Publishers WeeklyAs recounted in this second installment of his prison diary, Archer's 67 days at Wayland, a medium-security facility in Norfolk, sounds much more pleasant than the time he spent at a maximum-security facility in London, where his status as a bestselling novelist and member of the House of Lords didn't help much. At Wayland, after making the right connections, he could use his considerable fortune to buy decent food, extra phone cards, have his laundry done-even arrange to bid on a $900,000 painting by the Colombian artist Botero, thanks to an inmate being deported back to that country. But as he points out after a fight between prisoners results in a man's head being split open by a snooker ball, "I go into great detail to describe this incident simply because those casually reading this diary might be left with an impression that life at Wayland is almost bearable. It isn't." Archer comes across as a remarkable piece of work-a character only a novelist as subtle as Anthony Powell could invent. At one moment he's remembering discussions with fellow Conservative politicians about the future of the party; the next he's complaining about the prison menu. What obviously kept him going-and will keep readers turning the pages-is his ability to write by hand up to 3,000 words a day of his journals and his 2002 novel, Sons of Fortune, while maintaining the wry humor that can cause him to comment, after seeing a recent TV adaptation of Great Expectations, "If I hadn't been in prison, I would have walked out after fifteen minutes." Agent, Jonathan Lloyd at Curtis Brown. (July 3) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library JournalNovelist, lord, and now criminal, Archer continues his tale of life in prison after being convicted of perjury. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
When last we heard of the adventures of Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare (A Prison Diary, 2003), our noble prisoner had completed three weeks of his four-year sentence for perjury, forgery, and obstruction of justice. He's back. Of course. Prisoner FF8282, author of many fanciful adventures (Sons of Fortune, 2003, etc.), has been transferred from maximum security HMP Belmarsh. Now he records nine weeks at medium security HMP Wayland before heading for an open prison in 2001. Still not pleased with standard accommodations, he arranges with fellow inmates for extra bedding, laundry service, and bottled water. He dines on toad-in-the-hole, beans on toast, Spam, Weetabix, and marmalade. His Lordship is busy in the pokey, attempting to fashion a flower pot, refereeing cricket matches, getting his cell redecorated, watching Jane Austen on the telly, and checking out all of Shakespeare's plays. ("Tonight, King Lear. If only the Bard had experienced a few months in prison . . .") A man of some sensibility, he engages with another convict, soon to return to his native Colombia, in a scheme to get a fine emerald and a fine painting by the celebrated Colombian Botero. (The plan carries the only hint of suspense, so we won't reveal if it works.) There are sketches of friendly inmates, like "Dale (wounding with intent), Darren (marijuana only), Jimmy (Ecstasy courier), Steve (conspiracy to murder), and Jules (drug dealing)" and visits from friends and family. Other than his conventional take on the events of September 11th, this is not terribly different from his previous outing (if that's the right word). Archer is, understandably, still unhappy with the prison system; he has ideas for reform. Histext is still larded with cricketer jargon indecipherable this side of the Atlantic. A toff in HM's bridewell, it's toad-in-the-hole once more.
Jeffrey Archer was educated at Oxford University. He has served five years in Britain's House of Commons, fourteen years in the House of Lords and two in Her majesty's prisons, which spawned three volumes of highly acclaimed Prison Diaries. All of his novels and short story collections--including Kane and Abel, Sons of Fortune, and False Impression--have been international bestsellers. Archer is married with two children and lives in London and Cambridge.