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393 of 411 people found the following review helpful
I have only read one Jeffrey Archer and that was Not a Penny Less, Not a Penny More, the book which restored him to financial security after his bankruptcy and have to say that I was distinctly underwhelmed. I read some of his short stories some years later which I remember being impressed with but since then nothing. So when this dropped through my letter box I really did not know what to expect.

Well, I loved it. I have heard all the rumours that seven editors or more sit down with seven pens and rewrite Archer's books and was never sure if this was true or not, or just one of those apocryphal stories that do the rounds, but I did rather sheer away from his output because of this. Read this through in one sitting and if ever the phrase a 'page-turner' was the right description, then it certainly is applicable here.

Harry Clifton is the son of a docker who had died in mysterious circumstances, and his mother is struggling to bring him up in dire poverty. Harry is fascinated by the docks, plays truant from school and doesn't seem to have much going for him. But he is the possessor of a beautiful, treble voice and this leads him to a choral scholarship at a posh school where he meets and befriends two companions who are going to influence his future life. One of these is Giles Barrington, son of a wealthy businessman and owner of the docks where Harry's father died. As soon as we meet Hugo Barrington and see his reaction to Harry, we are left in no doubt as to the possibilities for intrigue and underhand machinations ahead of us. And so it proves.

The story is told from several viewpoints, Harry, his mother Maisie, Hugo, Old Jack Tar (a mysterious and educated man who is one of Harry's supporters but who lives a reclusive life), Giles Barrington and his sister Emma. Not a huge amount of characterisation or details given in this book, the protagonists are there for one purpose only and that is to be the hook for the story line and to be moved around accordingly. The plot turns are signalled well ahead and are easy to spot before they even happen and the ending of this first volume entirely predictable, but this did not lessen my enjoyment in any way. It is a rattling good yarn, with pacy narrative and once started, almost impossible to put down.
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149 of 161 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2011
An absolute cracking read which is what I have come to expect from Jeffrey Archer's novels. However, I have one major criticism, and that is that I wished I would have been made aware from the beginning that this book was going to be part of what appears to be a 'Tribology'. Had I known this, I would not have been put in a rather bad mood by what appeared to be an open (and most unusual) ending. I will now have to wait at J.Archer's convenience before he gets around to publishing part 2 & 3 (which hopefully will be available in Kindle format).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2014
The first Jeffrey Archer novel I've read and I have to say I really enjoyed it.

Set between World War 1 and 2, the book tells the tale of the early life of Harry Clifton. The son of a dock worker who dies in mysterious circumstances, with a thirst for knowledge and blessed with a good choral voice, Harry finds himself through scholarships mixing with the upper classes and in particular with the Barrington family who were his fathers employers.

The story unfolds by relating events from the point of view of the main characters involved, so each character's viewpoint reveals a little more insight into the events. This is the clever part of the writing, which kept me interested into how things would turn out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Jeffrey Archer's standard plot seems to be young man/or woman of meager means battles his/her way up the social and economic ladder against all odds. ONLY TIME WILL TELL is the first of three novels in the Clifton Chronicles and details the life of Harry Clifton, son of a now deceased stevedore father and an up -by-the-bootstraps hardworking mother who will do anything to assure her son's opportunity for a golden future.

Beginning in the years following WWI and relayed with all the requisite Archer melodrama, Harry's story is told in the first person by several different narrators forcing the reader to cover the same ground again and again as it is retold from each narrator's point of view. (This fills pages but does very little to move the story along). The cast, too, is definitive Archer with the stalwart young Harry being guided by an eccentric loner named Jack Tar who lives in a well furnished railroad car, befriended by the scion of the wealthy Barrington family, aided by a bevy of well-meaning "teachers", falling in love with the wrong girl, learning the deep dark secrets of his life and finally running off to sea.

There are no real surprises here. All the good folks are self-sacrificing and noble and the villains practically have venom dripping from their teeth and possess not one redeeming quality. Yet with nothing new in his bag of tricks Archer still managed to keep me reading right up to the end ...... which is in truth just the cliffhanger that will begin part two in Harry Clifton's century of adventure.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2013
This lavish storyline draws you in from page one. Descriptive, likeable characters pull at your heart strings. This book has everything, love, excitement, danger, family, lies, all woven into a saga set against the backdrop of impending war. I could not wait to start part 2 !
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2011
Jeffrey Archer writes in such a fluid way that his books are among the most relaxing and enjoyable to read. Only Time will Tell seems like quite a gentle tale so it is almost surprising that it is impossible to put down and you long for your next quiet moment that you can settle down to a peaceful bit of indulgent reading (not easy with toddlers constantly under your feet!). I now have 20 or so pages left and the excitement of the story has definitely lifted, but above all else I'm just so sad that I've read this book the minute it was published and will therefore have to wait, presumably for a significant amount of time, until the next instalment is printed. Because of the gentle start to the story and the detailed shaping of the main characters, it is very apparent throughout the story that this is the first of a trilogy and that the story is going to build into something far more dramatic as the characters reach adulthood so I am greatly anticipating the future "Clifton Chronicles". Please let them be printed soon!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2012
Having read quite a few of Jeffrey Archer's previous novels, and enjoyed them very much, I found this one to be a bit bland. The story is told from the viewpoint of several different characters, and while I don't mind that, quite enjoy it in fact most of the time, I found that this attempt was too repetitive, so I felt like I was just re-reading the same think over again.

