As the Crow Flies

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The grandson of an “honest trader” who became a legend in London’s East End, Charlie Trumper is driven to fulfill a destiny even more spectacular than his forebear’s. With the help of his wife, and a few unexpected friends, Charlie is able to achieve success beyond even his rather grandiose dreams.

Unfortunately, along the way, happenstance allows Charlie’s rise to fame and fortune to intersect with the dreams and ambitions of Guy Trentham and his mother Ethel. Ethel Trentham has plans for herself and her oldest son, but Charlie gets in the way—disastrously so. In consequence, Mrs. Trentham enters into a vendetta of cataclysmic proportions.

Needless to say, all’s well that ends well, and virtue will out in this sprawling best-seller by one of the virtuosos of soap-opera fiction. Archer enlivens AS THE CROW FLIES by switching from successive first-person narratives to a third-person account of Charlie Trumper’s life and times. The chronological overlap within this work is therefore at times extreme, but the format allows Archer to present personal insights that would be impossible to achieve otherwise. Admittedly, the ability of Charlie and his wife Rebecca to transcend the rigid class structure which obtained in Britain until well after World War II seems a bit implausible, but Archer’s talent allows the reader to suspend disbelief.