Author : Jeffrey Archer
My Rating : 4.3 / 5
My first book of Archer and most probably the lengthiest novel I had ever read. The best part of it is that the level of the language used is not too high and would be appealing to any moderate speaker. A story spanning around 60 years including the struggles, challenges, love, success and revenge of two men, one a native to America and the other, a Polish immigrant starting from their childhood spirits to youthful ambitions and to old age regrets and wishes. The historical incidents of The Titanic, World-war 1, 1929 depression, World-war 2 along with the parallel presence of U.S presidents from Hoover to Kennedy keeps the novel interesting and gives a gripping read. I want to mention the highlights of the book:
The Harvard Debate:
One of the splendid part of book, where the issue of the debate is primarily between the quality of life benefits and sustainability benefits of capitalist and socialist ideologies respectively of which one of the two heroes is a part. Four people with four different styles of representing themselves, some conventional and some unconventional, some taking a good initiative and others giving a good conclusion, one of them who had let his emotional intelligence come in rather than rational thinking, one of them who logically attacks the political platform, one of them speaking well to the point and the other with a gentle and persuasive presentation. From the incantations of American radicalism to failure of democratic socialism, the debate had a lot of aspects covered along which makes it one of the striking features of the novel. I kept wondering what it would be like being a part of such an intellectual session !!!!
Struggle of prisoners:
The second hero of the novel, a native to Poland struggles himself against the fear of death and apprehensive future who has been kept in the dungeons for three years by the Germans during the World-war 1, later captured by the Russians and taken to the prisoner camps faces many brutal treatments in his life and finally reaches America to begin his new career full of hope and optimism. The author sharply points to the dealings of the prisoner camps and the pains and humiliation faced by the Polish people from both the sides during the war conditions. Can you believe that combining the fatalities of both the world wars, Poland has the highest number of human loss more than any other country on the planet including Germans? Even I was not aware of it till reading the novel……!!!!!
The ’29 depression:
I first came across this terminology during the 2008 recession period and all that I knew was depression is the next stage of recession and the situation in 1929 was worse than what we were facing in the early 21st century. Never before has such an interest been invoked into me particularly while reading a novel, which made me to browse the social and economic conditions during the Great Depression and the factors which have lead to it and how the situation has been pulled back completely. The author, of course, highlighted the mental disturbances faced by people during the period where many cases have even ended up into miserable suicides, how people changed from something to nothing within a matter of days, heavy growth of unemployment and nevertheless the struggles of both the heroes to fight for themselves and their trusted ones. This phase of chronology acts as a key changing point to the rest of the novel where the two heroes actually meet each other in person.
Who can buy this book?
As the age of both the leading characters ranges from birth-death, this book would be suitable for all the age groups. Some readers wish that the novel should never end. For such voracious readers, the good news is that there is a sequel for this book named as ‘The Prodigal Daughter’. Even I am looking forward to read it at the first opportunity. If you are a reader who imagine yourself as one of the characters in the book, then go ahead because I bet this one will not disappoint you and that’s for sure.