, like any other time they are used, they are unnecessary. I want to share his books with my kids, or listen while they are in the car. I can't do that, anymore.
He was ok. I like the British books and narrators, better.
Jeffrey Archer also seems to think he has to push homosexuality, although more subtle than so many authors. I thought he was different, since Harry Clifton sang in the church choir and his mother, and future in-laws were portrayed as Believers, to some extent. But, in the later books in this series and in some of his other books, he has to put that in.
Such a rich novel. Gives a sense of what it was like to live in another not that distant error. Totally kept my interest. I listen on the way to work and looked forward to the drive. Two main characters and each is very human. One is not the hero. Highly recommend it.