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4.6 out of 5 stars834
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 7 April 2010
Well what can I say havent read any Jeffery Archer for a while, the best book I have ever read is Kane & Abel, what a masterpiece., well I can say tqat A Prioner of Birth was just incredible, I bought it when I went on holiday recently and lent it to a guy we met, well he could not put it down, I was then spending a day or two twitching as he told me every day, oh my god it is just incredible, I have never read a book like it! I was not disappointed where does he get his ideas from, couldnt put it down till I finished the final page.....Wonderful Jeffery you are a genius.....Louise Brooks
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on 3 January 2014
Recently, this book was my reading material of choice on my daily commute on the Tube. You occasionally get strange looks when you read Jeffrey Archer novels in public - the odd raised eyebrow from the lady sitting opposite, an unspoken way of saying: "Really? Him?" - and I can think of at least three reasons why people might frown on people who read Jeffrey Archer novels, although two of those concern who he is rather than the sort of books he writes.

As for the novel itself, well I can report that it was pretty good - although if you want my honest opinion about Jeffrey Archer, I'll tell you that he's better at the short story as opposed to the full-length novel.

Published in 2008, A Prisoner of Birth is a modern retelling of Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo, and Archer has included several references to Dumas in acknowledgement of his source material. Archer, by the way, is not alone in retelling this classic, if somewhat long-winded adventure story; back in 2000, Stephen Fry did the same with his novel, The Stars' Tennis Balls, and back in the nineteenth century Dumas himself openly admitted that he got the idea from a (possibly apocryphal) story he'd heard. It will therefore come as no surprise to learn that the plot is about a man who is framed and imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, is befriended by a sympathetic and rich fellow-inmate, manages to escape when said fellow-inmate conveniently dies, obtains his late friend's money and uses it to wreak his revenge on the people who'd stitched him up in the first place.

As you'd expect, Archer is particularly good at the prison scenes, which take place at Belmarsh (where he himself was incarcerated at the start of his sentence; Belmarsh also features in some of his short stories written after his imprisonment).

Class is a key factor of this novel. The protagonist and his fiancée are working-class East Londoners, while the men who stitch him up are upper-class types who live in Chelsea. However, the upper classes don't just provide the villains, as the helpful prisoner (to whom our hero bears an uncanny resemblance, of course) is upper-class too, and it is he who teaches our hero to read, and shows him how to act like a toff - the latter being an essential plot point as he has to pass himself off as one in order to exact his revenge.

There are a few things that don't ring true. For example, what sort of barrister lets his client go on trial for murder wearing a football shirt, and who would take an A-level exam after obtaining an Open University degree? These, though, are minor quibbles. On the whole, this is a pacy, well-written thriller in which, as with all the best thrillers, the last twist is saved for the final few pages.

I find the benchmark of a good thriller to be one that I struggle to put down, and once I have put it down I start to wonder when will be the next time I can pick it up again; in extreme (or rather, extremely good book) cases I've still been reading at 3am. I didn't go that far with A Prisoner of Birth, but it was still very good.
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on 11 April 2009
It has been years since I last read Jeffrey Archer, although at a time I simply used to "swallow" his books. I suppose the prison diaries did not tempt me, as I like being entertained when I read.

Lucky then, the day I happened to read a review of "A Prisoner of Birth". Received it two days ago, finished it this morning and have already ordered the rest of any unread Jeffrey Archer books.

Whatever is being said about Sir Archer, he is a highly intelligent and blessedly gifted writer. From page one he kept me enthralled, just as I so well remember from my previous spell with his books. The story, the characters, the numerous details - enlightening but never boring.

The idea of this book, mostly based on the Dumas classic "The Count of Monte Cristo", invites several clever twists and turns. The main plot may be dependent on convenient co-incidences, as in all good fiction. But I dare say that real life itself is quite often a lot more accidental than many a fictional tale. Archer draws heavily on his prison experience, legal experience, knowledge about politics and the finance world, as well as showing great insight into the human mind and people from all levels of society. One expects everything to be sorted out in the end, but how?? Not a dull moment on Danny Cartwrigth's revengeful road in his masterful disguise.

The book is a page-turner. Very much so. Impossible to put down. Talk about Archer as a person. His prison sentence. His arrogance. What a bad writer many claims him to be, not literature this. Discuss it all to bits.

