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"Archer is a master entertainer." —Time
"Archer plots with skill, and keeps you turning the pages." —The Boston Globe
"Cunning plots, silken style . . . Archer plays a cat-and-mouse game with the reader." —The New York Times
Both of them were three years old at the time, and when Michael burst into tears, Susan's mother rushed over to find out what the problem was. All Susan was willing to say on the subject, and she repeated it several times, was, "Well, he asked for it, didn't he?" Susan ended up with a spanking. Not the ideal start for any romance.
The next recorded meeting, according to the best man, was when they both arrived at their elementary school. Susan declared with a knowing air that Michael was a cry-baby, and what's more, a sneak. Michael told the other boys that he would share his graham crackers with anyone who was willing to pull Susan Illingworth's pigtails. Few boys tried a second time.
At the end of their first year, Susan and Michael were jointly awarded the class prize. Their teacher considered it the best course of action if she hoped to prevent another ice-cream incident. Susan told her friends that Michael's mother did his homework for him, to which Michael responded that at least it was in his own handwriting.
The rivalry continued unabated through junior and senior high until they departed for different universities, Michael to Connecticut State and Susan to Georgetown. For the next four years, they both worked hard at avoiding each other. In fact the next occasion their paths crossed was, ironically, at Susan's home, when her parents threw a surprise graduation party for their daughter. The biggest surprise was not that Michael accepted the invitation, but that he turned up.
Susan didn't recognize her old rival immediately, partly because he had grown four inches and was, for the first time, taller than her. It wasn't until she offered him a glass of wine and Michael remarked, "At least this time you didn't pour it all over me," that she realized who the tall handsome man was.
"God, I behaved dreadfully, didn't I," said Susan, wanting him to deny it.
"Yes, you did," he said, "but then I expect I deserved it."
"You did," she said, biting her tongue.
They chatted like old friends, and Susan was surprised at how disappointed she felt when a classmate from Georgetown joined them and started flirting with Michael. They didn't speak to each other again that evening.
Michael phoned the following day and invited her to see Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in Adam's Rib. Susan had already seen the movie, but still heard herself accepting, and couldn't believe how long she spent trying on different dresses before he arrived for that first date.
Susan enjoyed the film, even though it was her second time, and wondered if Michael would put an arm around her shoulder when Spencer Tracey kissed Katharine Hepburn. He didn't. But when they left the movie house, he took her hand as they crossed the road, and didn't let it go until they reached the coffee shop. That was when they had their first row, well, disagreement. Michael admitted that he was going to vote for Thomas Dewey in November, while Susan made it clear that she wanted the incumbent Democrat, Harry Truman, to remain in the White House. The waiter placed the ice cream in front of Susan. She stared down at it.
"Don't even think about it," Michael said.
Susan wasn't surprised when he called the following day, although she had been sitting by the phone for over an hour pretending to be reading.
Michael admitted to his mother over breakfast that morning it had been love at first sight.
"But you've known Susan for years," remarked his mother.
"No, I haven't, Mom," he replied, "I met her for the first time yesterday."
Both sets of parents were delighted, but not surprised, when they became engaged a year later, after all, they'd hardly spent a day apart since Susan's graduation party. Both had landed jobs within days of leaving college, Michael as a trainee with the Hartford Life Insurance Co. and Susan as a history teacher at Jefferson High, so they decided to get married during the summer vacation.
What they hadn't planned was that Susan would become pregnant while they were on their honeymoon. Michael couldn't hide his delight at the thought of being a father, and when Dr. Greenwood told them in the sixth month that it was going to be twins he was doubly delighted.
"Well, at least that will solve one problem," was his first reaction.
"Namely?" asked Susan.
"One can be a Republican, and the other a Democrat."
"Not if I have anything to do with it," said Susan, rubbing her stomach.
Susan continued teaching until her eighth month, which happily coincided with the Easter vacation. She arrived at the hospital on the twenty-eighth day of the ninth month carrying a small suitcase. Michael left work early and joined her a few minutes later, with the news that he had been promoted to account executive.
"What does that mean?" asked Susan.
"It's a fancy title for an insurance salesman," Michael told her. "But it does include a small pay raise, which can only help now we're going to have two more mouths to feed."
Once Susan was settled in her room, Dr. Greenwood suggested to Michael that he wait outside during the delivery, as with twins there just might be complications.
