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Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up here >>

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Colin Enticknap

I was pleased to receive the copy of Only Time Will Tell. Unfortunately it arrived just one month after I had read the novel! This is the best novel that Jeffrey Archer has produced for some time and it is appropriate for this anniversary year. He has introduced very plausible characters and a plot that seems true to life of the period. I am impressed by the result of his obvious research and advice, which has not been apparent in some of his earlier works.

Margaret Gilmour

A real page turner, leaving me ready to read the sequel. Harry Clifton’s life is documented so realistically you can imagine yourself in his world. His taking the identity of another for good reasons seems to have backfired on him and the cliff-hanger is in the ending!

Hilary Marshall

This is a brilliant book, typical of Jeffrey Archer. The start of Harry Clifton’s epic tale is told with a mixture of drama and emotion that is very difficult to put down. As you can no doubt tell I am a great fan of Jeffrey Archer and I am ‘hooked’ on the Harry Clifton Chronicles.

Rosemary Case

As I had read several of Geoffrey Archer’s books I was very much looking forward to reading this one. It did not disappoint, a very good read. I especially liked the story told from the perspective of the main characters. It was enthralling from start to finish and with the end the way it was, I can’t wait to read book two in the series.

Graham Lines

An enjoyably read but the ending was far too inconclusive. I know the book is part of a series but I still think there needs to be a definitive start and conclusion to each part so that the reader can enjoy the book irrespective of having read a previous part of needing to read a sequel. Thank you for sending me the book.

Lorna Taylor

5 star – highly recommended for holiday reading. A gripping story with characters who draw you in from the very beginning. And a real twist at the end. I’ve since ordered the others in the series but will be reading them now, can’t wait for my next holiday!

Mrs V A Samuels

I was surprised and interested to receive Jeffrey Archer’s book Only Time Will Tell with a request for my thoughts on the same. I have read the book and found the characters and events carefully thought out and developed which keeps you guessing and on your toes. He introduced his historical facts and characters which sat well within the years he was depicting through the 1920s and 30s. I feel sure Jeffrey Archer drew heavily on his own experience of the time he spent at boarding school which made that part of the story so believable. His technique of telling the story and then going back over the incidents from the point of view of those involved was interesting. For me, however, it reminded me of “The Prodigal Daughter” which drew heavily on the previous book “Kane and Abel” and became a bit repetitive and I just wanted to get on with a very interesting plot. To conclude, a good holiday read with a promising sequel to follow.

Diane Honeyman

I am normally a reader of horror and true and fictional crime. I am occasionally lent or given books that I would not normally look at. On reading the above book I found I could not put it down. The story was heart-warming of a poor boy who is encouraged to better himself by people in his life. Also looking from their side on the progress of the boy to manhood. I will be continuing to read how he progresses in the subsequent books in the saga. Also the ending had a twist which makes you want more.

Pat Mahlich

Only Time Will Tell was a most enjoyable read and a great page turner – couldn’t wait to buy the next two volumes and am well on the way with the second one Sins of the Father.

Sandra Young

A bit predictable and similar to many other rich/poor tales. Okay for a read on the plane.

Derek Plumb

Jeffrey Archer writes with a style that is easy to read and builds images clearly of not only the characters in the book but also the environment and time contexts the book is set in. I enjoyed the fact that the main characters were given chapters to themselves that allowed the reader to understand in depth the background, upbringing and how each person came to be involved in this story. He clearly portrays the hardship of the time and the dilemmas of family life when money is hard to come by and the family unit is a complicated one. A few twists along the way build up to the major one at the end of the story. I think this book is a good read and I can see it being perfectly suited for the time spent on a river cruise with the reader being able to start and finish it during the duration of the cruise.

Joan Rogers

Having been sent Only Time Will Tell, I’ve now read the next three books in the Clifton Chronicles. Pity I’ve got to wait until 2015 for the 5th book. Thanks very much.

Denise Harling

I was pleased to receive this book just before my holiday. I found it to be an easy read that I could pick up at any time. The characters were well defined and believable and their stories were very cleverly woven together. This is the first book I have read by Mr Archer and I was pleasantly surprised. I will be sure to look out for others.

