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Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles #1)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  24,881 ratings  ·  2,736 reviews

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 w

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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I haven't read Jeffrey Archer for years, and now I wonder why. This new series featuring Harry Clifton, son of a dockworker (or is he the son of an upper crust owner of a huge shipping line?), and his climb through the British public school system is going to be a delight if this first one of five is any indication. Make no mistake, this is not a Pulitzer, but it is good, solid storytelling, with bold characters, a world wide setting, and a story that has enough twists, turns, and sneaky heart-s ...more
Sometimes you read a book everyone else seems to loveLoveLOVE and then wonder if you bought the same book everyone else did because as far as you're concerned, it stank. For me, that would be this book.
The author goes to great lengths to convince us that yes, the Main Character is indeed a brilliant child/man with unseen depths and superb intellect. We must believe this because of the great lengths other characters go to ensure that the Main Character has the means to build on his future, and th
Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles) by Jeffrey Archer was an enjoyable book.

I listened to this book and the narrator was really good and very well suited to the story.

I really enjoy family sagas and this was no exception with its well formed characters, a flowing and twisting tale and a little social history to keep the reader entertained.

This book reminded me a little of Downton Abbey and I think readers who enjoyed that series will really enjoy the clifton Chronicles.

I was a little di
What a fantastic book. Not just in plot, but in nuance too. This was the first book I read by Jeffrey Archer, but I have every intention of reading many more after this one.

This book is set up so that each section is from one person's perspective. Harry, Maisie, Jack Tar, Hugo, Giles and Emma all get a section. (Harry gets the first and last section. Maisie gets an extra few pages in the prologue.) Sounds like a common set up, but here is where it gets really interesting: each section starts wi
This saga is the first in what is to be at least a three-book set (quite possibly more) entitled the Clifton Chronicles, centered around the character Harry Clifton. Relatively plotless, the story was however so engaging it was difficult to put down, with the interesting technique of revealing the tale little by little from different character's points of view. We hear from Harry's mother Maisie, his best friend Giles, Gile's sister Emma, Gile's father Hugo, Harry's friend "Old Jack", and from H ...more
It is very frustrating to assign stars on GR. Seems to me that "It's ok" should be smack in the middle followed by "I liked it" and "I loved it." This book was OK. Average. Predictable but entertaining beach read or exercise, driving story. I listented to it and it made my 3 miles on the treadmill bearable and that is what I want in an audiobook. It was well written because Archer is incapable of writing poorly. My major beef is that we get to the end AND IT JUST STOPS. I realize that there are ...more
I read this on my husband 's recommendation. He really enjoyed it and went on to read the next in the series. I liked it but not as much. I was not comfortable with the way the wedding was handled and thought the whole thing was melodramatic. I also found the way so many miscellaneous adults were working behind the scenes to make sure the young Harry achieved his destiny was unrealistic and overdone. On the other hand the book was well written, some of the characters we're very well done and I f ...more

This book now has a spot in my top 100 reads of all time. Going into this I didn't think that I would like it. It was so different from what I usually read. However I am very glad that I went ahead and read this! I loved this book so much. It is so dear to my heart. I honestly have no complaints about this book. That may seem hard to believe but it's true.

Every character was well thought out and interesting. They each held their own in their chapters and I actually liked them all equally(apart f
Having retired to years ago, I took up reading, and have averaged one novel a week. The authors I enjoy include Vince Flynn, Lee Child, John Grisham, David Baldacci, Brad Thor, Daniel Silva, Nelson DeMille, Alex Berenwon,Steve Martini, Joel Rosenberg, and Robert Ludlum. In December 2012, I read my first Jeffrey Archer novel and am now hooked. He is the best story teller I have read in the past two years. I loved Honor Among Thieves, Sons of Fortune, and Prisoner of Birth. However, his new trilog ...more
Maya Khan
I thought it was one of those books which you'd want to look in the eyes and say "seriously?" until I learned that it was a part of a trilogy, Archer is a great writer, I love his effortless flow, diction and that unique style. But I found none of those in this book. It was gripping nevertheless yet it lacked a smooth flow through the plot.

There were some instances which i felt were outright silly eg the one where old jack waits until harry's wedding day to reveal the truth and call off the wed
First, the good things about this book: It makes for a good read as it keeps you hooked throughout, with a cliff hanging suspense at the end of every chapter. I think I finished it in record time, considering I am a slow reader.

