Only Time Will Tell (Book 1)


Harry Clifton’s life begins in 1920 with the words, “I was told that my father was killed in the war.” Harry never knew his father, a dock worker in Bristol, but he learns about that life from his uncle, who expects Harry to join him at the shipyard once he’s done with school. It’s a sad prospect, so when Harry’s beautiful singing voice wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys’ school and a ticket off the docks, this reader’s heart lifted, knowing his life will never be the same.

Harry meets his lifelong best friend at St. Bede’s: Giles Barrington, eldest son of one of the richest families in Bristol. He’s Harry’s savior in the harsh school world, but perhaps the best thing that comes from their friendship is Harry’s introduction to Giles’ sister, Emma, destined to become the love of Harry’s life.

As he enters adulthood, Harry finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth he hears from his mother only leads him to question whether he really is the son of Arthur Clifton, a working man who spent his whole life on the docks, or the first-born son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line?

This first novel in Archer’s 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—a decision made even more fraught by the coming to light of a deep secret that threatens everything Harry has ever believed to be true, even his love for Emma Barrington.

It’s a wonderfully ambitious idea, to bring to life 100 years of history over the course of one family’s story, their triumphs, tragedies, joys and heartbreaks. This first volume—and its cliffhanger!—bodes well for the rest of the series.

  1. Barbara Ranous says:

    Very much enjoyed all 4 books in the Clifton Chronicles and am looking forward to reading the 5th. As I had read them awhile ago, I am re-acquainting myself with the story prior to the release of the 5th book.

    Jeffrey Archer is an excellent story teller. I’ve read most all of his other books.

  2. Rachel Belanger says:

    loved all the books, can’t wait to read the next.

  3. Vignesh says:

    Although i started reading this series only when ” The sins of father” was released I managed to catch up and m now waiting eagerly for the release of the next book… More than the story , it is the way in which it is told that is wonderful. The wait for this book has been by far the longest periods i have had to endure… Mr. Jeffrey Archer- The greatest storyteller I’ve ever known

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