Michael paced up and down the long corridor. Whenever he reached the portrait of Josiah Preston hanging on the far wall, he turned and retraced his steps. On the first few of these route marches, Michael didn't stop to read the long biography printed below the portrait of the hospital's founder. By the time the doctor emerged through the double doors, Michael knew the man's entire life history by heart.
The green-clad figure walked slowly toward him before removing his mask. Michael tried to fathom the expression on his face. In his profession it was an advantage to be able to decipher expressions and second-guess thoughts, because when it came to selling life insurance you needed to anticipate any anxieties a potential client might have. However, when it came to this life insurance policy, the doctor gave nothing away. When they came face-to-face, he smiled and said, "Congratulations, Mr. Cartwright, you have two healthy sons."
Susan had delivered two boys, Nat at 4:37 and Peter at 4:43 that afternoon. For the next hour, the parents took turns cuddling them, until Dr. Greenwood suggested that perhaps mother and babies should be allowed to rest. "Having to feed two children will prove exhausting enough. I shall put them both in the special care nursery overnight," he added. "Nothing to worry about, because it's something we always do with twins."
Michael accompanied his two sons to the nursery, where once again he was asked to wait in the corridor. The proud father pressed his nose up against the pane of glass that divided the corridor from the row of cribs, gazing at the boys as they lay sleeping, wanting to tell everyone who passed, "they're both mine." He smiled at the nurse who was standing by their side keeping a watchful eye over the latest arrivals. She was placing name tags around their tiny wrists.
Michael couldn't remember how long he remained there before eventually returning to his wife's bedside. When he opened the door, he was pleased to find that Susan was fast asleep. He kissed her gently on the forehead. "I'll see you in the morning, honey, just before I go to work," ignoring the fact that she couldn't hear a word. Michael left her, walked down the corridor and stepped into the elevator to find Dr. Greenwood had exchanged his green scrubs for a sports jacket and gray flannels.
"I wish they were all that easy," he told the proud father as the elevator stopped on the ground floor. "Still, I'll drop by this evening, Mr. Cartwright, to check on your wife and see how the twins are doing. Not that I anticipate any problems."
"Thank you, doctor," said Michael. "Thank you."
Dr. Greenwood smiled, and would have left the hospital and driven home had he not spotted an elegant lady coming through the swing doors. He walked quickly across to join Ruth Davenport.
Michael Cartwright glanced back to see the doctor holding open the elevator doors for two women, one heavily pregnant. An anxious look had replaced Dr. Greenwood's warm smile. Michael only hoped that the doctor's latest charge would have as uncomplicated a birth as Susan had managed. He strolled across to his car, trying to think about what needed to be done next, still unable to remove the broad grin from his face.
The first thing he must do was phone his parents ... grandparents.
Robert Davenport, on the other hand, was not bound by the same professional etiquette and when he learned that his wife was expecting for a third time, he had been characteristically blunt. He simply issued an ultimatum: "this time you will take it easy," a euphemism for don't do anything that might harm the birth of our son. Robert Davenport assumed his firstborn would be a boy. He also knew that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for his wife to "take it easy." She was, after all, the daughter of Josiah Preston, and it was often said that if Ruth had been a boy, she, and not her husband, would have ended up as president of Preston Pharmaceuticals. But Ruth had to settle for the consolation prize when she succeeded her father as chairman of St. Patrick's Hospital Trust, a cause with which the Preston family had been associated for four generations.
Although some of the older fraternity at St. Patrick's needed to be convinced that Ruth Davenport was of the same mettle as her father, it was only weeks before they acknowledged that not only had she inherited the old man's energy and drive, but he had also passed on to her his considerable knowledge and wisdom, so often lavished on an only child.
Ruth hadn't married until the age of thirty-three. It certainly wasn't for lack of suitors, many of whom went out of their way to claim undying devotion to the heir of the Preston millions. Josiah Preston hadn't needed to explain the meaning of fortune hunters to his daughter, because the truth was that she simply hadn't fallen in love with any of them. In fact, Ruth was beginning to doubt if she would ever fall in love. Until she met Robert.
