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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    2,693
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  • 3 Stars
    348
  • 2 Stars
    96
  • 1 Stars
    63

Performance

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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  • Performance
  • Story

Great Storytelling

Archer has a gift for telling a story. I've seen others here compare him to Follett. I can definitely see the similarities. As with Follett the good guys are wonderful, and the bad guys hopelessly despicable. The cliffhanger at the end is more a transition to a new phase of the same story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Unusual story telling style sinks book

I have read or listened to many Archer books in the past. Only Time Will Tell is a well worn tale. Archer has told it many times. It follows the story of a youth from birth through college in the pre-WWII era.

After about a quarter of the way through, I was cheering. I thought this was a great story and was eating it up. Only then it takes on a very strange story telling device. In this book, there are five or six main characters. It proceeds to jump from Harry (the protagonist) to his mother or other character. This is a little off putting, but that is not the crux of the problem. The problem is that the story rewinds and tells exactly what you have just read over again. Only from a different point of view. I believe that an author could have pulled this off, but the manner in which Archer approached this style felt very off.

So in the end, a story that had all the makings of a quality guilty pleasure turned into a confused jaggedly structured narrative.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • bebe
  • South Carolina
  • 02-12-16

Grabs and holds attention

Any additional comments?

Archer has a talent for writing books that grab and hold the reader/listener's attention. The story is interesting from page one. Harry Clifton is a very smart and talented child in England. He is from a poor home and his father is deceased. This first book begins when Harry is four or five years old, goes through his school years, and ends when he is about 18 years old, but the story is not finished. My criticisms are: (1) Be ready to read or listen to the rest of the books - book one leaves you hanging and the reviews say that the rest of the books also leave the listener hanging, (2) everything bad that could happen, does happen - it is very frustrating and aggravating, (3) there are just too many evil people involved in the story line. Praise for the book, other than the fact that the story is riveting, is that the readers are good and there are also some very good suppporting characters in the storyline. I like "Jack Tar" the most. He lives in an abandoned train car at the dock yards and you know from the beginning that there is a big story about him that is to be revealed..

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Ends in a Cliffhanger, leaving you wanting more

What did you like best about Only Time Will Tell? What did you like least?

I wish I had read the reviews more carefully before starting with "Only Time Will Tell" because these books end in the most awful cliffhangers in an attempt to force you into buying the next book. I liked the first book so much, that I bought the 2nd in The Clifton Chronicles despite the frustrating cliffhanger - I love a good series. Because of the cliffhanger at the end of the second book, though, I will not continue purchasing the series. Mr. Archer's story & the performances are very good; however, I feel almost tricked with the way he ends each book by basically saying "if you want to know how the story ends, you must buy the next book".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Story very slow

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I understand that it is the concept of the author to tell the story from different viewpoints, but this as well means that the same parts of the story get told on average 3 times - and sometimes make you feel that you listen to the same story again and again. Therefore it takes almost the full first book or 10 hours to start to get excited about the story.

Would you recommend Only Time Will Tell to your friends? Why or why not?

The first book ends with a cliffhanger, therefore be prepared to have the time to listen to all 5 books of the Clifton Chronicles.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

In the interview at the end of the book the author gave too much away from the next parts of the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • ARM
  • Colorado Springs, CO, US
  • 09-08-15

Too ĺong

Really enjoyed the first 40 chapters. A relaxing, feel good story. Many places where I thought it was a good place to end but it kept dragging on and on and getting less and less believable. 10 chapters too many. Great narrators though and that's key!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Entertaining

Good story line, strong characters but not destined to reach the status of a great classic. Still all in all very enjoyable.. Looking forward to the Next book in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A superb book, thrilled to hear more of Chronicles

A wonderful book, told from very different points of view focusing around the docks in Bristol, England. We learn about a young choral scholar, his working mother, his dockworker uncle, his deceased father, an older man assisting in the boy’s education, and another darker figure. The story unfolds smoothly but quickly and is lovely in the way it easily unravels its complexity. The twists are beautiful, as the shadows become light. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. I am so thrilled to read more about Harry Clifton, Emma, and the other characters who I have grown to admire and appreciate in the rest of the Clifton Chronicles.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Off To A Good Start!

(As you may already know) I’m LOUSY at keeping track of who’s who in a story with over 4 or 5 main characters. Perhaps I don’t try hard enough or maybe I don’t stay focused long enough… whatever the reason it’s hard for me but I did not have ANY trouble with this book because of the clever way the story was written.

Essentially it’s the same story told 7 times from the point of view of the 7 major characters but since each segment was long enough to really delve into, and because there was no flipping around, I was able to follow along effortlessly.

I’d be hard pressed to tell you in a few sentences what the story was all about; it’s like trying to explain what’s going on in a Soap Opera. It’s about everything and nothing, it’s about the interesting happenings and secrets and lives of different people - a generational saga. My only complaint is that it ended with a cliffhanger – annoying!

I can easily compare this book to A Dangerous Fortune and Fall of Giants by Ken Follett if it helps.

This is the first in a series of 5 books, and I am in for the next instalment – in fact, I will download it and read it right away before I forget who everyone is!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Good Saga

If you could sum up Only Time Will Tell in three words, what would they be?

A good story

Would you recommend Only Time Will Tell to your friends? Why or why not?

I would recommend the story for an enjoyable episode.

Have you listened to any of Roger Allam and Emelia Fox ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No. I enjoyed the performance.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?


3 of 4 people found this review helpful