Be Careful What You Wish For Summary

Jeffrey Archer

Be Careful What You Wish For

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Be Careful What You Wish For Summary

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Be Careful What You Wish For is a 2014 historical novel by Jeffrey Archer. The fourth novel in the Clifton Chronicles, it concerns the Barrington-Clifton family between 1957 and 1964, during a time when one of its members, Emma, tries to rise to control of its shipping company. Emma has to fight back against efforts of sabotage and malicious internal actors; namely, Don Pedro Martinez, a mastermind who tries to usurp the dynasty as it tries to build a luxury ship called the MV Buckingham. The series is known for putting the mid-twentieth century under a social realist and feminist lens.

The novel begins as Emma and Harry, her husband, race to the hospital to find out what has happened to their son, Sebastian, who was in a car accident. Emma reaches the morgue to see the sole victim’s body, finding that it belongs to Bruno, Sebastian’s friend. The police return with the conclusions of their investigation, relating that witnesses told them that three lorries had surrounded the car, deliberately forcing an accident. Sebastian was said to have been the driver, though he did not own the car.

Meanwhile, Ross Buchanan has resigned from his chairmanship of the Barrington Shipping Company. Emma resolves to fill his spot but is stalled by Martinez, who nominates one of his men, Major Alex Fisher, to sabotage the firm during this critical moment. Martinez strategically sets up obstacles to their shipbuilding project in Belfast in order to drain the company’s finances until it cannot complete the assignment. In a turn of events, Cedric Hardcastle takes a position on Barringtons’ board, and the outcome of the chairman vote becomes more uncertain. Hardcastle opts to abstain, putting the outcome in Buchanan’s hands.

In London, Emma’s daughter, Jessica wins a grant to attend an art academy. There, she falls in love with Clive Bingham, who proposes to her. Both sides of the family are elated, until Clive’s mother meets Lady Virginia Fenwick, who tells her that Jessica is adopted. Martinez also raids Jessica’s apartment, destroying much of her art. Devastated after these events, Jessica commits suicide.

Remorseful that he failed to act in time to avert her suicide, and now aware that Martinez has been trying to sabotage the company, Hardcastle teams up with the Barrington family to help defeat him. He recruits a team of stockbrokers and bankers, as well as Sebastian and his son Arnold. A week before the final shareholders meeting before the election of a chairman, the family learns that Martinez is intending to sell his Barrington stock, as well as his artwork, and wants to publicize Fisher’s board resignation to create shareholder panic and sway the election outcome.

The story shifts to Sebastian’s recovery at the hospital after the accident. Cedric lies in a nearby bed, and Hardcastle visits to teach him finance and business skills. Sebastian tells Hardcastle to buy 7.5 percent of the stock of Barrington’s to leverage a win for the chairmanship. Hardcastle encounters Samantha Sullivan, whose father is a diplomat for the United States. He asks for her hand in marriage, and she accepts.

When the Martinez family is busy on holiday in Glenleven, Hardcastle takes the opportunity to covertly sell his stock to take advantage of the dip once Martinez manipulates the market. Since the Barrington family is prohibited from buying more stock, he taps Robert Bingham to make the purchase. Buchanan watches Martinez’s every move to make sure Hardcastle’s plan goes well. The plan works, and Don Pedro goes bankrupt. His son, Diego, is deported to Argentina for trying to bribe a stockbroker to reverse the sale, as well as Luis, for trespassing. Major Fisher realizes he has been outsmarted and can no longer become appointed to the board because Hardcastle relinquished his position when he sold his stock. He sends Emma his resignation letter. At the press conference, Lady Fenwick speaks out, declaring that she will sue Emma for slander.

Humiliated, Don Pedro falls into a fit of rage, antagonizing his colleagues and sons. In a last-ditch revenge effort, he tries to get the IRA to bomb the MV Buckingham on its way to New York. The IRA, finding out that he intended to short them the bounty fee, holds him at gunpoint at the novel’s cliffhanger ending. At the same moment, the IRA members board the ship and plant the bomb. That night, a member arms its 30-minute timer. The book ends with a bomb blast, though it is uncertain whether the terrorist act is successful.

A winding and involved story, Be Careful What You Wish For profiles a family’s effort to stick together to prevent their dynasty’s takeover by a vengeful master manipulator. In the process, they strengthen their identity and learn who can be trusted.