Robert Davenport had joined Preston Pharmaceuticals from Roche via Johns Hopkins and Harvard Business School, on what Ruth's father described as the "fast track." In Ruth's recollection, it was the nearest the old man had come to using a modern expression. Robert had been made a vice-president by the age of twenty-seven, and at thirty-three was appointed the youngest deputy chairman in the company's history, breaking a record that had been set by Josiah himself. This time Ruth did fall in love, with a man who was neither overwhelmed nor overawed by the Preston name or the Preston millions. In fact when Ruth suggested that perhaps she should become Mrs. Preston-Davenport, Robert had simply inquired, "When do I get to meet this Preston-Davenport fellow who hopes to prevent me from becoming your husband?"
Ruth announced she was pregnant only weeks after their wedding, and the miscarriage was almost the only blemish in an otherwise charmed existence. However, even this quickly began to look like a passing cloud in an otherwise clear blue sky, when she became pregnant again eleven months later.
Ruth had been chairing a board meeting of the Hospital Trust when the contractions began, so she only needed to take the elevator up two floors to allow Dr. Greenwood to carry out the necessary check-up. However, not even his expertise, his staff's dedication or the latest medical equipment could save the premature child. Kenneth Greenwood couldn't help recalling how, as a young doctor, he had faced a similar problem when he had delivered Ruth, and for a week the hospital staff didn't believe the baby girl would survive. And now the family was going through the same trauma thirty-five years later.
Dr. Greenwood decided to have a private word with Mr. Davenport, suggesting that perhaps the time had come for them to consider adoption. Robert reluctantly agreed, and said he would raise the subject with his wife just as soon as he felt she was strong enough.
Another year passed before Ruth agreed to visit an adoption society and with one of those coincidences that fate decides, and novelists are not allowed to consider, she became pregnant on the day she was due to visit a local children's home. This time Robert was determined to ensure that human error would not be the reason for their child failing to enter this world.
Ruth took her husband's advice, and resigned as chairman of the Hospital Trust. She even agreed that a full-time nurse should be employed-in Robert's words-to keep a watchful eye on her. Mr. Davenport interviewed several applicants for the post and short-listed those whom he considered held the necessary qualifications. But his final choice would be based solely on whether he was convinced the applicant was strong-willed enough to make sure that Ruth kept to her agreement to "take it easy," and to insist she didn't lapse into any old habits of wanting to organize everything she came across.
After a third round of interviews, Robert settled on a Miss Heather Nichol, who was a senior nurse on the maternity wing of St. Patrick's. He liked her no-nonsense approach and the fact that she was neither married nor graced with the kind of looks that would ensure that situation was likely to change in the foreseeable future. However, what finally tipped the balance was that Miss Nichol had already delivered over a thousand children into the world.
Robert was delighted by how quickly Miss Nichol settled into the household, and as each month slipped by, even he started to feel confident that they wouldn't be facing the same problem a third time. When Ruth passed first five, six, and then seven months without incident, Robert even raised the subject of possible Christian names: Fletcher Andrew if it was a boy, Victoria Grace if it was a girl. Ruth expressed only one preference; that were it a boy he should be known as Andrew, but all she hoped for was to be delivered of a healthy child.
Robert was in New York attending a medical conference, when Miss Nichol called him out of a seminar to report that his wife's contractions had begun. He assured her he would return by train immediately and then take a cab straight to St. Patrick's.
Excerpted from SONS OF FORTUNE by JEFFREY ARCHER Copyright © 2003 by Jeffrey Archer
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted August 30, 2011
This book is more of a drama then a action story though it does have its fair share of blood shed. The rivalry that the two men grow aroumd makes for some amazing story telling. Read this if you like court drama or good ol fashion politics.
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Posted January 22, 2004
I enjoyed reading the Sons of Fortune...until about the middle. After that it spirals down, crashing in the end which seems more the easy way out for a complicated situation than an actual ending. Situations that can not possibly happen, as well as errors and a rush to finish the book left me with a sense of betrayal by the author.
