Hardcover, 387 pages
Published March 11th 2014
St. Martin's Press / MacMillan
Bestselling author Jeffrey Archer's Be Careful What You Wish For opens with Harry Clifton and his wife Emma rushing to hospital to learn the fate of their son Sebastian, who has been involved in a fatal car accident. But who died, Sebastian or his best friend Bruno?
When Ross Buchanan is forced to resign as chairman of the Barrington Shipping Company, Emma Clifton wants to replace him. But Don Pedro Martinez intends to install his puppet, the egregious Major Alex Fisher, in order to destroy the Barrington family firm just as the company plans to build its new luxury liner, the MV Buckingham.
Back in London, Harry and Emma’s adopted daughter wins a scholarship to the Slade Academy of Art where she falls in love with a fellow student, Clive Bingham, who asks her to marry him. Both families are delighted until Priscilla Bingham, Jessica’s future mother-in-law, has a visit from an old friend, Lady Virginia Fenwick, who drops her particular brand of poison into the wedding chalice.
Then, without warning, Cedric Hardcastle, a bluff Yorkshireman who no one has come across before, takes his place on the board of Barringtons. This causes an upheaval that none of them could have anticipated, and will change the lives of every member of the Clifton and Barrington families. Hardcastle’s first decision is who to support to become the next chairman of the board: Emma Clifton or Major Alex Fisher? And with that decision, the story takes yet another twist that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Be Careful What You Wish For showcases the master storyteller’s talent as never before – when the Clifton and Barrington families march forward into the sixties, in this epic tale of love, revenge, ambition and betrayal.
“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”
The Clifton Chronicles always remind me of a dramatic Hindi soap spanning across several generations. The similarities are uncanny- evil exes striving for revenge and coming with diabolical plans to destroy their targets even after repeatedly being beaten down, one ignoble villain with minions in secret places trying to dismantle the family, unforeseen tragedies, people miraculously thwarting death and the usual circle of love, hate and merriment. Though the books change, the central protagonists change and the story changes; the essence of the plot and the chain of events remains constant.
But this stuff is almost like a guilty pleasure. You know it is going to be nothing more than an endless cycle of revenge, betrayal, narrow skedaddles and reconciliation, but you're still hooked on until the last page.
Be Careful What You Wish For was no exception to this rule. The book is more focussed on other characters than Harry and Emma Clifton. Their love story no longer holds the limelight. Instead it is shifted onto the future of the Barrington company. Don Pedro is back with a vengeance with the sole purpose of ruining the Clifton and the Barrington families. There's a set of new characters featuring as friends and foes of the two families and the book ends on a cliffhanger….again. One would think that after 4 books the story would become lack lustre and soulless. But surprisingly, while the gist of the story is predictable the plot itself is quite incalculable. The moment you think that a character is finally beaten down by the circumstances, he makes a striking comeback and adds the spice of unpredictability to the story. Latinquid pro quo at it's best.
What I liked best about the book was it's emphasis on Emma's achievements. The fact that her character had a life of her own, separate from that of Harry's was like a breath of fresh air. Her ambitiousness, intelligence and competence were very appealing. I loved that she was a cool, level headed and self dependent woman who made excellent choices and admirable decisions and was unfazed at times of crisis.
“You’re so bossy.”
“Why is a woman always described as bossy, when if a man did the same thing he’d be thought of as decisive, commanding and displaying qualities of leadership?”
The ending was frustrating. In a good way, the made-me-crave-for-the-sequel way. After this book it is evident that cliffhangers are also an integral part of the ever-present-elements list of the Clifton Chronicles.
If you enjoy pure unadulterated drama served with a tantalising British garnishing, then this is the book for you.
Rating: 3/5 stars!