Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles, #1)” as Want to Read:
Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Only Time Will Tell

(The Clifton Chronicles #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  74,076 ratings  ·  5,604 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 doc
...more
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by St Martins Pr (first published May 12th 2011)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Only Time Will Tell, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sheryl I used the library to read this entire series and couldn’t wait for the next book to become available. This series is among my most favorite reads! I …moreI used the library to read this entire series and couldn’t wait for the next book to become available. This series is among my most favorite reads! I think I have loved everything I’ve read by Jeffrey Archer.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Tharindu Vishwanath
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  74,076 ratings  ·  5,604 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles, #1)
Tina
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
RJ
Oct 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
...more
daph pink
1.25 ✨

Personal note :- Read synopsis before buying a book , no matter what just read the synopsis and save money

Yeah so moving on , I feel cheated after I read this critically acclaimed book by Jeffrey Archer ( which not to forget is his best book ) and I happen to not like it , and I am wondering did I read the same book as everyone ?

I am sorry peeps , if you loved this book , excuse me you may not be able to bear it !

What I didn't like? ( pretty much everything)

1. STORY LINE / PLOT

✏ *T
...more
Ujjawal Sureka
Series: Clifton Chronicles #1
Genre: Historical fiction
Publication Date: March 2011

-Deeply engaging storyline. The plot is very intense, keeps us on the edge.
- Jeffery Archer sure knows how to play with cliffhangers and plot twists, he is very smooth and canny with them.
- Loved the characters and the emotions they conveyed.
- Separate chapters for different characters gave us many perspectives of an ealier event which enriched the feel of what was really happening.
Helene Jeppesen
Jan 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Apparently, this is a bestseller - a book that loads of people around the world have devoured. And I get why that is because it is a pretty straight-forward, easily read story about several families, several destinies and several points of view that entwine. Especially the beginning of this historical family saga had me intrigued because it tells enchantingly about these three boys and their struggles on a boarding school.
However, as my reading progressed the story became more and more redundan
...more
Shruti
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Frances
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A heart warming story set back in the early 1900’s which follows a young lad named Harry Clifton as he faces the many obstacles throughout his life’s journey to manhood. There are also several strong characters in this book with chapters devoted to their own narration. It was an enjoyable tale and hard to put down. Also recommended is Jeffrey Archer’s classic novel ‘Kane & Abel’ an extraordinary book not to be missed.
...more
~
I cannot believe that I'm saying this but wow, I loved this Jeffrey Archer book! I received this book as a present around three or so years ago, and it has been sitting in my bookcase, possibly gathering a bit of dust, ever since. You see, I never would have picked up this book normally, as for me, the plot came across as being a bit samey, and frankly, I thought it was going to be dull. Oh hell, I hate it when I'm wrong!

Shall I put Jeffrey Archer in my guilty pleasures pile? I think it might be
...more
Dem
Jul 29, 2014 rated it liked it
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
...more
Wanda
May 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Matt
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Jeffrey Archer at his finest, beginning a heptalogy sure to entertain throughout. Harry Clifton comes from a poor family, where every benefit is earned and each hardship a hurdle. When he meets Giles Barrington he soon forges a life-long friendship, even if they come from different social circles. Clifton forges ahead to make a name for himself, while living under the shadow of never having met his father. While Clifton presumes Arthur Clifton died on the battlefields, the truth is known to a se ...more
Kerri
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book, but it has ended up being one of my favourite reads this year (and I must admit I've had a pretty good run of mostly four and five star reads in 2018). It's the first of seven books, the opening of what promises to be a sweeping story following two families over 100 years. From page one I was completely caught up in this story, following an incredible cast of characters for just over 20 years in this first volume.
Harry Clifton is wonderful, an
...more
Abram
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Rating: 4.4/5

I never imagined that Only Time Will Tell would be this good. Jeffrey Archer have wrote a thought through story which has a great story and great characters. The writing and prose is simple and precise. The dialogue is extraordinary. I loved all the characters in the novel. I didn't hate even a single one. My most favorite would be Old Jack. I just fricking love that character. I loved the setting and the phase more than anything. I couldn't even put the book down. The twists and
...more
W
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: archer
Only Time will Tell is the first part of the seven volume Clifton Chronicles series. It is a lengthy,sprawling saga which is a fairly mixed bag.

It spans twenty years,from World War I to the start of World War II. War is a familiar theme in Archer's work,as he himself was a child of World War II.

Harry Clifton was told that his father was killed in World War I.But later discovers there is more to the story. Could he be the son of someone else,not as poor as he himself was ?

