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Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles) Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 30, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 3,318 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Clifton Chronicles Series

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, August 30, 2011
$13.33 $0.93

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Only Time Will Tell

“Archer delivers another page-turning, heart-stopping saga, with delightful twists, and a surprise ending… readers will surely wait for the next with bated breath.”
---Publishers Weekly

“General readers as well as Archer fans will enjoy this unforgettable tale, which abounds with cliff-hangers that propel its intriguing and intricate plot.”
---Library Journal (starred review)

“What appears at the outset to be a straightforward coming-of-age tale becomes, by the end, a saga of power, betrayal, and bitter hatred. The novel ends on a deliberately dark note, setting the stage for the sequel…An outstanding effort from a reliable veteran.”
---Booklist (starred Review)

“I was utterly hooked. It was an absurdly enjoyable read.”
---Anthony Horowitz, Daily Telegraph (London)

Praise for Jeffrey Archer

“A dynamite commercial novel…Archer brings it off with panache.”
---The Washington Post on A Prisoner of Birth

“A compelling read…The pace never flags.”
---Newsday (New York) on A Prisoner of Birth

“One of the top ten storytellers in the world.”
---Los Angeles Times

“Archer is a master entertainer.”
---Time magazine

“A storyteller in the class of Alexandre Dumas.”
---The Washington Post on A Twist in the Tale

“There isn’t a better storyteller alive.”
---Larry King

Kane and Abel…that classic of modern literature.”
---The Times (London)

From the Back Cover

The first novel in the Clifton Chronicles, an ambitious new series that tells the story of a family across generations and oceans, from heartbreak to triumph, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jeffrey Archer

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...

"If there were a nobel prize for storytelling, Archer would win."Daily Telegraph (London)

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.

"Archer is a master entertainer."Time

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Clifton Chronicles (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031253955X
  • ASIN: B0076TL1YC
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,318 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love to read a good family saga. I used to eagerly read Susan Howatch before moving on to Edward Rutherford and the "Forsyte Saga". I love watching a family evolve through the years. This book has the earmarks of a great series.
The story revolves around the Cliftons, a lower class family of dock workers who have a son of exceptional talents, and the Barringtons, a wealthy family whose children seem remarkably decent and grounded. Harry Clifton, the son, has an outstanding voice that offers him a way to better himself through a scholarship to a fine school. Even with his talent, it takes a village to give him the tools to win the scholarship. The book tells the story from various character viewpoints so you can see the help given to young Clifton.
I was so surprised to read the reviews talking about it being the first book in a series like it was a big deal. There are so many series out there that it shouldn't come as such a shock. Lee Child has his Reacher, Bernard Cornwell has his Uhtred and Diana Gabaldon has Jamie and Claire. If you don't like waiting for the next book then wait until the entire series is out. Otherwise just relax and enjoy yourself.
Jeffrey Archer is a skilled story teller. The story moves right along and it is hard to put down. He's like John Grisham- not the most skilled writer but a great story teller. I read this at a fast rate and enoyed every moment of it. I found it to be a fun read.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I picked this book up on a recent trip, during a connection through London, where it's already published. (I don't really have the Kindle edition, I have a softcover, but Amazon doesn't allow reviews for any edition except Kindle as I write this.)

I've read so much fiction in my life that only pretty good writing will hold my interest. This is high quality writing with quite good characterization.

The viewpoint of the story switches among the main characters. Each section for a character starts off with a first-person narrative, and then switches to a traditional third-person narrative for that character.

This results in overlap. It's common to see the same timeline covered from multiple viewpoints. That's tricky writing to pull off, but Archer is a pro, so he does it pretty well.

The era is early twentieth century, between the World Wars and leading up to World War II. It's clear that WWII will play a big part in the entire story, and in fact it begins just as this book ends.

The protagonist is from a lower class family, and the early part of the book covers his attempts to rise via his education.

The plot is fairly predictable. There are a few twists that I didn't see, but the broad outline became clear early on. I was still engaged enough with the characters to want to see the story through.

And that leads to the biggest criticism: as other reviewers have noted, this is just the beginning of a series. The end of the book leaves all of the major plot elements unresolved. So if you like your fiction to contain a story wrapped up neatly in a bow at the end, you probably ought to avoid this one until the story is all published. However, if you can let the unresolved elements sit for a while until the rest is published, then this would be a fine summer reading choice.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Remember decades ago when Jeffrey Archer used to write those fantastic epics? Kane & Able, As the Crow Flies; that's what I'm talking about! Here's the good news: His latest novel, Only Time Will Tell harkens back to his glory days. It's the most entertaining thing he's written in years, in my humble opinion. Here's the bad news: What once would have been a juicy epic tale has fallen victim to the publishing industry's current trend of trilogizing. (New word. I coined it.)

Except, except, this is NOT a trilogy--this is, in fact, the first of the FIVE planned novels that will comprise The Clifton Chronicles. And as entertaining as the book is, and I'll get back to that in a moment, this is very annoying. Back in the day, you write an epic, it's 600 or 800 or even 1,000 pages. James Michener did it. James Clavell did it. And, yes, Jeffrey Archer did it. But in the very recent past, some marketing genius realized that you could get readers to pay a lot more for a long book by chopping it into pieces. Maybe pad the text a little, and leave some white space on the pages. What once might have been an 800-page novel is now three 300-page novels. It is the era of the trilogy. And writers don't even have to worry about writing in story arcs to end each segment. No, just end them wherever--or even better, end on cliff-hanger! And don't warn readers that they're only getting a very incomplete portion of the story they signed on to read! And make them wait years to get to the conclusion!

Sorry, was I ranting? It's true that Mr. Archer (Sir Jeffrey?) and his publishers are guilty of most of my complaints above. For instance, this novel ends very abruptly, with no sort of resolution at all, on a cliff-hanger. So, yes, this new trend is really bugging me.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book by bestselling author Jeffrey Archer is excellent. The story grips readers who become emotionally involved with its characters. This is volume one of The Clifton Chronicles. When readers finish it, they will look forward with eagerness to see what happens to Harry Clifton.

The opening chapters of the adventure, in the 1920s and 1930s, tells the same events from the perspectives of several different people, each adding or changing what had been told before, and thereby deepening the understanding of the events and the people involved. This style had been used effectively before by William Faulkner in The Sound and the Fury - who people call "the greatest author the US South produced" - and by the editors of the four New Testament Gospels, where each Gospel writer revisits what the others told, with changes, deepening the readers' interest and understanding.

The story hangs on the mystery of Harry Clifton's parentage: who was his father? This mystery, in turn, creates others. What difference does it make who Harry's father is? What happened to Harry's mother's husband? Why do people keep her husband's whereabouts secret? If the mystery of Harry's parentage is not resolved, will it destroy his life?

We read about the extraordinary sacrifices of Harry's mother. She is poor. She is determined that Harry will get schooling, even though she lacks money to pay for the schooling, and even though someone is repeatedly sabotaging her efforts. We read about the very rich Barrington family, the grandfather who is a paragon of goodness, his son Hugo who is clearly evil, and his grandchildren Giles and Emma, and the strong positive emotional feelings that the two have toward Harry.
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