Also I was annoyed at the end to find that the story just ended on a cliffhanger. Even when a book is part of a set I think that each story should be complete in itself, and to have it finish so abruptly annoyed me. I am now cutting my losses, and won't be reading the other 4 books in the series (when they are eventually written).
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*****This review may contain spoilers*****

From the description, this one line sums up the first book in the Clifton Chronicles, - You will be faced with a dilemma that neither you, nor Harry Clifton could have anticipated. The key question from the start of the story is who is Harry's father? Then before you answer this comes the next crucial question, did Arthur Clifton who is said to be Harry's father really die in the war as witnessed by his Uncle Stan.

I must say from the beginning of the story to the end, Archer's storytelling was so captivating that I was drawn into this tangled web. Hugo Barrington is a piece of work. The way he manipulates his family and people around him is for the sole purpose that he will be victorious in the end. Whether this actually happens or not is a different story. He covered a single lie with another and ends up losing the people who loved him.

The predicament that Harry and Emma find themselves in is heartbreaking and I cannot imagine what it would have been like for Emma to find out such an important detail on the day of her wedding. The other part of the story that literally had me in tears is when Harry finds Jack Tar dead, wearing his Victoria Cross.

This is an emotional read and I am honoured to have been a part of Harry's journey thus far. Now on to the second book in the series.

Would I recommend this read? In a hearbeat. If you think Archer's books were good before, this is GREAT.

Overall assessment:
Content: 5/5
Editing: 5/5
Formatting: 5/5
Pacing: 5/5

Offensive content?: Based on language and settings, I would recommend this book for readers aged 13 and above.
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It’s been some years now since I read a Jeffrey Archer novel with Kane & Able being my favourite but with all the infamy the Tory peer has received it seemed his personal life would eclipse his literary one. When I saw the first instalments of his new series The Clifton Chronicles for the bargain price of 99p I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

I delved I to the first book in the series a little unsure of what to expect, the 1980′s were the height of books which charted grand family sagas but would this format stand the test of the new millennia? I have to be honest and admit I was 100% gripped, I literally could not put it down. It was so well crafted and woven together that each chapter seemed to fly past in a myriad of action and drama.

It was such a lovely story of young Harry Clifton, the dockers son who through hard work, help from friends and the love of his mother finds himself at a private boys school achieving opportunities previously out with his grasp. At the heart of the story the question as to whom his father truly was, docker Arthur Clifton or shipping magnate Hugo Barrington. It is the relationships between Harry and his mother and his friend Old Jack which truly make the book come alive and lift it above the norm, truly wonderful writing.

It was just a joy to read, Archer left the book on such a cliffhanger that it is difficult not to rush off immediately and begin book 2 but then to rush them would seem a little indulgent and besides I have 4 children who might like to have a conversation with their mother this weekend and if I begin book 2 I couldn’t entirely promise them that…..
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on 8 March 2014
The epic tale of Harry Clifton is an impressive feat that takes you on an unforgettable journey, spanning across the Great War and through to the Second World War. What struck me instantly was how the simply sublime storytelling was founded on pure genius, so evocatively realised by a masterful writer. Harry's tale is profoundly powerful, touching and so enthralling that it really gets `underneath your skin'. When tragedy struck and unexpected, shocking twists in the tale caught me unawares I was left literally gasping in awe! Never have I been so deeply moved by a character's story or shaken by a story that's so heartrending, poignant and impacting that it left me aghast...
The cliffhanger ending was frustratingly brilliant as too was the way in which the deftly interwoven plot seamlessly transports you from WW1 and into the midst of WW2. (Ken Follett definitely has a new rival!!)
`Only time will tell' is a thoroughly enjoyable, unputdownable novel that grabs hold and never lets go. Utterly relentless drama and exquisite details are just a few elements that present such premise - for something BIG yet to come! This is a tale of love, treachery, deceit, decency and most of all about good triumphing over evil. Anyone who loves epic, multi-generational sagas fit for a television drama series will connect with the characters within this story, as they are so convincing and credible.

Undeniably impressive and surprisingly readable this fast-paced page-turner certainly was not what I expected at all! I was left reeling in places over the decisions that the main protagonist was faced with, whilst also personal thoughts regarding both wars were brought to the forefront of my mind. "The Sins of the father" (book 2: the Clifton chronicles) is without a doubt going to be at the top of my to-read list; plus I urge those who have not discovered Jeffery Archer to do so.

I am so pleased to have won through a Goodreads, first-read giveaway this 5 star exceptionally astounding story.

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