The story again has lot
...more
Jerry B
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Phrynne
Dec 25, 2014 rated it liked it
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
✨Susan✨
I loved Harry's story of love, loyalty, strife, friendship and his persistence for excellence. Jeffrey Archer hits it out of the park with this epic tale of a young boy trying, with the help of his friends and family, to make his life something no less than extraordinary. What an excellent beginning to a wonderful adventure. I am definitely going to start immediately with book two that covers Harry's young adult life. The narratives by both, Roger Allam and Emilia Fox were spot on and helped to ...more
Chrissie
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
First of all, let me state clearly that two stars means I think this book is OK! Whether you should read it or not ought to depend upon your mood and what you are looking for. It is not poorly written and will satisfy those readers who love series, love adventure stories, love plot-oriented books and love solving a puzzle. What kind of a puzzle? You know in fact very early on who the central character's father is, but what keeps you reading is to discover how the author is going to weave togethe ...more
Anne
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have a particular friend who all he talks about when it comes to talking about books, is Jeffery Archer's Clifton Chronicles.

His hype over this book was well-founded. I loved this book more than I could say, but let me try, lol!

Jeffrey Archer's characters are soooo vivid, sooo intriguing, who I can envision so clearly, can empathize with so easily!

As for the actual story, I found it invigorating, captivating, and, of course, a total page-turner. The surprising thing is that despite how fluid t
...more
Pamela
“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,
...more
Lori
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this. Archer did such a great job in setting up a solid story while creating memorable characters. So excited to get to the rest in this series... one benefit to waiting so long to start this series is not having to wait for the next book. Happy dance!
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
In "Only Time Will Tell," Harry Clifton believes that he will end up working at the docks like his father, whom he never met, and his uncle. When his singing talents allow him to land a scholarship to a super fancy school, his fate will change. Filled with family secrets and stories of the different ways life can take us, this book was the great kick off to what promises to be an exciting series!

I love characters that you can root for! Harry is the definitive underdog character. He is being rais
...more
Cherie
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 1 of 7 in The Clifton Chronicles series. This is a historical fiction, or maybe even a family drama saga, based in the 1920s to 1940s time frame in England. It is all about a little boy Harry Clifton, who is from a poor family. His father (a dock worker) is killed under mysterious circumstances at work, and his mother struggles to take care of the family, but she is a hard working and determined woman, and she wants Harry to have a better future than to be a dock worker like his father. Har ...more
Wayne
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Having retired two 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 Berenson,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 trilo ...more
Lewis Weinstein
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Rohit Enghakat
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
As usual, the master story teller weaves a beautiful story about the lives of two boys, Harry Clifton and Giles Barrington who become fast friends in school. The book is about two families, Cliftons and Barringtons who live at the two extremes of the social strata. All the characters in the book are interesting, especially the soldier Jack Tarrant, who takes charge of Harry Clifton's life guiding him and playing his mentor. This is a story of friendship, sacrifice and love.

Need to pick up the 2n
...more
Ted
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved the story, the characters, the writing. Everything about this book made for top-notch entertainment for me. However . . . that ending.

Remember back in the days of VCRs and you set the timer to record a movie while you were at work, or otherwise unable to watch live, and when you played it back, it ran out of tape just before the end of the movie, when it has reached a climax but not a resolution? Yep, that's how this book is. I think it's a cheap shot, meant only to coerce ransom from me,
...more
Ingrid
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable read!
Anupriya
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Dana
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing

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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Mightier than the Sword: by Jeffrey Archer (The Clifton Chronicles Series, Book 5) | Summary & Analysis
  • ‫خطايا الأب - الجزء الثاني‬
  • Jeffrey Archer: Stranger than Fiction
  • Not So Shoujo Love Story
  • D. Manuel I -  Duas irmãs para um rei
  • The Remarried Empress
  • Jane and Julio
  • Series Order: Jeffrey Archer: Clifton Chronicles in Order: Kane and Abel Series
  • Oxygen ออกซิเจน
  • Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, #1)
  • If Tomorrow Comes (Tracy Whitney, #1)
  • A Noite em que o Verão Acabou
  • Guerreiros da Tempestade
  • Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy #2)
  • The Immortals of Meluha (Shiva Trilogy, #1)
  • The Secret of the Nagas (Shiva Trilogy #2)
  • The Oath of the Vayuputras (Shiva Trilogy, #3)
  • Heartstopper: Volume 5 (Heartstopper, #5)
See similar books…
8,667 followers
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

Other books in the series

The Clifton Chronicles (7 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)
  • Cometh the Hour (The Clifton Chronicles, #6)
  • This Was a Man (The Clifton Chronicles, #7)

Related Articles

As this strange summer of staying put winds down, one thing remains truer than ever: Books offer us endless adventure and new horizons to...
53 likes · 30 comments
“Some people standby you in your darkest hour while others walk away; only a select few march towards you and become even closer friends.” 275 likes
“If you make a deal with a fool, don't be surprised when they act foolishly.” 75 likes
More quotes…