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Publisher's Summary

From the internationally best-selling 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 worker in Bristol, Harry never knew his father, but he learns about life on the docks from his uncle, who expects Harry to join him at the shipyard once he's left school. But then an unexpected gift wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys' school, and his life is never the same.

As he enters into adulthood, Harry finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth only leads him to a question: was he even his father? Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore who spent his whole life on the docks, or the firstborn son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line?

This introductory novel in Archer’s ambitious series The Clifton Chronicles includes a cast of colorful characters and takes us from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry must decide whether to take up a place at Oxford or join the navy and go to war with Hitler’s Germany.

From the docks of working-class England to the bustling streets of 1940 New York City, Only Time Will Tell takes listeners on a journey through to future volumes, which will bring to life 100 years of recent history to reveal a family story that neither the listener nor Harry Clifton himself could ever have imagined.

©2011 Jeffrey Archer (P)2011 Macmillan Audio

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  • cristina
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 10-21-11

Typical Archer

If you're looking for real literature, this is not it. If you're looking for a guiltily entertaining book, go for it. This is typical Archer. In fact, some people might find it too typical -- a repeat of Kane and Abel, for example. While that might indeed be true, I read Kane and Abel a million years ago so getting to read a variation of it now was a ton of fun. Sometimes, it's just nice to read something light where the good guys are the good guys and the bad guys are the bad guys.I look forward to the next installment.

31 of 31 people found this review helpful

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Standard Archer "class-clash". Stellar narration!!

Would you consider the audio edition of Only Time Will Tell to be better than the print version?

I have listened to all of Jeffrey Archer's work. This is standard class-clash Archer plotline with superb character development. I already feel like I grew up with these characters, and can't wait for the next "installment". By the way, the story is told from 1st and 3rd-person viewpoints, and from 7 separate "angles". I bow to Mr. Archer who can weave a complex story like no other (read A Prisoner of Birth and you'll agree). Incomparable two-person narration lends further authenticity to the characters. Since Mr. Archer plans 5 parts, covering 100 years, each part taking 1 year to produce, this series isn't for the faint of heart; however, die-hard Archer fans will settle in and eagerly anticipate the inevitable come-uppance that awaits the already much-hated Mr. Hugo. In the next book, I would expect a few more Archer "soap opera twists" to get us to thoroughly despise him...

What other book might you compare Only Time Will Tell to and why?

Cane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. Class-clash plotline, intricate character development, detailed research, and soap opera-style twists that build utter contempt for the villainous antagonist.

What does Roger Allam, and Emelia Fox bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

Evocative narration. Mastery of British / Irish (UK) dialects. Male / female narration lends further credibility to the various characters.

Who was the most memorable character of Only Time Will Tell and why?

Too difficult to select only one. Each character has already been fully formed by Mr. Archer, evoking myriad emotions from the reader, including empathy, sympathy, pity, incredulity, and seething anger.

Any additional comments?

I eagerly anticipate the next book!

61 of 63 people found this review helpful

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  • Buzz
  • Scottsdale, AZ, United States
  • 11-13-12

From the Master of the Novel as Soap Opera

Some days all I really want is for someone to tell me a wicked-good story, and when that mood strikes me, there is no better author to turn to than Jeffrey Archer. His books are simple, fast-moving, thoughtless, and well-constructed, while his characters are either very good or very bad, and almost believable. Archer’s major ability is to grab the reader quickly and never let go, and to somehow make the reader care about what happens in the lives of the characters, in short, to make the reader want to know how it turns out. After quickly finishing Only Time Will tell, the first book in Archer’s projected series, The Clifton Chronicles, I immediately picked up and finished the second book, The Sins of the Father. No doubt about it: I’ll buy each succeeding book as it is published.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Ted
  • Lancaster, PA, United States
  • 10-15-15

Accidental Discovery

After giving Jeffery Archer's "A Prisoner of Birth" ten stars I wanted more Archer. So I stupidly bought "Mightier Than The Sword:. MISTAKE! Stupidly? Uh-huh, it was the fifth book in the "The Clinton Chronicles" and while it was intriguing from chapter one, it was quickly obvious that I'd come in the middle of this saga. So... I've stopped that book and downloaded "Only Time Will Tell" the first i this Epic. Whew... great relief.

