Title: Only Time Will Tell
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Series: The Clifton Chronicles (Book 1)
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Family Saga
First Publication: 2011
Major Characters: Harry Clifton, Maisie Clifton, Captain Jack Tarrant, Sir Walter Barrington, Hugo Barrington, Elizabeth Barrington, Giles Barrington, Emma Barrington
Narration: Third Person
Followed by: The Sins of the Father
Book Summary: Only Time Will Tell
This epic tale of Harry Clifton’s life begins in 1919, in the backstreets of Bristol. His father was a war hero, but it will be twenty-one tumultuous years before Harry discovers the truth about how his father really died and if, in fact, he even was his father.
The first in the series, Only Time Will Tell takes a cast of memorable characters from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry must decide whether to take his place at Oxford, or join the fight against Hitler’s Germany.
In Jeffrey Archer’s masterful hands, you will be taken on a journey that you won’t want to end, even after you turn the last page of this unforgettable yarn, because you will be faced with a dilemma that neither you, nor Harry Clifton could ever have anticipated.
Book Review: Only Time Will Tell
I’m a big fan of sweeping, multi-generational, decade-spanning novels. I love learning about the life and loves of a particular character and those people that mean the most to him. Jeffery Archer is one of the authors that made me love this genre. And he has certainly done it again with Only Time Will Tell.
Only Time Will Tell, the first book in the Clifton Chronicles series, is the story of Harry Clifton. Clifton comes from a very modest home and humble beginnings. All along, people around him can tell that there’s something special about Harry. Over time, they prove that to themselves many times over, all the while showing and leading Harry to the same conclusion. Time is the first part of the Clifton Chronicles series, so this book mainly deals with the time that Harry’s at school.
“Some people standby you in your darkest hour while others walk away; only a select few march towards you and become even closer friends.”
Harry has great friends and family, which leads to a wonderful cast of characters. Maisie, his mother, plays a huge role in his life, as does Old Jack Tar. His widowed mother works constantly to help her son get ahead, and his teachers and Jack Tar teach him all they can about the academic world and the world outside academia. Miss Monday, the choir master, pushes him to become more, and encourages him to sing. His two best friends, Deakins and Giles Barrington, stick by him during high times and low.
The rest of the Barrington family play a large role in the book, too. Elizabeth Barrington, Giles’ mother, is always sweet and encouraging. Giles’ grandfather, Walter, is also hugely supportive. Hugo, Giles’ father, is the antithesis of that, and leaves much to be desired. It is Giles’ middle sister, though, who has Harry’s heart. Emma Barrington is Harry’s one true love. But will their love last? Will there be more obstacles to overcome?
“If you make a deal with a fool, don’t be surprised when they act foolishly.”
I’m a history nerd, and love to read things that truly incorporate a particular time period into a story. Jeffrey Archer has managed to seamlessly intertwines the years and going-ons of Great Britain and the world together in his newest tale. Even if it is a little mention of a newscast, a new book or movie, the reader can definitely tell that he did his research.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for several reasons. First, Archer really connects his characters. Second, he fleshes out the aforementioned characters. Third, he tells a gripping tale that has twists and turns that I certainly did not see coming. Last, he leaves you wanting more.
What a great read. As I said, I’m a huge Jeffery Archer fan, and I love that he’s gone back to chronicle the life of a family, much as he did with As the Crow Flies among other books. I can’t wait to read the second book in the Clifton Chronicles!