The epic tale of Harry Clifton's life begins in 1920, with the chilling words, 'I was told that my father was killed in the war'. But it will be another twenty years before Harry discovers how his father really died, which will only lead him to question: who was his father?
Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore who worked in Bristol docks, or the first born son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line?
Only Time will Tell covers the years from 1920 to 1940, and includes a cast of memorable characters that The Times has compared to The Forsyte Saga. Volume one 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.
In Jeffrey Archer's masterful hands, the reader is taken on a journey that they won't want to end, and when you turn the last page of this unforgettable yarn, you will be faced with a dilemma that neither you, nor Harry Clifton could have anticipated.
First look at the title and the cover and there's no reason which can deter a reader from giving it a go. The magnificence of the 1920's is written all over the image and the title adds to that subtle element of mystery. The blurb talks about Harry Clifton and his journey across Bristol and all over England which will set tone for an unexpected and tormenting future. The blurb is a bit lengthy and could have been given a trim to make it more hard hitting.
The story is of Barringtons & Cliftons, both the families coming from two different sections of the society. Barringtons are rich and Cliftons are poor, Barringtons command respect while Cliftons earn it the hard way. Barringtons have it their way whenever they want but for Cliftons it's a tough ask. So what is it in store for both the families when their younger ones will tread on a path filled with turmoil and happiness. Who will have the upper hand by the end of it all and who will turn into a pauper? That's what the story is all about.
There is a certain sensation to the story and it tickles down like sweat from the brows. It slowly enjoys that shiver down the spine kind of a notion and sets parameters of how to handle the story. The book is a generic divide between the rich and the poor, luck and hard work,right and wrong and most importantly destiny and the destined. A choc a bloc story with the serene calm which rather ruthlessly rules the roost. The space given to the characters explored with command and the tone and tempo falling back and forth only airs the grievances of both the families. The surprises add to the misery of the reader and you need to hold on to the nerves as the more it seems simple the complicated it becomes with time.
The only possible downside of the book is lack of depth to certain important events which are a passing affair. Probably a few words more and it could have given a lot more clarity to the story. A few events have been dragged way beyond their limits which could have been curbed easily.
All in all it's a master saga like a dream come true. It works on the formula of "stay calm and it will happen soon". What is it, for whom and when are the questions to be answered and they are gradually in time. The story is a methodical dissertation of the best of fiction. The colors of life come alive and make it a reality as what starts is not easy to finish. You tend to ask for more by the end of it. It's a swansong written and experienced only once in a lifetime.
4 OUT OF 5