Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review: Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

Title: Only Time Will Tell
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: August 30, 2011
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "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, but he learns about life on the docks from his uncle, who expects Harry to join him at the shipyard once he’s left school. But then an unexpected gift wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys’ school, and his life will never be the same again.
As he enters into adulthood, Harry 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 who spent his whole life on the docks, or the firstborn son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line?
This introductory novel in Archer’s ambitious series The Clifton Chronicles includes a cast of colorful characters and takes us from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry must decide whether to take up a place at Oxford or join the navy and go to war with Hitler’s Germany. From the docks of working-class England to the bustling streets of 1940 New York City, Only Time Will Tell takes readers on a journey through to future volumes, which will bring to life one hundred years of recent history to reveal a family story that neither the reader nor Harry Clifton himself could ever have imagined."

My Two Cents:

In "Only Time Will Tell," Harry Clifton believes that he will end up working at the docks like his father, whom he never met, and his uncle. When his singing talents allow him to land a scholarship to a super fancy school, his fate will change. Filled with family secrets and stories of the different ways life can take us, this book was the great kick off to what promises to be an exciting series!

I love characters that you can root for! Harry is the definitive underdog character. He is being raised by a single mother in a time where this was not common. Harry seems content to follow his father's footsteps. He isn't that interested in school and then fate intervenes and sends him on a different path.

I also really liked the setting. I loved the juxtaposition through Harry's relatively calm, no frills life with his mother and the lives of Harry's newfound friends at his new school. They are so different from each other but are still able to find common ground and really solidify their friendship. There are also some secret connections throughout the book that I'll go into more detail on below.

The biggest reason I enjoyed this book is all of the family secrets. Oh, there are some doozies in here. I don't want to give anything away but there are a lot of secret connections between Harry and some of the other characters in the book and I loved seeing them unraveled throughout the book.

Overall, this was an intriguing start that will definitely keep me reading!




  1. I read this, too, and liked it very much.

    Family sagas such as this book can be overly long and boring, especially for readers who enjoy books of thrills and suspense. I’m betting, though, that even those readers will love ONLY TIME WILL TELL. What saves it is Archer’s style. By telling the story from different character’s points of view, he keeps adding mysteries and solving them, building suspense by way of Hugo Barrington and the limping former policeman he employs. Still, this is a family saga, not a thriller.

    Also, Archer’s method, telling the story from various points of view, rounds out his characters. The reader will love some of them and care about them. So, even though the last part of the book is predictable and, I think, a little corny,

    1. OOps! the end of my comment was cut off. Here it is:

      , the reader will still hate to see the book end.


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