From the Publisher:
The epic tale of Harry Clifton's life begins in 1920, with the words "I was told that my father was killed in the wat." 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 will never be the same again.
As he enters into adulthood, Harry finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth only leads him to 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 one hundred years of recent history to reveal a family story that neither the listener nor Harry Clifton himself could every have imagined.
I love historical fiction novels, but this is the first audiobook I have listened to in this genre. I was a little afraid that some of the detailed description that characterizes most historical fiction novels would come across as a bit dull. I can honestly say this audiobook was not boring. In fact, it was one of the best audiobooks I have listened to, and I have listened to quite a few.
The first part of the book is told from young Harry Clifton's point of view. This portion sets the tone for the entire novel, endearing Harry to the reader. Harry struggles to overcome his position in the social hierarchy of pre-World War II Bristol. Most of his classmates are from wealthy families, even his best friend, Giles Barrington. But Harry takes the punches he is dealt and continues on, bettering himself along the way.
After the first part, the story is told from the point of view of other characters. Each backing up a bit to fill in missing information and then continuing the story. I found this very enjoyable. I already knew some of the story that was coming, but would then think, Oh yea, that's what was going on there. Now it all makes sense.
There is plenty of drama in Only Time Will Tell. Harry's father disappears when he is a baby. We later learn the story behind his disappearance. Harry's mother does whatever is necessary to put him through school, often going against what is in her best interest. There is love and betrayal, friendship and hatred. Harry finds himself in love with a girl that just may be his sister. Like I said, lots of drama.
The main narrator, Roger Allam, has a deep, proper English voice. He is the perfect choice for this story, From the very beginning, I felt a strong connection. Emelia Fox narrates the female viewpoints. Her voice is a stark contrast, being light and pleasant. The entire audiobook seemed more like a theater production than just a reading of a book.
I have noticed a lot of people complaining about the ending of the book. It ends with a pretty major cliff hanger. This was not an issue for me. There is enough closure to the main plot in this novel to satisfy me. I viewed the very last section of the book as more of a preview of what would be coming in book two of the Harry Clifton Chronicles.
I do not usually give out 1/2 point ratings, but I felt it was necessary here. I loved this book and am dying to find out what the next one brings. However, in doing some research for this review, I found out some interesting things about color blindness. It is a condition that affects mostly males and is almost always passed down from the mother's DNA, not the father's. This means that it would be very rare for so many male Barringer's to have been color blind. That seems to be a major hole in the plot. Maybe that will be explained in future novels. I hope so.
Jeffrey Archer was educated at Oxford University. He has served five years in Britain’s House of Commons and fourteen years in the House of Lords. All of his novels and short story collections---including And Thereby Hangs a Tale, Kane and Abel, Paths of Glory and False Impression ---have been international bestselling books. Archer is married with two sons and lives in London and Cambridge.
Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
Narrated by Roger Allam and Emelia Fox
Publication Date: August 2011
I received a review copy of this audiobook from the publisher.