This aptly titled novel is the prelude to a series entitled The Clifton Chronicles, covering the lives of several characters over the span of a century. In the hands of the author, Jeffrey Archer, it follows the life of the main character, Harry Clifton, from his birth shortly after World War I to just short of WWII with more curves than a talented big league pitcher.
The story is told in succeeding chapters from the point of view of various persons, each contributing some insight into the questions raised in the last summation. It takes Harry from a fatherless tot to a school truant to a talented choir singer and his education right up to his acceptance at Eton. Meanwhile his life becomes complicated as he grows up by virtue of his background: the mystery of his father's death, his mother's struggles to support him, his questionable parentage.
No comment is necessary regarding Mr. Archer's ability to write a solid story, and to end it in cliffhanger fashion so readers will look forward to the sequel. It remains to be seen how ingenious he can be in the next book in the series.