I don't care. His books continue to impress me, enlighten me, entertain me. I will not dwell on Sir Archer as a person, his criminal record, but Archer the author. Who is simply brilliant!!
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VINE VOICEon 28 October 2009
I am not a fan of Jeffrey Archer as a person and for this reason it's been quite a few years since I've read any of his books, however this was recommended to me by both my mother and my husband so I thought it might be worth giving it a try. My mother and husband do not usually have similar tastes in books, she prefers an easy read that you can escape into (usually of the chick lit variety) whereas he prefers educational or autobiographical books, this falls into neither of these categories but I think it is testament to the exceptional story-teller that Jeffrey Archer is that they both thoroughly enjoyed it (who'd have believed a politician being able to fabricate stories so well).

This book drew me in right from the start, it's a long time since a book has had me eagerly turning pages and sitting up late in order to read further. It's a work of fiction so there are elements of it that are not 100% true to life believable but that's the power of artistic licence, nothing was beyond the realms of possibility. You have a good idea from the start of where the book is going to end but the twists and turns along the way and the additional details added by Archer are what keep you reading.

I can highly recommend this book and on the strength of this have just been out and bought his new paperback - unfortunately not had chance to read it yet... my mothers stolen it!
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on 6 May 2009
Archer sets his readers up perfectly in the opening chapters to make this a captivating read.

Danny Cartrwight is wrongfully jailed for murder for 22 years and the reader from that moment can't help but hope that justice prevails in the end.

But, as in many Archer novels, he uses extraordinary licence to take us to the end. I don't give too much away in saying that the biggest of these has Danny being identified wrongly as a murder victim in jail and the real Danny being able to get out by assuming the identity of his cell-mate, Nick, who was due to be released on parole. Oh, and that Danny goes from being near illiterate to a shrewd businessman able to make use of Nick's millions.

The characterisations are good in that it is easy to form strong views of all the main players. Archer's writing can best be described as equivalent to his usual standard and neither more nor less.

The book is very formulaic and built on a host of improbable elements - that said, if you get sucked in early, as most will be, you will root for Danny through the 600 very fast-moving pages to follow.

In summary, an intriguing story line which goes way, way over the top but does pull the reader in from the outset. The issue for most will be whether they can live with some of the working assumptions Archer has used. 9/10
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on 30 July 2011
Danny Cartwright goes to a pub with his girlfriend and his closest friend. Here he goes down on his knees and asks his girlfriend to marry him. She agrees. A perfect night. Or not. A group of four young men are in the pub. Their leader likes the girl. He says some words he shouldn't say. An argument erupts. It is an unfair challenge. Four against two. But they all go out to the alley to fight. Danny's friend was stabbed by the leader, who implicates Danny. His three friends support his version of what had happened. Danny's girlfriend was not right there when the stabbing occurred. It is the word of four young and successful men against the word of Danny, a mechanic from the London lower class. Danny goes to jail.

This book does not let you go. The difference is that it is masterfully written from the first page, until the last. Every small detail is important. I was hooked into the story and fate of Danny Cartwright from the first chapter. The pace of A Prisoner of Birth is unstoppable, with gripping twist and turns. It is about love, friendship, betrayal, revenge, the highs and lows of life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an entertaining read which provides insights into English class society and its prison life, information about stamp collection (one hobby of mine).
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on 13 November 2011
A Prisoner of Birth is yet abother outstanding novel by Jeffrey Archer. I took it on holiday recently, and I found I just could not put it down ! I thoroughly recommend this book.
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on 27 December 2009
The paperback edition's backcover hosts an exerpt from the Sunday Time's review of this book according to which Mr. Archer is "well placed to be the British John Grisham". This might be partly true in the sense that the legal technicalities of the trials Danny - the main character - is subjected to are finely explained and presented in a way which is never boring. However, this statement is also inaccurate as whereas Mr. Grisham's books often denounce the moral and systemic corruption of the US Legal system, in this book judges, lawyers and even prison institutions are mostly depicted as highly moral pillars of society...obviously with the exception of Mr. Spenser Craig, QC whom the reader will soon discover to be a veritable black sheep of his profession. The character of Mr. Frasier Munro, a Scottish lawyer who assists Danny in connection with his succession troubles brings the reader back to a concept of the legal profession which unfortunately I believe has long disappeared when lawyers still had a truly intense personal relationship with their clients and sincerely cared for them. The book has some slow passages, not many though. The last 50 pages are truly engaging, to be swallawed in half an hour intense page turning. Overall a very good read.
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on 28 April 2008
What a storyteller this man is, starts the story and whisks you along for the ride of your life without letting on what is going to happen, keeping the plot togather right to the very end. A must read especially for all his fans.
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on 19 April 2014
This is one of those rare books that you can't put down from start to finish. I couldn't wait for the next installment and read the book in a couple of days despite it being quite a thick book. The story although not entirely believeable especially the part where Danny takes over Nick's identity is a little far fetched. However, it didn't matter as the story was so fab with twists and turns in the plot. I have recommended it for someone else to read
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