Jocelyn Cornwell

I finished Jeffrey Archer’s book just before we went away on holiday and I found it very easy to read. The story did keep your interest and I did want to know what happened next but was unbelievable at times. Harry Clifton’s mum or friends just happened to know the right person or be in the right place, however, I did read the whole book in just a few days. Thank you so much for sending the book. I am always looking for a book read as there is nothing better than a really good book where you have to bargain with yourself- I will just read another chapter and then I will do the ironing!

Robert Wellcoat

Thank you for the very good read from Lord Jeffrey Archer, loved the first book in the Clifton Chronicles, Only Time Will Tell. Our main character Harry Clifton has a very complicated life in the Cookson style start to the Clifton Chronicles. A Historical novel with lies and deceit that twists and turns on every page. Old Jack, a very intriguing character, befriends our Harry, His school teacher Miss Monday sees the young Harry’s potential, we find out late in the novel the truth about his missing father. His mother who also has many secrets works hard to give him a university education, during which through his friends he find some of his past, With the outbreak of the war, trying to get away from all the lies and deceit Harry decides to get a naval career on board a ship going to America, which comes to an abrupt end mid Atlantic. Trying to get a new identity, things turn sour for Harry. What a cliff-hanger ending, can’t wait to read the second book to find out our Harry’s fate.

Hilary Nicholson

As an avid reader and a member of a local book club I was very pleased to receive a copy of Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer from The Viking Book Club. This proved to be a perfect holiday read; good plot, short chapters, characters that could be applauded and others vilified. As I read the last page I realised that this book was part one of a series; and even better the next book was already for sale. Off to the book shop tomorrow. Thank you Viking.

Brian Bawden

You sent me a copy of Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer. My wife read it first and stated that it was easy reading. If that was the case, I replied, I have quite a number of Archer books for her to read. She did obtain Volume 2 of the Clifton Chronicles, The Sins of the Father, from the local library and has read that. Now, myself, well I have not read any of Jeffrey’s books since he was convicted of Perjury and Perverting the Course of Justice, he is about 1 year older than me, he was attached to Brasenose College (BNC) at Oxford where he received a Diploma in Teaching I believe. I am sure I saw him running either for the Varsity or AAA at the Iffley Road Track. I found the book to be very easy reading, Harry Clifton was born in a house with no hot water, an outside toilet, and a tin bath on the wall in the back yard. So was I, I escaped by passing 11 plus, he won a couple of scholarships. That is where we differ. Having said all that, I do believe that the Clifton Chronicles would be an asset in the Viking Cruises Libraries. I have noted that Mr Archer has written books that have sold 270 million copies, does he realise that there are no pockets in a shroud and that you cannot take the money with you?

Elise Townsend

Many thanks for the book you sent recently. I have to admit that Jeffrey Archer probably would never have been on my booklist. However, having started reading it, it was one of those books which was difficult to put down. Nevertheless, in spite of the incredibly contorted character of Hugo Barrington in particular, it made me both cringe and smile. I look forward to reading the next book.

Elise Townsend

As a writer I was disappointed with this book. I made several notes on small editing requirements up as far as page 163, then gave up. I preserved for two-thirds of the way through, waiting for some excitement or tension to build. The repetition of the events from the first part from a second point of view provided very little extra information and proved rather tedious I then realised I was reading just to finish it to start something else. Not a good reason in my mind to carry on. Have abandoned this read. Looking on your Facebook page, people mention a twist in the tale. This came far too late for me. Jeffrey Archer appears again to be an author who gets published because of his celebrity status. I feel you should give an opportunity to less well-known authors who are much better writers.

Carol Allan

When I received this Jeffrey Archer Book, I was inclined to give it away, as Archer is not an author I particularly like. However, I decided to give it a try and actually found it a very good read. I do not usually like books written via several different characters, but this format worked well with this particular novel. I found it very hard to put down and was surprised by the very unexpected last page. From being a non-Archer lover, I would be willing to try some more of his books and hope I enjoy them as much as I did this one.

Gillian Miller

Could not lay this book down. The characters were so believable that they jumped off the pages. Archer builds up the story so well and the ending left me running for the next in the trilogy. I would strongly recommend this as a great holiday read.

Dave Richardson

Thanks very much for sending a copy of Mr Archer’s book Only Time Will Tell to us. My wife and I have read Jeffrey Archer previously and we both enjoyed this book very much. It was a very easy read which neither of us wanted to put down and in fact I didn’t and pretty much read it in three sessions throughout one day. We both are looking forward to reading the rest of The Clifton Chronicles. Once again, thanks.

Anthony Lavender

I have just finished reading the above book which you sent to me. To be honest, I did not want to put it down. It was a really great read and my wife is now going to read it too. Many thanks.

Andrea Chichester

Thank you for sending me a copy of Jeffrey Archer’s Only Time Will Tell. Having not read one of his books in a long time, I found this book a very enjoyable easy read. I also enjoyed reading a book again instead of using my Kindle as I do miss page turning.

Shirley Arrol

Hi, thank you for sending me Jeffrey Archer’s Only Time Will Tell. I really enjoyed this book and thought it was well set out and built up the story through the eyes of each individual. I would definitely read the sequel to find out what happens next. This style of book would make a good addition to a library on a Viking River Cruise as I think it would appeal to a wide array of readers.

Caron Gaw

I was delighted to receive this book in the post. I have never read any of his books as I have never been interested in the synopsis. It took me a few days to pick up the book and start to read it. I got to page 11, it then took another 2 weeks before I managed to pick the book up again. It had not grasped my interest and I found it a bit slow. After reading a bit more I found the story became quite gripping and flew through the pages very quickly. I found the characters interesting and the book very easy reading.

By the end of the book I was quite engaged with the life of Harry Clifton and his various friends and relatives. I may consider reading the other books in the series. The downside was that I found the story a tad predictable. It seemed to mirror other similar ‘family’ stories. I also didn’t especially like the style of writing… that is the focus on one individual and their role in the story and then quite disjointedly turning to another character. I found some of the jumps from the narration to commentary irritating. That perhaps is personal reference. Would I recommend this book to my friends? I think I would suggest it ideal for a short, entertaining, no stress read. Maybe on a plane or on the beach. Not the type of book that would me to read it. Thanks again for the opportunity to read a Jeffrey Archer book.

Desley Taylor

You recently sent me a book – Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer as an introduction to your book club. I have read the book in a couple of weeks (unheard of for me these days) and although it is not a book I would have chosen from the bookshelf I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It was different to the type of book I usually read and to begin with I wasn’t sure about it. As I got further into the book I found I was picking it up every spare minute I had. Having completed the first of the Clifton Chronicles, I am going to have to read the next one in the near future. Thank you for sending me the book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I will now pass it on to a friend to enjoy.

John Davies

Thank you very much for sending me the Jeffrey Archer book Only Time Will Tell. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it set me on the trail of the rest of the Chronicle series. I am now waiting for the next book in the series to be published next year.

Muriel Hall

Thank you for sending me the above paperback. I have not read a Jeffrey Archer novel for many years so it was with interest that I read Only Time Will Tell. I found it a very easy, undemanding read and okay to read on a journey when you do not want to concentrate very hard or think seriously about what you read. I found the plot very predictable and rather unbelievable. Having said that, I did keep reading it to the end so that I could confirm that I guessed was going to happen. I do not however feel inclined to read the next book in the series, or to read any more books by Jeffrey Archer.

Susan Stout

Jeffrey Archer is not an author that I am familiar with so I was unsure of what to expect. The story centres around the main character of the book, Harry, a boy from a poor background and dubious parentage who is able to remove himself from a poor existence due to the fortune of an excellent singing voice. This in turn enables him to have an education that he would not have otherwise had. Entwined with this theme are the dubious exploits of Harry’s possible father; a mentor who was a war hero; a mother who eventually is able to support Harry through prostitution and various other twists and turns in the plot. The book is written to a well-worn formula, poor boy makes good and suffers all manner of problems along the way, which in turn are solved by the other heroes in the plot. I’m not sure that this would be a book that I would have chosen for myself, however, Archer is a popular author and sells well, possibly because his stories become a compelling read, even though you are aware of this well-worn and at times predictable, repetitive and over simplified formula. It has been described as “Enid Blyton for grown-ups.” The book is easy to put down and pick up again without losing the thread of the story as the plot is continually reinforced by each character telling their own story. As a result, it’s not the most challenging read and therefore is well suited to holiday reading. It is, I am sure, some people’s guilty pleasure.

Maggie Lyon-Dean

The story line is ‘OK’ – if rather predictable – poor boy, rich boy, tyrannical rich father, hard-working poor mother, boorish uncle, good and kind working class people, love between possible half siblings, class conflicts etc etc. The ending of this episode was very contrived – and as we had no real character building in the story –everyone a cardboard cut-out – there was no real point in the identity change, unless to keep brave hero in the USA.

I have to admit to preferring books with a bit more intellectual challenge – even while on holiday. I rather resented giving up time on Jane Eyre in order to read the Archer book. On a positive note he does rattle through the yarn – I just wish not so superficially.

P Taylor

I found it a quick read, great for holidays. I expected more from Archer as I love his complicated interwoven plots, however, this is the usual poor boy made good, sacrificing himself for high ideals. A pot boiler which does not particularly encourage me to read the rest of the series.

Rosalind Hargrave

The novel is the first in a series, the central character being Harry Clifton, born in 1919 in a poor area of Bristol close to the docks. His father and uncle worked there before joining the army in the War in which, so Harry is told, his father was killed. Harry grows into an intelligent and questioning child who prefers to loiter around the docks where his uncle works rather than go to school. He is finally persuaded by an elderly, destitute, but well educated man who he befriends at the docks that this might be a mistake and he might miss opportunities if he continues to bunk off. So begins Harry’s growing up years and his journey to a higher social class. The writing is typically Jeffrey Archer at his best and moves rapidly along, introducing further intrigue on each fresh page. All the characters are believable and it’s impossible not to empathise with those who struggle to give Harry a better start in the difficult years between the World Wars. The only thing I disliked was the sudden and unexpected frustrating twist at the end of the book. This novel should appeal to all who like historical family drama with mystery mixed in.

Deborah Burke

You don’t expect anything too challenging when you read Jeffrey Archer – no descriptive passages, no real character development, just a succession of events that gradually come together to form a fairly gripping tale. Some details are a little implausible but nevertheless it was an enjoyable holiday read with an ending that ensures you read the next instalment.

Diane Croft

Not a book I would have bought myself, but what a great read, I will definitely be getting the other books in the series now. Full marks, Viking, for the new book club!

Terry Hicks

I was intrigued with this book from the start, as I was born and raised in the area of Bristol that Jeffrey sets this book. The Bristol aspects are well researched and described. But the plot is full of twists and a desire to keep turning the pages to see what can possibly happen next. The end is a real cliff-hanger and I highly recommend this book and the series.

Jennie Jeffery

I had avoided reading Jeffrey Archer up until receiving my copy of Only Time Will Tell from the Viking Book Club. I am also a fairly slow reader in real life! I dived in the book the day it arrived and I barely put it down in the couple of days it took to read. I really became involved with Harry Clifton and all the people involved with his life. I adored Old Jack and Harry’s feisty mother. The twists and turns were mostly easy to see coming but I loved it. Was there nothing Harry could not achieve? I was rooting for Harry all the way. However, the double flip ending, although very clever, left me disappointed and with questions unanswered. I felt it was one twist too many for me. I will give Mr Archer another chance and read more of his books.

Dorothy Garlick

Master Storyteller Jeffrey Archer has done it again with this gripping page-turner, the first in the Clifton Chronicles’ saga. It tells the story of the early years of Harry Clifton, a boy born on the wrong side of the tracks in Bristol in the closing stages of the Great War. From his inauspicious beginnings, Harry, with the support of his mother and the enigmatic tramp Old Jack, gains a scholarship to a prestigious school where his life becomes inextricably linked with that of the wealthy and influential Barrington family.

With a host of the colourful characters that we associate with Lord Archer, the tale unfolds at a sparkling pace towards the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry is faced with a seemingly unsolveable dilemma. How he deals with this, the consequences of which result in the cliff hanger ending, Only Time Will Tell will leave you in a state of eager anticipation for the sequel. A brilliant read!

Carol Stewart

This is an easy-reading book which contains a well thought out story – ideal for a holiday read. Without giving too much away, it is about the life of a boy growing into a man and the consequences of actions of others around him (a tangled web woven). A quote from the book which for me is a thread running through the story is “some people stand by you in your darkest hour, while the others walk away; only a select few march towards you and become even closer friends.

Richard Cox

Well, I have managed time to read this book Only Time Will Tell. 1st class. The book keeps you in suspense all the way! Perhaps one can feel as if they are part of the story the way it is written. Much looking forward to the next book that would be Part 2 of the story. You did well picking this book as I am sure many readers will not be able to put it down once they start to read it and will be wondering when Part 2 will be published!

Wendy Robinson

The good news was, Viking had sent me a book. The bad news was, it was by Jeffrey Archer, but nevertheless I fulfilled the bargain and read it cover to cover.

If you don't mind clichéd characters, banal dialogue and clunky chunks of history thrown in for authenticity, then this is for you. I have to admit it's easy to read, and you won't be hit by long sentences, hard words or descriptive passages. In fact, it is melodrama of the finest.

It is divided up into sections, each one telling the story of one of the characters introduced by a section in that character's voice. These sections overlap as well as moving the story forward and filling in the gaps from previous sections. I found this a good way of breaking up a long narrative - and it is long.

A warning, though - you reach the last few pages thinking you will finally find out what happens to these people, but no! It's a cliff-hanger! Our hero is arrested (I won't give anything more away) and you realise there are two more volumes to go. Do I care enough to read them? No.

Please, Viking, don't send me any more Archers. Have you any good books?

Jenny Miah

A very easy to read book with an interesting style and story line. I have now read and enjoyed the first 3 books in the Clifton Chronicles despite the somewhat implausible story line and convenient coincidences. Great for a holiday or train journey.

Mike Clarke

What a stunning read.

It grabs your attention from the word ‘go’ and leaves you looking forward, with huge anticipation, to the next instalment – a bit like going on Viking cruises really – you can’t wait for the next one!

The title, Only Time Will Tell, is very apt because its a family saga, packed with a heart warming account of a mother’s huge, self-sacrificing, commitment to creating a better life for her son tempered by the continual uncertainty of will the latest plan come off ! Set in the 1920’s and succeeding years, it is also a fascinating piece of social history, with much emphasis on the impact of ‘class’, and the struggle of the less privileged to become well- educated and rise above, what would otherwise be, their station if life.

It is filled with trials and tribulations and with an array of remarkable characters like Old Jack’, the reclusive, inhabitant of a redundant railway carriage, who has his own secrets, but is well-educated and a wise counsellor to Harry Clifton, the main focus of the book. Harry’s progress, with the aid of such friends as teacher Miss Monday, who recognises his ability and is devoted to helping him do well, and get to grammar school and succeed as an outstanding singer, is an astonishing but thoroughly plausible, triumph.

The book also features love, treachery, and villainy against a background of aspiration. Here you read about the ups and downs of the mother’s love life and, in particular, about Harry’s romantic interest in Emma Giles, a young lady above his social class, whose father had a sinister and mysterious part to play his Harry’s father’s misfortunes. The novel is well written, filled with revelations and cliff hangers. A real page turner that leads into an extraordinary plot, involving Harry in going to sea, partly to release Emma from commitment to him, and to ready himself for action in WWII, changing his identity being accused of murder, and ..... but enough of that here.... you’ll have to read the book and its succeeding volumes, when they come out, to enjoy the twists and turns of this terrific bit of literature!

Barbara Bond

This book, Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer, I just could not put down. Every twist and turn had me eager to read more. I passed the book to my husband, who does read, and he could not put the book down either. And now I am going to have to get "The Sins of the Father".

Thank you Viking for getting me into Jeffrey Archer.

L. G. R. Perry

I found this book to be most interesting, not only because I have a family connection with Bristol and specifically some of the places mentioned, but the story and the way it was told was very gripping. I found it very hard to put down. I will certainly be reading the next in the "Clifton" series.

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