Short stories have always been my favourite. The lazy reader that I am, tales that could be finished at one sitting were always my preference. In light of that, And Thereby Hangs a Tale by Jeffrey Archer was a perfect read on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Archer is a well-known name in the literary world, with many bestsellers to his credit. That his works would be good is no surprise. In this collection of fifteen tales, he travels from Ireland to Italy to India, penning down stories and occasionally interspersing his views of the various cultures into the plot. Some, as the author claims, are based on true events.
Undoubtedly, the best story is Stuck On You. A young woman befriends a man to steal the most coveted diamond ring! The narration is enthralling, and the ending twist leaves one absolutely speechless.
High Heels is the story of a young insurance detective who solves his first independent case with the help of his wife.
Some of my other favourites are Where There is a Will, I Will Survive and Politically Correct. These are equally fantastic with interesting twists in the end.
Caste-Off is a heartwarming tale of two Indian lovers, almost torn apart by the Caste System prevalent in the country. A tragedy strikes them, and life is never the same again. It gives a touching end to the book.
But not all narratives are as fascinating. For instance, Blind Date and The Queen’s Birthday Telegram are pretty mediocre and predictable.
Members Only made me lose patience with the sheer length and lack of any hook or cliffhanger.
Archer’s skill lies in weaving in riveting plots and ending them with a beautiful twist, one that would startle the unsuspecting reader, especially in the initial chapters. However, he overplays the “ending with a twist” theme to an extent that after the fifth or sixth piece, the reader gets acquainted to this style, and midway, begins to understand that there surely is a twist waiting in the end.
Nonetheless, And Thereby Hangs a Tale is a good book and barring a few, most tales are well-written. I would give it 3.5 stars out of five, and recommend it for those who love to read Short Stories.
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