Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Guest Blog - A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer

While browsing through the new novels at Clics, my husband asked me if I had ever read anything by Jeffrey Archer. I had not. Archer is not only a novelist but has spent time in both the British government and the British penal system. I checked out the two novels on the shelf written by him and brought A Prisoner of Birth home to read. When I started reading, it was difficult to put it down to attend to other responsibilities in my life. Fortunately, I am on vacation so there are not too many of them.

In the novel, the protagonist Danny Cartwright thinks about Edmond Dant├Ęs in The Count of Monte Cristo, but once sentenced to 22 years of imprisonment for killing his best friend Bernie, he sees no way that he will ever be able to escape the high security prison where he is incarcerated. Fate has other plans for him, however.

The novel has quite a few court scenes. I thought that I would be bored and have to slog my way through those pages. I was surprised to find that I found Danny’s moments in court interesting. Of course, the story is totally implausible but it did not make it any less enjoyable.

England remains very much a society with clear class lines. Here in the US the lines are a little more blurred. But the reality is that most of us are in fact, prisoners of birth. Where we are born and who our parents are still make a huge difference to most of us on the planet. Often I forget how fortunate I am to have been born in North America to a good family.

Prisoner is not a conventional who-done-it, but I enjoyed it and am looking forward to exploring more Archer in the future.

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