Saturday, September 03, 2011

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

Although Jeffrey Archer's first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, was my favorite, he made his name with his 1980 book, Kane and Abel. It went to number one on the New York Times bestseller list. It was the first of his novels to tell the story of conflict in the rise to power. Now, with Only Time Will Tell, he returns to the pattern that launched his success. This is the first in a multigenerational saga, The Clifton Chronicles. Thirty-one years after the success of Kane and Abel, Jeffrey Archer still has the ability to tell a good story, introduce fascinating characters, and leave the reader with a cliffhanger ending. Darn him anyway.

Only Time Will Tell is the story of Harry Clifton until the age of twenty, but it's told from various viewpoints, beginning with Harry's mother, Maisie, who tells of the day she lost her virginity, just before her marriage. One afternoon will change the lives of so many people, not just Maisie's and Harry's. Harry only knew his father had died shortly after he was born, but he never knew the truth. And, people conspired to keep that from him.

At the same time, people conspired to improve Harry's lot in life. He went from a young boy who only hoped to work on the docks, to a boy blessed with a beautiful voice, encouraged to use that voice and get an education. In the course of the years of Harry's education, he tells his own story. It's also seen through the eyes of his mentor, Old Jack Tar; his best friend, Giles Barrington; the woman who loves Harry; and his mother. Readers will root for Harry. But, it's not fair to leave us with a cliffhanger following traumatic, and dramatic, changes in Harry's life, on the verge of World War II.

There are so many strong, courageous people to admire in Only Time Will Tell, beginning with Harry's mother. Maisie had no education, but she fought to get an education for her son. And, she has to fight throughout this story. Despite the ups and downs of her life, everything she did was for her son. Maybe people will find Harry too perfect, but he's the perfect hero to launch a family saga. There are so many wonderful characters, as well as the appropriate villain. Archer is a master at creating characters.

Two years ago, when I reviewed Roses by Leila Meacham, I wondered if it was time for family sagas to become popular again. Jeffrey Archer is starting a new series with a cliffhanger, the first book in The Clifton Chronicles. Can he bring back the genre he helped to popularize? Only Time Will Tell.

Jeffrey Archer's website is

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer. St. Martin's Press. ©2011. ISBN 9780312539559 (hardcover), 400p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Liz V. said...

Had forgotten about Kane and Abel. Time to revisit Archer.

Lesa said...

It is time to revisit Archer, Liz, with this book. He's on top of his game again.

Carol M said...

I read Kane and Abel many years ago and I just found Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less in my TBR pile. It's time for me to start reading his books again, too!

Kaye said...

Kane and Abel would have been a much better story if there were not so many mistakes in the plot. Glad you enjoyed this one. If you like multi generational stories, you might like Penny Vincenzi's saga starting with No Angel. 2000 pages spread over 3 books and I couldn't put them down.

Lesa said...

Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less was my husband's favorite book, Carol. I hope you enjoy it.

Lesa said...

I don't know, Kaye. I have a hard time with books that big. I keep thinking I could be reading two or three other books in the same time. As much as I like to read, I still wish mysteries were only 192 pages each. I always have multiple books going at one time until one book becomes so good I can't put it down. Honestly? It doesn't happen as often as I'd like.

Pamela Keener said...

I am actually listening to Roses on my ipod now and am truly enjoying this book. I almost cannot wait to get in the car and listen to the rest of the story.
I, of course, have heard of Mr. Archer but never read him I will have to check this out.
Thanks for the intro.
Love & Hugs,

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Pam. I'm glad you're enjoying Roses. My mother & all her friends loved that book. I hope you like Archer's books.

Hugs back!

Carol M said...

I read Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less and really enjoyed it! I can understand why it was your husband's favorite book! I think it is a story that would make a great movie! lol I'm definitely going to look for more of Jeffrey Archer's books!

Rahul said...

A very nice book with extra-ordinary plot and story. You can not leave it once started. A touching and mind blowing reading experience from beginning to end. The characters are so lively that you can get easily lost with them through the lanes of Bristol. An unforgettable journey with little Harry Clifton to his mysterious course of life!