Synopses & Reviews
On July 19, 2001, following a conviction for perjury, international bestselling author Jeffrey Archer was sentenced to four years in prison. Prisoner FF8282, as Archer is now known, spent the first three weeks in the notorious HMP Belmarsh, a high-security prison in South London, home to murderers, terrorists and some of Britain's most violent criminals.
On the last day of the trial, his mother dies, and the world's press accompany him to the funeral. On returning to prison, he's placed on the lifer's wing, where a cellmate sells his story to the tabloids. Prisoners and guards routinely line up outside his cell to ask for his autograph, to write letters, and to seek advice on their appeals.
For twenty-two days, Archer was locked in a cell with a murderer and a drug baron. He decided to use that time to write an hour-by-hour diary, detailing the worst three weeks of his life.
When A Prison Diary was published in England, it was condemned by the prison authorities, and praised by the critics.
"As recounted in this second installment of his prison diary, Archer's 67 days at Wayland, a medium-security facility in Norfolk, sounds much more pleasant than the time he spent at a maximum-security facility in London, where his status as a bestselling novelist and member of the House of Lords didn't help much. At Wayland, after making the right connections, he could use his considerable fortune to buy decent food, extra phone cards, have his laundry done even arrange to bid on a $900,000 painting by the Colombian artist Botero, thanks to an inmate being deported back to that country. But as he points out after a fight between prisoners results in a man's head being split open by a snooker ball, 'I go into great detail to describe this incident simply because those casually reading this diary might be left with an impression that life at Wayland is almost bearable. It isn't.' Archer comes across as a remarkable piece of work a character only a novelist as subtle as Anthony Powell could invent. At one moment he's remembering discussions with fellow Conservative politicians about the future of the party; the next he's complaining about the prison menu. What obviously kept him going and will keep readers turning the pages is his ability to write by hand up to 3,000 words a day of his journals and his 2002 novel, Sons of Fortune, while maintaining the wry humor that can cause him to comment, after seeing a recent TV adaptation of Great Expectations, 'If I hadn't been in prison, I would have walked out after fifteen minutes.' Agent, Jonathan Lloyd at Curtis Brown. (July 3)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Other than his conventional take on the events of September 11th, this is not terribly different from [Archer's] previous outing....His text is still larded with cricketer jargon indecipherable this side of the Atlantic....Plan an escape." Kirkus Reviews
Archer shares an hour-by-hour diary that details the first three weeks of a four-year perjury sentence which was spent living among Britain's worst violent criminals.
On August 9, 2001, 22 days after Archer--now known as Prisoner FF8282--was sentenced to four years in prison for perjury, he was transferred from a maximum security prison in London to HMP Wayland, a medium security prison in Norfolk. For the next 67 days, as he waited to be reclassified for an "open," minimum security prison, he encountered not only the daily degradations of a dangerously overstretched prison system but also the spirit and courage of his fellow inmates.
Purgatory: A Prison Diary, Volume 2, is Archer's frank, shocking, sometimes humorous, sometimes horrifying account of those 67 days.
About the Author
Jeffrey Archer was educated at Oxford University. In 1969, aged 29, he became one of the youngest Members of Parliament; he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in 1985, and in 1992 was elevated to the House of Lords. All of his novels and short story collections including Kane and Abel, Honor Among Thieves, and most recently, Sons of Fortune have been international bestsellers. Archer is married, has two children, and lives in England.