Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Ebook and Hardcover
Series: #1 in the Clifton Chronicles Series
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 360
Source: Purchased (ebook) and Library (hardcover)

The Book:
From the publisher:

The epic tale of Harry Clifton’s life begins in 1920, with the words “I was told that my father was killed in the war.” A dock worker in Bristol, Harry never knew his father and expects to continue on at the shipyard, until a remarkable gift wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys’ school, and his life will never be the same again…

As Harry enters into adulthood, he finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth only leads him to question: Was he even his father? Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore, or the firstborn son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line? From the ravages of the Great War and the docks of working-class England to the streets of 1940 New York City and the outbreak of the Second World War, this is a powerful journey that will bring to life one hundred years of history to reveal a family story that neither the reader nor Harry Clifton himself could ever have imagined.

My Thoughts:
Oh this was just the kind of family saga I was in the mood for. Archer is a long time favorite author of mine for books that are entertaining and interesting. It’s been a long time since I’ve read one of his and I’m glad I finally pulled this one out of my ebook files.

The Clifton Chronicles was originally planned to be a five book series following the life of Harry Clifton. Plans change and the final (and seventh) book will be published in November. So by waiting so long to read this one I have done myself a favor. This first book ended on a huge cliffhanger and from what I have read so do the rest of the books. At least I won’t be stuck waiting for the next one to be released.

Starting in 1920 and ending just as Britain declared war on Germany in 1939 the story is primarily about Harry Clifton but also about several other members of the Clifton and Barrington families.

Each section of the book focuses on one of the several main characters. Each begins with a short first person introduction from the character and then follows that character for varying periods of time. The time frames of the sections overlap so along with multiple viewpoints there are multiple time periods.

It’s an interesting way to tell the story. Things mentioned early on in a part about Harry’s mother might be fully understood several parts later in one about Harry’s friend and mentor Old Jack.

Archer is great at rags to riches stories and those that highlight the differences between the haves and the have-nots.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit and look forward to continuing with the series.

4 stars Rating 4/5