Monday, 9 March 2015

Only Time Will Tell

Author: Jeffrey Archer
Genre: Historical Fiction, Family Saga
Series: #1 in the Clifton Family Chronicles
Type: Hardcover
Source: Local Public Library
Pages: 400
Publisher:  St Martin's Press
First Published: August 2011
First Line: "This story would never had been written if I hadn't become pregnant."

Book Description from GoodReads:  From the internationally bestselling author of Kane and Abel and A Prisoner of Birth comes Only Time Will Tell, the first in an ambitious new series that tells the story of one family across generations, across oceans, from heartbreak to triumph.

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 Review:  I'm always on the hunt for a big, sweeping family saga.  Something to lose myself in as I read about the foibles, backstabbing and general issues in the characters' lives.  After having a library customer suggest this series I decided to pick it up and ended up enjoying it quite a bit.

This first book in the series has a lot going for it.  It's set in an interesting era (begins in 1920's England), it has multiple story lines and a cast of characters that keep it interesting.  The writing style was an interesting choice but I'm not sure that I'm a fan of it.  Archer gives his reader a look at the same circumstance via different points of view of several of his characters.  Even though each character added a little bit of their own insight into the situations it still felt like I was re-reading the plot and it ended up feeling a little redundant.  Perhaps it could have been done in a different way to keep the momentum up and to give the reader a little more to work with.

The plot itself was a little predictable with soap opera-like twists but enjoyable nonetheless.  Archer's writing has a certain ease to it which makes this book a good, relaxing read.  In the end this was an enjoyable start to a series.  The ending makes the reader want to pick up the next book in this series soon. 

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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