Only Time Will Tell” is the opening volume in a new series from Jeffrey Archer. It covers the life of Harry Clifton, an English boy whose life starts...moreOnly Time Will Tell” is the opening volume in a new series from Jeffrey Archer. It covers the life of Harry Clifton, an English boy whose life starts out rather simply and then follows as he goes on to more interesting things.
The plot starts when we take up Harry’s life starting around six, when he escapes the mundane life by getting a scholarship to a boarding school. The first half of the book takes full advantage of pretty much every cliche you’ve ever heard about English boarding schools — outgrown clothes, family sacrifice to buy required attire, sadistic prefects, social snobbery, cruel mockery, best friends acquired instantly, caning, critically important exams, crime blamed on the wrong party, nobility of character leading to brink of disaster, wise advice from a odd old man...
The pace picks up as the story progresses. Harry’s mother struggles to find employment, becomes a tea-shop waitress, finally buys a tea shop (which then burns to the ground) and then resorts to prostitution... all to keep her boy in school. Harry finds love (but discovers they cannot be together), and prepares himself as his beloved Britain prepares for war once again.
Although it is pretty clear that Archer has a good understanding of the class culture and attitudes of Britain between the two wars, this is not the type of historical fiction that will immerse readers in the times. Rather we only get brief glimpses of clothes, movies, cars and food, as they are woven into a well-constructed plot.
The writing is slick, clear, smooth, drawing the reader along from page to page, but the thing driving this story is the plot. Archer knows how to dole out crumbs of suspense right up to the last page, which ends with an excellent cliffhanger, clearly meant to push the reader into purchasing Volume 2.
This is a review of an ARC received in a First-Reads giveaway.(less)
I enjoyed this very much. I've found myself drawn more and more to history and historical fiction and Steve Anderson did a great job with both in The...moreI enjoyed this very much. I've found myself drawn more and more to history and historical fiction and Steve Anderson did a great job with both in The Losing Role. His attention to detail in the locations and events surrounding the storyline are much appreciated, yet those details are used to bring life to the story rather than merely rehashed trivia.
It is also refreshing to see a portrayal of a German soldier as something other a buffoon or a soldier mindlessly following in Hitler's quest for world domination. Max is simply a German actor who gets drafted into service during wartime, yet all he wants to do is to entertain his audience, wherever that may be.
The Losing Role is an excellent story that you don't have to be a history buff to enjoy.
A very well told story of a pair of immigrants who escape their old life in Europe to begin a new life in America. The story is told by James, their g...moreA very well told story of a pair of immigrants who escape their old life in Europe to begin a new life in America. The story is told by James, their grandson as he himself reaches the golden years of his life. The story follows three generations in a small Missouri town, each with its own struggles and highlights. The timeline runs through many of the significant events of our nations history and Alex George does an excellent job telling how those events affected our nation and the people who lived though those times.
I especially enjoyed the way the story is narrated by James as he is looks back at his family's story. It is as if I'm sitting down with my uncle or grandfather and listening them tell about the family while looking through a box pictures and clippings that have been gathered over the years. Like any family, there are some wonderful times and some tough times and some significant tragedies. He also learns that there are some dark secrets in his family and that his own life story may not be all that he thought it was.
My one criticism of the book is that there are a couple places where the language gets rather coarse. Now, I'm not a prude, so it isn't the language itself that bothers me, but the problem I have is that it doesn't fit with the way the rest of the story is told. There are some very difficult subjects tackled in the story and they are told with a grace and gentleness that is a joy to read. Then there are a couple of places where the language simply clashes and it stood out rather obviously to me. I have a feeling that if the rest of the story wasn't done so well done that I wouldn't have even noticed the places that didn't fit.
I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, or simply a story well told.