The Clifton Chronicles, the new series by Jeffrey Archer (best selling author of Kane & Abel), beginning with ONLY TIME WILL TELL, is the coming-of-age story of Harry Clifton. But this is so much more than a coming-of-age tale. It has an unexpected dark side that Archer delivers brilliantly as the story of Harry's life unfolds.
Book Description from Goodreads:
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 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?
I have to admit, I enjoyed this book so much that it even surprised me! Sometimes family sagas can be long and drawn out and bordering on boring, but I was pleased to discover that was not the case with ONLY TIME WILL TELL. The first thing I noticed in listening to this audio was the superb narration of Roger Allam. His smooth, even voice with it's pleasing English accent just makes you want to keep listening. It was perfectly suited for this novel. Allam does most of the narration but the voice of Harry's mother, done by Emelia Fox, was also spot on.
The way Archer told this story about Harry's young life and into adulthood was different than just telling a straight-forward story. As we drifted from character to character, the story would overlap and that enables the reader to get the whole truth of events and how they really happened. There were many revelations made this way simply from listening to another character's point of view. I really liked this technique and that's what gave me many 'Aha' moments. I didn't find it confusing at all.
The characters were fantastic and I especially enjoyed Old Jack, the old man living a secluded life at the shipyard who befriends Harry and looks out for him for years. It was an endearing relationship and made the story very special. All of the characters were well developed and with the interesting way Archer told this story, they seemed to constantly be evolving.
There was a darker side of this story that made it unpredictable. I tend to like books with a darker side and although this wasn't dark like evil dark, it was dark enough to know that at some point everything would be out in the open and it wouldn't be good.
I loved the way the first book ended and I am really looking forward to the next installment. Since I enjoyed the audio version so much, I believe I will continue with that format. After I finished this book, I felt an empty place and I actually missed hearing Harry's story told by Roger Allam.
Special thanks to Anna at Diary of an Eccentric for hosting the giveaway with Macmillan Audio that enabled me to experience this story.
ONLY TIME WILL TELL (Clifton Chronicles #1)
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: August 30, 2011
Listening Length: 12h 41m
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
Source: Giveaway Win from Diary of an Eccentric and Macmillan Audio