Jeffrey (Howard) Archer Robert Hewison - Essay

Robert Hewison

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

With the exception of a sad tale of adultery in New York, [the dozen stories in A Quiver full of Arrows] could all have been written at any time since 1910—there is a bow to Somerset Maugham and a cricketing story straight out of Boy's Own Paper. The only sign of modernity is the use of names: ever since Ian Fleming brand names have been used as a substitute for authenticity, and Archer names faces as well as brands, asserting that all the stories but one are based on known incidents….

Jeffrey Archer has knocked about a bit, and it is interesting to see what themes concern this man of the world. There is clearly a nostalgia for the social securities of Oxford and Cambridge and cricket, and the business world is presented as, if not wholly corrupt, then hardly playing the game. Wealth is one obsession, and writers, or the idea of being a writer, are another; but if Archer truly wants to be a good writer he should avoid repeating himself within the narrow confines of twelve stories. There are two characters of extreme punctuality, and two stories concerning corruption, the construction industry and developing countries. Only the last story, "Old Love" shows very much feeling or ingenuity of invention. A Quiver full of Arrows is eminently readable, easily forgettable.

Robert Hewison, "Naming Names," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1980; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 4051, November 21, 1980, p. 1313.