In the 1960s four ambitious new MPs take their seats at Westminster. Raymond Gould and Andrew Fraser in the Labour Party and Simon Kerslake and Charles Seymour among Conservatives. Novelist describes their political struggles over thirty years, in government and in opposition as their lives cross in the battle for power.
Their aim is one - to be the Prime Minister, a goal attainable only to one man. Towards the end Raymond and Simon become their party leaders; Charles drops his ambition and chooses to be the Speaker; Andrew leaves the party, forming another group - Social Democratic Party or SDP.
The 1991 election opened the chance for a hung parliament as the Conservatives and the Labour differs only in one seat; SDP which has the strength of 47 seats, supports Raymond Gould and he be the first among equals.
I hv sided with Raymond in the beginning; his school speech is enough to make him endearing. But towards the end one might be a little split minded between Simon and Raymond; both deserve the post.
Jeffrey Archer with his book
Narration is in multiple point of view and more than the political struggle, it is the family set up of the candidates that is interesting.
Simon is a devoted family man, married to Elizabeth; Andrew's history is the most engaging - his only child Robert, who is born after successive miscarriages, is run down by a car and killed. Then they adopt their daughter Clarissa who is Black; Raymond's is not a happy marriage, he is constantly unfaithful but always manages to sweep the slate clean; Charles' love is his son. He was almost devastated when his ex-wife implies that Harry might not be his child, luckily the DNA test confirms his fatherhood.
--- book is adapted into a Granada Television miniseries that is aired on ITV in 1986.
--- In the US edition the novel is rewritten to eliminate the character Andrew Fraser, as the publisher didn't believe the American audience would understand a multi-party political system. Here Simon Kerslate becomes the PM.
--- Nithya, I am indebted to you for lending me this.