YOU MUST START WITH THIS BOOK! Which is an intriguing story that sets the character foundation for the entire series. Archer's cast is well defined and Roger Allam together with Emilia Fox make them live.

Do I recommend "Only Time Will Tell"? Well facing an eleven hour drive tomorrow, I've j just downloaded "The Sins Of The Fathers"... Number 2 in "The Clifton Chronicles". That's as good a recommendation that's in me.

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

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Slow to start, but overall a terrific book!!

This book starts off painfully slow. There seems to be nothing eventful or entertaining for the first 4 to 6 hours; BUT, hang in there.

This book reminds me of a Ken Follett novel in a lot of ways - which is a good thing as I am a big fan of Follet. There is good character development and if you keep in mind that Archer intends to make this a five book series, I think you'll find it acceptable he takes so long to develop the characters - of course if long and involved is not your style, you'll probably want to skip this one.

Overall, I am getting the feeling this may end up being one of my favorite series of novels. I have listened to Archer novels before and have liked them all so far.

With respect to narration, I'm not a big fan of multiple readers, and if I judge the end product, I don't think Emelia Fox added any value to the production by reading the lead female character; however, she was not a distraction. They both delivered a fine performance - Roger Allam is especially good.

I highly recommended this one, it has the potential to be a great series of books!!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Addictive storyteller, outstanding narration.

Mr. Archer is just a great teller of tales. His heroes and heroines, in this case autobiographical, are so engaging and charismatic I became hopelessly addicted to the series.

The same can be said of the villain. he a tragically bad seed from a family of outstanding good character, nobility and wealth. He reminds me of several of Follet's villains in Pillars of the Earth and Dangerous Fortune.

The intricate British cast system is brilliantly exposed as it provides much of the series' theme.

The performance is, in a word, brilliant.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Eddie
  • Topanga, CA, United States
  • 09-04-11

Loved it

Okay... I have been waiting for a new Jeffrey Archer book for a long time. This one doesn't disappoint... great story... great characters... fantastic narration. Can't wait for the sequels.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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What a great book! I was totally engrossed in it and loved the way Jeffrey Archer told the story from the perspective of each of the main characters. Narration was spot on. I put it up there with Pillars of the Earth and World Without End as one of those special epic stories. Only disappointment was that I will have to wait so long for the next one!

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 09-19-11

engrossing but derivative white hats/black hats

I love novels spun from "lives lived across the 20th century" and told from multiple angles. This has both those narrative strengths BUT is very derivative of other, similar novels (including early Ken Follett, who himself is derivative of other, better novels). Also like Follett, this features total goodies who constantly have dastardly deeds done undo them by total meanies. Frustrating, because it COULD have been a very good novel!

22 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathy
  • Davis, CA, United States
  • 09-19-16

Curiosity Got The Better of Me

I never read a book by Archer before, though I certainly heard his name tossed about. This seemed as good a place as any to start. I skimmed the reviews, it seemed like a generally well-liked book. So I gave it a try.

Over all, I really enjoyed it. For some dumb reason, I decided, while listening to the book, to further scrutinize the reviews, something I should not allow myself to do. I wish I hadn't, as I seemed to focus on the critics of which there are always some. Complaints abounded that Archer is not an elegant writer and that the ending was poor, in that the story finished abruptly offering no satisfaction.

Well, I am here to say that you should not underestimate good old-fashioned storytelling, of which Archer seems to excel. I also believe that from the get-go, he said he was writing a 5 part series about the Clifton's. Well, if that's the case, there are bound to be cliffhangers to keep us interested and going back. Makes sense to me.

I really enjoyed the story which takes place in the early 1900's. Harry and the other characters remain in my thoughts now that I have finished Book 1. Each of 7 characters had their own chapters and each of the "cohorts" got to express their own viewpoints regarding how they perceived Harry Clifton. New things came out in each individual's sections, and in that way, questions were answered. I haven't encountered this writing style before and it worked for me.

As for the much maligned ending? I knew it was going to end abruptly and it had a great twist I never saw coming. The twist and the good storytelling AND a great narration all combined to make me want to get Book 2, which I will.

And anyway, I was not in the mood for a 50-plus hour saga!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful