Friday, May 16, 2014

Book Club / Book Bingo: Only Time Will Tell

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer is the first in a series called The Clifton Chronicles. When I first started it, I thought it was a stand-alone novel, and one of the girls in my book group picked it out. She promised "it wouldn't be boring," and she "really liked Jeffrey Archer." She was right. The story focuses on Harry Clifton, a poor boy from Bristol with a widowed mother and some mystery as to how exactly his father died. It begins with a segment about Maisie, his mother, and how she came to be married and pregnant, and moves on from there to the family's struggles to send Harry to a good school and a promising future.

(picture taken from Goodreads;
jacket design by David Baldeosingh Rotstein)

First Impression: I did not think I would like this at all. I figured it would jump in with some action and some mystery (it's described to bookstores as a "fiction thriller," which is hard to define), but it didn't. The first few chapters have already brought me close to the lives of the characters. Archer's writing style feels as though the narrator is speaking specifically to me and telling me interesting stories about his or her life. The narrator switches between characters every once in a while, and the author really makes it work for the book. I don't want to know just about one character; I want to know the whole story. I am a little confused about the time-period of the narration, however. Each narrator seems to tell his or her story, but I can't tell if they're talking to the narrator during the events of the book or later in their lives. This will probably be resolved as I read more. I'm certainly not dreading reading it for my book group anymore! 

Conclusion: One of my favorite things is when an author really focuses on the characters--character development, I mean--more than anything else, and Archer does that. The novel is split-up into sections by point-of-view, which changes several times. The author also tells the story of the same time period from these various points-of-view. I found it really interesting to see the same events through a completely different set of eyes each time. I also really liked the main character and the majority of the side characters, which helped me to get into the book initially. When Archer switched to my least favorite character, I was curious to see if he was as hard-hearted and cruel as he appeared to be, so that kept me intrigued as well. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I probably won't continue the series like I thought I would initially. The story of Harry, his mother, and his friends was very interesting to me, but there's a twist at the end. It seems like the second book might be more about action and intrigue than the interconnected lives of a very diverse group of people, and I tend to prefer the latter.

Only Time Will Tell is one of my "Series" choices for the 2014 Book Bingo Challenge.


  1. I've read one Jeffrey Archer book and quite liked it, tho the title escapes me at the moment. But for some reason, I haven't read more. One day, perhaps. I do recall it was quite well-written and character-rich.

    1. I'm guessing character-centered writing is common in Archer's books, then. I enjoyed the focus.