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Posted September 13, 2013
Posted August 21, 2013
Even a bad Jeffery Archer , as a lot of reviews pointed out, is still a good read. It is pretty east to predict, but I love reading his novels. I got this one combined with Kane and Able and really thought it was a continuation of that one, but it is entirely different characters, but still similar in a lot of respect.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 6, 2012
I really enjoyed the book. It keeps you intrigued until the last possible moment, and has some great twists and turns, some of which are unexpected.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2010
Posted February 20, 2010
In Hartford, Connecticut, in the late 1940s, a set of twins, separated at birth by accident/design and are reunited by destiny. One a Vietnam war hero and successful 1990s bank executive, the other a distinguished lawyer and politician. As much as a chronicle of a nation in transition, as the story of the making of these two men and how they eventually find each other, the story includes only one arch nemesis, instead of one for each brother. They both congeal on Ralph Elliot, the "don't think I wouldn't do it" enemy, that takes his own life to spite someone and not even for some imagined utopia. Shortly after that court case they both discover their true history, then, wisely decide to keep it secret instead of raising past ghosts. Of course, they decide to remain incognito, even of their wives, to their same history. It is left open as to what would happen if/when they run for President of the United States since their parenthood would be divulged in this eventuality.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 3, 2009
The novel is a riveting story of two men who are raised by two families, one wealthy and the other from a middle class background. Twins separated at birth, Fletcher Davenport and Nathaniel Cartwright, grow up in different worlds and they become two of the best and most intelligent of their era.
As often in Archer's books, there is a villain, Ralph Elliott. Elliott is ruthless, vengeful, and will do anything to gain all the power to reach his goals in life. He is hated by those around him and causes havoc in the twins lives.
Both Davenport and Cartwright have the loves of their lives behind them.
Cartwright's wife, Su Ling, is a Korean with a sinister background. His profound love of his wife shows the very romantic side of this novel.
Davenport on the other hand has Annie, the sister of his best friend. Annie is also the love of Davenport's life who stands beside him through thick and thin.
The two powerful men help each other through a murder trial, not knowing they are twins brought together through circumstances beyond their control.
Both men are running for the governor of Connecticut, one a democrat, and the other a republican. The end of the novel tells who is the winner of this political run. The reader must remember a part of the novel which they have already read, to know what the ending means to one of the men who becomes the governor.
This a powerful novel and the two twins are evermore good versus evil. Everyone should read this book from cover to cover to enjoy this gifted story.
Posted December 10, 2007
I must admit that 'As The Crow Flies' is one of my all time favorite books from ANY author. His other works, and this one is the worst, don't come close. This one is particularly bad! Poorly researched, thrown together, daytime soap opera garbage. Archer's ignorance of American law, the U.S. military, and even American English ruins the dialogue and storyline. I can only assume that the editor just wanted to get this book on the shelves because it never would have been published without Archer's name on it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 3, 2005
Not Archer's best by a long shot. His lack of simple research into American phrases, American colleges, the legal system, etc. is appalling. He puts British phrasing and terms into American mouths and it doesn't work. Also, he seems unable to track time very well. Those boys were born in 1950 or 51. He has Nat being drafted in 1967 when he was 16 or 17. A little research would have taken care of this. Really poor effort.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 21, 2005
Archer's 'Sons Of Fortune', is a bearable tale with an interesting plot. Though Archer clearly understands the ins and outs of the legal system, poitics, and businesses of America, he focuses primarily on them to create a story that would do much better with less of them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 23, 2004
I am surprised this was not better than I expected. Don't get me wrong, I am big fan of the author and have enjoyed his earlier work. But I think he rushed this one a little bit. I am really disappointed in the way he decided to end the story. I don't want to ruin it for everyone, but expect to be upset with the ending.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 14, 2004
This book is completely enthralling! I read the book over a two day period and was disappointed that it had to end- the way Archer makes Nat and Fletcher dance around each other is pure genius. I hope there's a sequel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 15, 2004
I have been a fan of Jeffrey Archer since 'Kane and Abel' and enjoyed this book thoroughly! Read it in one day and found myself wishing for it to never end.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2004
Posted March 20, 2004
First let me say that this book is a nice change of pace from the usual who done it or around the world chases that are so popular these days. But I felt a lot of this book was filler. It seemed to drag and I was wanting the brothers relationship developed earlier. Then, the thing that had me losing sleep was that I couldn't remember who tossed the coin heads up. I remember reading it but can't recall who did it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 19, 2004
IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME, I HAVE PICK UP ONE OF JEFFREY ARCHER'S BOOK. BUT LET ME TELL YOU, YOU SURE NOW HOW TO TELL A STORIE THAT KEEPS READERS ATENSION FOR HOURS. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 20, 2004
Ok, the critics can say all they want to about how this book wasn't of Archer's usual standards. But I've read almost all of his books (in the past year, no less!), and this one was just as great. Couldn't put it down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 6, 2003
Archer writes from the hip. Factual errors abound in this recent offering. He apparently doesn't know history or the military. Perhaps he should stick to sports stories since that is his area of study.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 16, 2003