English 12 Independent Novel Study


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English 12 Independent Novel Study

Total Value: 20 points
It is expected that you read on your own during the course of this semester. While we will have reading class once per week, reading outside of class is required. At the start of every class we will have a Book Talk where we discuss what is being read. By the end of the semester you will have completed 4 Book Talks. Once per term you must respond in writing to your novel (a different novel each term) in the following manner:
1. Research the author of the novel and in a paragraph or two, detail the date and place of his/her birth, where they have lived and a bit about their life, and the type of writing for which they are known.

Outcome: Access, select and research in systematic ways specific information to meet personal and individual learning needs, use the electronic network, and evaluate the research process.
2. Summarize the novel in a one half page (typed) write up. Include the growth of the main character, the conflict, and how the conflict was resolved.

Outcome: Construct meaning in reading complex and sophisticated print text
3. Respond personally to the novel. That is, explain what aspects you enjoyed and what you may have found difficult. This could include mention of language, description, realism or other literary techniques. Comment also on the theme. Outcome: Articulate your own processes and strategies in exploring, interpreting, and reflecting on text.

4. Connect the novel to an aspect of your own experience – be it something you have heard, read, or seen. You may also connect with what you believe to be the relevance of the novel or its purpose, even though you have not had any personal experience related to the text.

Outcome: Make informed personal responses to challenging text and reflect on your responses.
Gr.12 Independent Novel Study Rubric










Independent Novel Study – Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer

Author Research

Jeffrey Archer was born in London, England in 1940 to William, a printer, and Lola, a journalist. After graduating from Wellington School, a prestigious independent boarding school, he trained with the army, police and even worked as a physical education teacher. While studying at Brasenose College in Oxford, he excelled in varsity sports and also met his wife, Mary, whom he married in July 1966. At the age of 29 Archer was elected a Member of Parliament for the Conservative party and served for 5 years until 1974. He was forced to step down after filing for bankruptcy when a Canadian company he had invested in was found to be fraudulent.

It was in an attempt to recoup his lost fortune and repay his debts that he turned to writing. In 1976 he wrote and published Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, which was an immediate success and prevented him from being legally declared bankrupt. Kane and Abel was his third and most successful novel, published in 1979, having sold over 3.5 million copies in paperback alone. Since that time he has become known for his dynamic plot lines and thrilling insights into human nature. His most recent novel, Only Time Will Tell, was released March 1, 2011, and sold out the day it was released.
Novel Summary

Kane and Abel chronicles the lives of two men who are born on opposite continents to very different circumstances. William Kane is born in Boston, MA to a wealthy banker family, while Wladek Koskiewicz is born into more humble circumstances in Poland and raised as an orphan by a gypsy family. Wladek’s life changes when he is taken into the home of Baron Rosnovski, a wealthy nobleman, who gives him an education. When World War One breaks out and Germany invades Poland, the Baron’s castle is taken under siege and its inhabitants imprisoned. After three years of confinement only Wladek survives and is then taken to a harsh Russian labour camp where he is convinced he will die. However, with the help of a doctor, Wladek is able to escape and eventually makes his way to America, at which point he changes his name to Abel Rosnovski.

With only a few dollars to his name Abel manages to find a job at a hotel in New York City. While working as a waiter at the hotel, his strong work ethic catches the attention of Davis Leroy, the owner of a large hotel chain. Leroy offers Abel the position of manager at his flagship hotel, which Abel quickly turns into a profit-making hotel for the first time. When the Great Depression hits the hotel chain needs more financial support from the bank, which Leroy is unable to attain. As a result of the mounting stress, Leroy commits suicide, leaving his hotels to Abel. He notes in his final letter that it was William Kane’s bank that refused to back him. Abel sees Leroy’s death as Kane’s fault and seeks revenge. The rest of the novel showcases the bitter struggle between Kane and Abel throughout the decades to squash the other’s success.

Amidst this conflict, Kane’s son, Richard, and Abel’s daughter, Florentyna, meet and fall in love without knowing who each other’s fathers are. Despite their fathers’ differences and objections, they get married and have children of their own. Near the end of the novel, Abel finally manages to overcome Kane and Kane dies before ever meeting his grandchildren. Abel comes to realize that Kane was not responsible for Leroy’s death and that this decades-long conflict was for naught. He is able to meet his grandchildren and dies soon after, leaving everything to his daughter except for the silver band of authority, which he bequeaths to his grandson, William Abel Kane.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel because of its historical backdrop, dynamic plot and theme. I think it is quite impressive how Archer intermingles the fictitious lives of his characters with true major world events throughout the decades, such as the sinking of the Titanic, WWI, the Great Depression, WWII and the election of John F. Kennedy, to name a few. I found this made the plot come alive and also aided in the process of characterization. The reader sees Kane and Abel react to the stock market crash of 1929 in the same way authentic way real people did during that time.

Archer definitely has a talent for moving plot along in a very captivating and satisfying fashion. The novel switches back and forth between the lives of the two men and the reader is constantly wondering at first how their lives will intersect, and then when they finally do, who will be victorious in the end.

Perhaps the most interesting literary technique Archer uses in Kane and Abel is symbolism. Abel is given a very rare silver bracelet from the Baron on his deathbed, which comes to symbolize authority and power. There are times throughout the novel when Abel almost loses his bracelet, or power, as he struggles to survive. In the end Abel leaves everything to his daughter, except the silver bracelet, which he gives specifically to his grandson, William Abel Kane, as if to show that he now has the authority to end the destructive forces of revenge once and for all.

This novel quite clearly explores the theme of how destructive, obsessive, and wasteful revenge can be. Both Kane and Abel are obsessed with bringing about the other’s downfall to the point where they are both willing to shut out their own children to prove a point. In the end, however, they both realize their energies could have been better spent, although a little too late for Kane who never gets to reconcile with his son. Abel is not given much more time to enjoy his grandchildren before he, too, dies.

The only thing I found challenging with this novel was Archer’s use of financial terms that are associated with banking and commerce. That being said, it wasn’t so dense that it became overwhelming or took away from the plot; just merely distracting.


This novel reminds me of the Biblical story of the brothers Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s children. In this story Cain kills Abel out of jealousy. While Kane does not kill Abel in this novel, there is obvious conflict between the two.

This novel also reminds me of a character in the movie Home Alone named Old Man Marley. Marley is estranged from his son due to an old argument and young Kevin encourages him to reconcile so that he can enjoy his family and see his granddaughter more. In the end, he does reconcile with his son, much like Abel reconciles with his daughter before he dies.

Works Cited

"Biography | Official Web Site for Jeffrey Archer." Jeffrey Archer Official Web Site. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. .

"Jeffrey Archer - Biography on Bio." Bio. - Shows, Schedules, and Biographies on Bio. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. .

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