Only Time Will Tell

Written by Jeffrey Archer
Review by Jeanne Greene

Archer’s latest saga introduces a bright young man facing an uphill battle. Harry Clifton is born in Bristol, England, in 1920 to Maisie and Arthur Clifton, a young working-class couple, but Arthur disappears mysteriously, and the boy grows up without a father. Maisie is illiterate, but she takes work as a waitress to support them, and she never gives up on making a better life for her talented son.

Young Harry has a beautiful singing voice. When a choral scholarship gets him into a good grammar school for two years, it becomes clear that Harry has the intelligence to further his education but, without money or connections, he’s more likely to end up working on the docks. Of all the young man’s gifts, however, none is more valuable than his ability to inspire friendship and, to a degree unknown to Harry, teachers, mentors, and friends make sure he gets through Oxford. It looks like the sky’s the limit for Harry – until he runs into trouble and takes the wrong way out.

Only Time Will Tell has many narrators: Harry’s mother, a young woman he loves, his best friend, his mentor, and a man who could be his father. Each tells the story from a different perspective. So we may know more about Harry’s past than he does – but not what Harry’s going to do when he finds out. Be prepared for surprising developments that upend all your expectations and keep you guessing.

This is Volume 1 of a planned trilogy, The Clifton Chronicles, which will follow the life of Harry Clifton through the 20th century. Readers will be eager for Volume 2 of Harry’s intriguing story.