Only Time Will Tell – Jeffrey Archer
I think I was about 15 when I read my first Jeffrey Archer, Kane and Abel. In the 80s we didn’t have the wonderful range of YA titles we have now and I moved from Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie, Stephen King and Jeffrey Archer. Archer’s early novels were great fun with gripping storylines and larger than life characters so I was quite intrigued at the prospect of revisting his writing 35 years later.
Only Time Will Tell is the first of a pentology, The Clifton Chronicles so be prepared for a sweeping saga. The first novel covers the first 20 years of the life of Harry Clifton, born in Bristol in 1919. He’s always thought his father died as a war hero but things are not quite as they seem. His early years are tough but thanks to a series of serendipitous events (more on that later…) he manages to secure a scholarship to St Bedes where most of the pupils come from an extremely privileged background. We follow the sometimes dizzying swings and roundabouts of Harry’s early years, never quite knowing what’s coming next.
Jeffrey Archer is a master storyteller and I whizzed through this novel in a couple of sittings. Is it great literature? Will it change my life? Is Harry destined to oust Heathcliffe from my affections? Nope to all of the above but it was sheer mindless entertainment, extremely readable and filled with ridiculous plot twists and fortuitous events – ideal for your sick bed or sun lounger. It reminded me of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A Woman of Substance, another saga which I enjoyed immensely. I’m not sure if the bookseriesphobe in me will allow me to follow more of Harry’s adventures but you know, he’s quite addictive so a library reservation might be in order.
Pure escapism – switch your brain off and enjoy.
PS Book Four in the series is already out. Published by www.panmacmillan.com