Book Review- A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer

APrisonerofBirthThis is the second book of Archer’s that I have read and both have been enjoyable, while carrying underlying themes of destiny vs. personal accountability and entrepreneurship.

The novel is set in London in the closing years of the 20th Century.

A Prisoner of Birth traces the life of Danny Cartwright who is sentenced to prison for the murder of his best friend in a bar fight, on the night Danny was celebrating his engagement to Beth.

However, the reader knows right up front that things are not what they seem. The fight was started by several men in the bar of a class of persons considered better than Danny. They lie about everything that happened and easily convince the court they should be believed because of their social status, more proper use of English, etc.

While in prison, Danny befriends a man who tutors him in reading, learning how to speak properly and how to make use of the natural talents he has for mathematics.  The two men also have an uncanny physical resemblance for each other.

The rest of the story plays out as Danny manages to change how others perceive him. There are quite a few surprises along the way, and I don’t want to give away the plot, but the story is told in such a way that you never are bored.

If you lived in the UK, I would imagine the story would be even more poignant, as the places would be familiar, although it certainly resonates with anyone, from any country.

Jeffrey Archer has been acclaimed as one of the greatest story-tellers of the present day, and based on the two books of his I’ve read, I’d have to agree. He writes sweeping epics that encompass great spans of years and changes over people’s lifetimes. He uses irony and a grasp of human nature to create stories that satisfy without being trite.

Many books that I read for entertainment fade from my memory after a short while. This one has not.

Photo by the author: J.H. Young

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