But seriously? It felt like I was reading a soap opera.

It was outright pushy and juvenile in its style of writing as the author tries so hard, rather too hard, to prove how the main character is exceptionally brilliant, a child prodigy and how the entire town of Bristol
Weston Kincade
I must say that much of this story reminded me of Great Expectations by Dickens; however, this was not because Archer writes in any way as lengthy and detailed as Dickens. Archer's story was quite detailed, painting the story in your mind so as to bring Harry and his friends to life. Even the villains are so human that their known lies are reasonable and make you second guess whether they might be such horrible people. But, the honorable Old Jack and other participants in Harry's life leave no d ...more
“Some people stand by you in your darkest hour, while others walk away; only a select few march toward you and become even closer friends.”

“Only Time Will Tell” – to say I enjoyed reading this first book in the Clifton Chronicles would be an understatement. Jeffrey Archer is a master storyteller: Clean, captivating writing; clever interwoven plot(s); and well-developed characters of great distinction. Whether loved or despised, I was fully entranced by, and invested in each character’s history,
Dale Harcombe
This was my first Jeffrey Archer novel and I won it as a First Reads Giveaway. I enjoyed the story of Harry Clifton, his mother Maisie and the Barrington family. The story is told from several viewpoints from Harry Clifton, Maisie Clifton, Hugo Barrington (who is an utter mongrel), Harry’s friend Old Jack Tar, Giles and Emma Barrington (children of Hugo) before reverting back to Harry at the end. Telling the story from several points of view like this, means that at times the details overlap. Us ...more
Harry Clifton thought the world of his mother, Maisie – he knew she struggled as a single mother. His father had been killed in the Great War he had been told, and he and his mother lived together in a small house in Bristol with his Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Stan. His Uncle Stan worked down at the docks and Harry would wag school on a daily basis to go to the shipyard and watch the shipping and all the activities that went on there. He wanted to work there too when he was old enough.

But Maisi
Jeffrey Archer at his finest. We return to the Archer I know and love, with a tale that (I hear at the end of the book) is the first of a five book saga, spanning generations. The book reminded me a little of Follett's idea for his Century series, or even Rutherfurd's usually multi-generational series (is the the UKers who have mastered this art?) but there are dramatic differences.

As Archer mentions in the post-book interview (for us audiobook addicts), the story is basically 7 narrators tellin
Lewis Weinstein
Archer has the great gift of being able to write very complex stories - with many characters, changing points of view, important historical background, and repeated surprises - and keep the whole thing under his total control. I felt complete confidence that Archer had command of the story at every stage, right up until the last of many shocking events, which of course sets the stage for the next book in this family saga. This is a fairly long book which I nevertheless read straight through on a ...more
Judi/Judith Riddle
Be prepared… when you open this novel you will want to continue reading until your eyes blur and you will lose sleep while reading late into the night or you may find yourself wide awake thinking about turning the light on to read one more chapter. Don’t be fooled. Reading one chapter at a time is not possible with this first novel of The Clifton Chronicles. Jeffrey Archer introduces you to the Barringtons, an upper-class family and the Cliftons, a family of dock workers. You will get to know th ...more
Jeffrey Archer is a master story-teller, he has proved it time and again(barring his Prison diaries, of course). Keeping with that the book starts and you are hooked!
Having said that, I have a few observations to make.
When an author publishes the first book if he has already planned it will be a series (or do the authors always decide it that way? Who knows! I am just a reader!), is that likely to have an impact on the book/books till you come to an end! However he has written a trilogy already,
Bijith MB
This novel belongs to the master craftsman Jeffry Archer. Every chapter, every sentence screams his style. His proven skill in handling vast plot and story spread in long time frame is at peak in this. Though the story spread through around 100 years, not even a single page of it was boring. The gripping narrative makes it a real non-put-down-able book.

