Publisher: Pan Macmillan
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There are some writers and some books where in spite of knowing that this book will leave me hanging mid-way you just need to read them. The Harry Potter series was one such book. No matter how many days/months/years you would spend speculating over what happens next, you just had to read it. The concept of sequels in non-fantasy books may backfire spectacularly, or you may have a book for the generations à la The Millennium Trilogy. In similar vein, Jeffrey Archer’s The Clifton Chronicles seems destined to stay atop the bestsellers list.
The Clifton Chronicles is a five-book epic narrating the story of Harry Clifton, and the book “Only Time Will Tell” is the part-one. This book follows the first twenty years of Harry Clifton’s life and the lives of his close friends and family from 1920 when Harry is born till 1940 when the World War II has just started. The author Jeffrey Archer is a masterful story teller. Before starting the book I knew it was just the start of Clifton Chronicles and would leave the story hanging and yet I had to keep on turning the pages, savouring the book. I was enthralled by the read.
The character of Harry Clifton is developed phenomenally well and it is not as if the other characters have been ignored – all have been characterized with immense care. The character of Old Jack Tar is especially exceptionally scripted. If ever a movie is based on the book, I’ve no doubt this character would be in contention for the Best Supporting Actor. The story never slacks, the flow is very smooth, and even though it is an epic there are no plot-holes, or at least no apparent ones.
The book blurb states that this is Jeffrey Archer's most ambitious project till date and it shows while reading. One of the few reasons I feel this book may not keep many readers happy is that the book ended so abruptly, that I was reminded of the daily soaps, and how they kept you hanging with the dramatic music. I wish the book had a cleaner ending, maybe ended one chapter earlier. That would have ensured that I am not on tenterhooks for a long time (which is the case right now), and yet I am looking forward to the next book to find how Harry leads his life. Another sore point is that it is just the first part of Clifton Chronicles and even then it is nearly 400 pages long.
But for me, I never felt like putting down the book – thanks to two things, one – exceptional writing by Jeffrey Archer and two – the story. This is a definite pick if you do not mind waiting for the next four books to come out in the subsequent years.
Verdict: Must read, if you can wait for the other parts. Else read all five in one go.