Thursday, May 27, 2010

And Thereby Hangs A Tale by Jeffrey Archer - Indiaplaza Review

While we are all unabashed fans of his novels like Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less, Kane and Abel, we do believe that when it comes to writing short stories, Jeffrey Archer is the modern master. For a while now we have been eagerly looking forward to And Thereby Hangs a Tale - Jeffrey Archer’s seventh collection of short stories (his previous short story collections being A Quiver Full of Arrows, A Twist in the Tale, Twelve Red Herrings, Collected Short Stories, To Cut a Long Story Short, Cat O Nine Tails). The wait has been reasonably rewarded.

Jeffrey Archer introduces an eclectic cast of characters like a bankers industrialists, insurance claim investigators, golf players, retired senior citizens across a set of 15 entertaining stories (ten of them are apparently based on true incidents and the other five are Archer’s creations). The tales are set in different times, both ancient and modern in places like Germany, Italy, England, Ireland and as a reflection of his frequent trips to India in the recent past, the last story in the collection – a lovely romantic tale - is set in India. There’s more of India too – in a tale set in Italy, a traveller starts reading an R K Narayan book – “I was told to ignore all the new writers and stay with Narayan” – a view we whole-heartedly subscribe too, making this the ten-on-ten moment of the book.

Where the collection probably falls below expectations is in the proverbial twists in the tales. In some cases, the twist becomes obvious early enough and in some, the lack of a final twist is the real surprise, something we are not used to from Archer. Having said this, the book makes for a light and easy reading and some of the short stories are quite delightful.

The 15 stories in this collection are:

  1. Stuck on You
  2. The Queen’s Birthday Telegram
  3. High Heels
  4. Blind Date
  5. Where There’s a Will
  6. Double Cross
  7. I Will Survive
  8. A Good Eye
  9. Members Only
  10. The Undiplomatic Diplomat
  11. The Luck of the Irish
  12. Politically Correct
  13. Better the Devil You Know
  14. No Room at the Inn
  15. Caste-Off

Our top three out of this list, in no particular order – Stuck on You, Blind Date, No Room at the Inn.

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