The style of writing is fresh. Every book starts with the diary of a character, and then moves ahead with his / her life and blends with the inci
Leanne Hunt
Contrary to expectation, I found this book disappointing. I was hoping for a fast-paced story with an intricate plot, and instead had to plough through the same events repeated several times over for three-quarters of the novel. Admittedly, the author's style is easy to read and his characters well-developed. Yet the overall impression was of going over the same ground again and again, like a detective searching for clues. Evidently it mattered hugely whether Harry was Hugo Barrington's son or n ...more
I'm a big fan of sweeping, multi-generational, decade-spanning novels. I love learning about the life and loves of a particular character and those people that mean the most to him. Jeffery Archer is one of the authors that made me love this genre. And he has certainly done it again with Only Time Will Tell.

Only Time Will Tell is the story of Harry Clifton. Clifton comes from a very modest home and humble beginnings. All along, people around him can tell that there's something special about
A page-turner throughout but one with a plot that is marred by far too many loopholes unconvincingly plugged. Early indications of this being a sprawling epic saga a la "Kane and Abel" left me a bit disappointed with the overall outcome but an unexpected twist in the end ensures I have been left with no choice but to read "Sins of the Father", the second instalment of the Clifton Chronicles.

3 to 3.5 stars.
Surprisingly good. A new author to add to my list of favorites.

This book was really good. It wasn't at all what I expected, which is good. If I'd known it would be so good I surely would have read it sooner. Solid writing. Great storytelling. I am most definitely now a Jeffrey Archer fan.

The Clifton's and the Barrington's are two families from Bristol, England that couldn't be more different. Yet the families are connected eternally by two events, one tragic, one fleeting that forever shape an
Notes: I won this one in the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

"Some people standby you in your darkest hour while others walk away; only a select few march towards you and become even closer friends."

Harry Clifton may not have much, but in some ways he's rich. He has great friends and a loving mom. This is the story of his life, from start to what I'm guessing will eventually be his end. You can't help but fall in love with Harry. He's smart, kind, and almost everyone who meets him likes him insta
Vinit Nair
A pentalogy is certainly a first for Jeffrey Archer but it is not going to disappoint the fans. I am going to write a really short review here avoiding all the spoilers because I know many people have not yet read this book. Only Time Will Tell is a first part of the five in Clifton Chronicles. It is said to be the most ambitious project by Mr. Archer revolving around the life of Harry Clifton and his adventures between 1920 and 2020. In the first book the story goes till the second world war. ( ...more
This is the first I've read of Jeffrey Archer--have looked several times at "Kane & Abel," but never got into it. This book absolutely grabbed me. I listened to the audio version and it was very well done. The characters are so believable. I thought the technique Archer uses whereby he has several characters tell the events from their unique perspective was interesting. Rather than hearing what each one is thinking at the same time, you focus on each character. And often we learn something a ...more
This was a very good book and I'm excited about the next book of this series. If you like Jeffrey Archer, then you will like this book and series.
Jeffrey Archer has mixed family drama, intrigue and history once again as the Clifton Chronicles weighs anchor.Harry Clifton, wrong side of the tracks kid in the 1920's-1930's,his life filled with unexpected opportunities and challenges.
Believing he will leave school and work the docks as his uncle and deceased father have, he instead finds himself in a tony boarding school on a scholarship.Weathering the inevitable emotional bumps and bruises that come with being the awkward newcomer,he deter
Another wonderful masterpiece from the master story teller. After having read several other books this month, each from a different genre, I realised it was time for a good old fashioned fiction by my favourite author. When picking up this book to read, I had doubts in my mind, especially after not enjoying some of his latest books However, I need not have worried as the master is back and back with a bang with this series.

The first book of the series titled, The Clifton Chronicles, this book an
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Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician.

He was a Member of Parliament and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His political career, having suffered several controversies, ended after a conviction for perverting the course of justice and his subsequent imprisonment. He is married
More about Jeffrey Archer...

Other Books in the Series

The Clifton Chronicles (5 books)
  • The Sins of the Father (The Clifton Chronicles, #2)
  • Best Kept Secret (The Clifton Chronicles, #3)
  • Be Careful What You Wish For (The Clifton Chronicles #4)
  • Mightier Than the Sword (The Clifton Chronicles, #5)
Kane and Abel (Kane and Abel, #1) Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less The Prodigal Daughter (Kane & Abel, #2) A Prisoner of Birth The Sins of the Father (The Clifton Chronicles, #2)

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“Some people standby you in your darkest hour while others walk away; only a select few march towards you and become even closer friends.” 168 likes
“If you make a deal with a fool, don't be surprised when they act foolishly.” 43 likes
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