When Charlie Trumper inherits the barrow his grandfather used to peddle fruit and vegetables in turn-of-the-century Whitechapel, England, he inherits his enterprising spirit as well. Charlie's deeply held ambition to raise himself out of the poverty of London's East End is destined to be realized, but there are many obstacles to overcome, including a tour of duty at the front in World War I, where he encounters the man who will become his lifelong enemy.
As the crow flies, it is only a few short miles from Whitechapel to Chelsea Terrace, the upscale London neighborhood where Trumper's department store - and the realization of all Charlie's dreams - will have its beginnings. But for Charlie, following the threads of love, ambition, and revenge, it will be an epic journey that carries him across three continents and through the triumphs and disasters of the 20th century.
©1991 Jeffrey Archer (P)2015 Macmillan Audio
I'll admit, I'd listen to John Lee read Dixie Joke Cups for 30+ hours and call it brilliant, but his narration of As the Crow Flies, boosts, but just barely, an already awesome story. I say 'just barely' not because of any failing on Lee's part, but because the story is strong enough to sit right up there as worthy of being read by Lee.
Like many other readers, I relate this story to Ken Follett's Century trilogy (also read by Lee). There are some broad similarities (period and narrator), but they are two, separately wonderful titles.
Follett's trilogy is historical fiction, and therefore has more historical insight. I love historical fiction, and I love that trilogy.
As the Crow Flies is more of a period piece. The few historical people and points mentioned aren't inaccurate, but it's not about that. It's a drama set in early 20th century Britain. I would compare it more closely to Downton Abby or Poldark, with maybe a little less romance.
One thing that stands out is the writing style. The story unfolds for a while from a narrator's point of view, then jumps back a little and picks up as if reading one of the main character's memoirs. I've probably made this sound more confusing than it really is; it's not confusing and actually flows quite well. The 'memoir-like' portions of the story serve to fill in detail about previously-covered events, as well as explain the motivations and feelings of the main players.
This is my first Jeffrey Archer book. If his others are nearly this good I've got a lot of good stuff to look forward to. I highly recommend this book to any fan of John Lee, or any of the other titles I've mentioned above. It is a solid listen all around.
First of all John Lee has always been one of my favorite readers and I believe that only he could have done justice to the many characters that Archer created in this book. Lee is a master of the various English and Scottish accents, and does a good job with American accents too, which added greatly to the enjoyment of the book.
Although the book covers over 60 years and 4 generations, it really is about Charlie, who is the glue in the story and everything centers around him. You soon get to like him and begin to wish the best for him in the various challenges he faces in his life. However, the story is not filled with major intrigue and is therefore relaxing but still interesting enough to hold your attention. The ending is especially poignant.
The book is almost 21 hours long but seemed to fly by, definitely worth the time.
This book is in my top two! J
effrey Archer's Clinton Chronicles are up there as well. I became a fan when I read "Kane and Able" at a young age. I could never get them and the story far from my mind. I moved from England when I was 8 years old. To listen to these stories in the voice/dialogue of John Lee is to take a walk back into another time. When I chose this book for my book club, I asked them to write down the words/slang that they were not quite sure of. We had many laughs as I explained them all.
Jeffrey Archer has an extraordinary gift and sincerely reminds me of the way that my father spoke and wrote. It fills my heart and soul. Thank You, Thank You!
Following Sir Charlie..
The accents and nuances in the dialogue.
I love Jeffrey Archer's writing style! His characters are fantastic, whether you love 'em or just love to hate 'em. I didn't like this one quite as well as The Clifton Chronicles, but I still really enjoyed it. 5 stars to the narrator, John Lee, for a stellar job with the reading.
I love John Lee as a story teller his accents and life he brings to the characters is truly amazing. This is not my first Jeffery Archer story so I know to expect a believable and wonderful journey to another place. When Charlie is first selling his wares on the market even though his lifetime and my own are seperated by 40
I'm an avid listener always searching for another good book and willing to share my thoughts with a pithy review.
Yes indeed. The characters are well developed and inextricably entwined with the ever-present mystery of how will they manage to extricate themselves from the adversaries web...if they can. The heroes and villains match wits and plots and through it all, Archer reveals the true character of each. Some of life's lessons can be learned from the outcomes. Character tests abound and only the righteous score passing grades.
What one learns may well be worth much more than what one earns.
Good stories can contain the odd setback coupled with a good share of victories. This story has a comfortable balance. I think you will find it so. Cheers, Ken
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