Friday, September 23, 2011

My take on: Only Time Will Tell

I'm always a sucker for family dramas. Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer takes us from the 1920s-1940s. Harry Clifton was born into a poor family in England, and life hands him every curve ball possible. He father died under mysterious circumstances, and his mother, Maisie, must take every demeaning job out there to keep the family afloat. His uncle Stan thinks hard work and liquor are more important than school. Harry has a chance to make something of himself, but a secret from his mother's past will always be haunting him.

While at boarding school Harry becomes best friends with Giles Barrington. The Barrington family is one of privilege, which Harry is in awe of at times. Theirs is a true friendship. Harry finds out Giles is stealing from the school commissary. When he confronts Giles, I thought this had disaster written all over it. Giles could have easily sold out Harry. Blame Harry and Giles gets to keep his high place in society. After all who would believe the son of a poor waitress isn't a thief? They stick together through thick and thin. But it's a friendship that Giles' father, Hugo, doesn't want to happen. Hugo is always cold to Harry. No one knows why. Telling you why would just spoil the entire book. But I have to tell you it's a big one.

Hugo wants Harry as far away from his son as possible. He does his best to sabotage Maisie professionally. But Maisie doesn't break. Every time she is knocked down, Maisie finds a way to get back up. She works hard as a waitress, a business owner, a waitress again, and then in a seedy night club. All the while Harry doesn't know the sacrifices Maisie makes.

The story is told from several points of view. Each section begins with a first-person account, then shifts to a third-person account. Harry is the first character you connect with. You feel his frustration about the death of his father. No wants to tell him the truth. He doesn't believe his father Arthur died during the war. It just isn't possible. Is it that bad? Do people think he just can't handle it? We do learn the reason why later on. It has more to do with his uncle Stan making a deal with the devil. We don't hear from Harry's perspective until near the end of the book. I didn't really like that. Harry is all throughout the book, but his story is being told by another character. When Giles and Emma Barrington tell their story, you feel a little closer to Harry.

When it shifts to Maisie, I felt so bad for her. Life knocks her down so much, I wanted her to get a break. Hugo Barrington gets a turn, too. He is such a jerk. He sabotages others to save his own skin. Hugo knows the truth about Arthur's death. He had a chance to save him, but was more worried about the bottom line. Being kind to Harry just isn't in the cards. Showing Harry any kindness could possibly lead to the truth everyone is trying to hide.

When Harry's mentor, Old Jack Tar, gets a chance to show his true self. Most people think he is off his rocker, but Old Jack is quite. But he's fighting his own demons. He saved several lives during the war, but Old Jack doesn't feel like a hero.

I was thoroughly engrossed in this tale. The title also seems very appropriate. As the book progresses, Only Time Will Tell before some of these characters have to face their past. In Harry's case, the past will impact his future.  It's the first in a series, which I'm glad because the ending leaves you wanting more. (MAJOR CLIFFHANGER AT THE END!!!)

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (St. Martin's Press) in exchange for an honest review. 

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