Only Time Will Tell review

“Only Time Will Tell” is the first novel of the Clifton Chronicles series written by Jeffrey Archer. The novel depicts the tale of a family across generations, the inter-relations among them and the various future consequences of their deeds.
The story is set in 1920’s describing the life of an infant Harry Clifton. It begins in first person as Harry says ‘I was told that my father was killed in the war’. He had never seen his father Arthur Clifton. Harry is brought up by his mother single-handedly. Also in his family is his uncle Stan who is the sole bread-earner of the house as well as his grandmother.
Young Harry visits the docks everyday as his Uncle works there and learns about the life at sea who wishes that Harry joins him there after school. But then an unexpected scholarship grants him an admission in a school of high-profile boys where Harry makes two best friends Giles Barrington and Deakins.
Massie Clifton (Harry’s mother) starts working day and night in order to fulfil Harry’s dream of going into Bristol Grammar School. But she faces many hardships and tries to hide it from her son. In the meanwhile Harry prepares for the entrance exam of the school so that he could get a scholarship.
Among all this, from his childhood Harry is guided by Captain Jack Turrant, a retired officer living near the docks and recuperating his old sins. He sculpts Harry in the best possible and helps him to prepare for his tests and various challenges Harry comes across in life.
Giles Barrington, Harry’s best friend is the son of Hugo Barrington who is the owner of the shipping company where Stan works. The concealed past of Hugo as well as his hatred for Harry doesn’t get appreciated by anyone in his family.
As the story unfolds, Harry comes to know his father wasn’t actually killed in the war. And the awful truth leads him to various questions, Was Arthur actually his father or is he the eldest son of the person who owns the shipping line?
The story includes a colourful cast which have their lives mingled with Harry’s in some way or the other. The story takes us from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry in adulthood has to choose whether to take up a place at Oxford or join the navy and go to war with Hitler’s Germany.
The author takes us on a journey which is full of twist and turns, mixed with a sense of simplicity which I most appreciate. The novel is certainly a must read and one of its kind.


A novel published in 1946 might seem outdated and forgotten in time, but The Fountainhead is as refreshing as it can ever be. I am in 2015 and can connect with almost everything written in the story.

Howard Roark and the struggle of his life in pursuing modernistic architectural style, Peter Keating and his struggle to always mould himself as how people would think of him. These two central characters are the heart of Rand’s novel.

In the first chapter we are introduced to a guy who appears extraordinarily anti-social, Howard Roark. He is expelled from the Stanton University of Architecture on the basis that he was a disgrace to the study of architecture. Howard doesn’t even give a damn and goes to New York to begin working with Henry Cameron, a forgotten architect crumbled under the burden of the society who could never understand his modernistic approach to architecture.

Meanwhile a senior of Howard, Peter Keating graduates from the same university and very difficultly decides to work with Guy Francon, New York’s most famous architect. Keating’s character has a particular mindset, he always think what people will make of his every move. While Howard exactly opposite to him, as stubborn as care free to other’s opinions as he can ever be. Yet there is a sense of friendship between both of them which is explained in a unique way by Ayn Rand.


Two very contrasting pictures of the architecture world are presented. Where on one hand we have Guy Francon’s views that people just want to please other people and not themselves. While Henry Cameron believes buildings should be built so that they bring peace to its inhabitant. Nobody understands Cameron’s views but Howard stands by him.

On one side we see how Keating cunningly rises to a good position by being close to Francon and cheating a few of his close associates, we also see how Howard and Cameron face their difficulties but do not deter from their ideology.

It is the power Ayn Rand gives to Howard Roark as he faces barrier after barriers which make it impossible for people to understand his views, his ideals. Also the helplessness Keating faces whenever he meets Howard, he is shown so naturally scared of Howard and tries to bug him down by at times making Howard feel like a loser, a disgrace in everyone’s eye. But Howard who doesn’t think what people make of him, makes Keating even more frightened of Howard.

Just completing part 1 of the story which deals with Peter Keating in majority has been a wonderful read. A deep introspection which tells us how much we care what people make of us and keep on pleasing them instead of pleasing our own selves! Will post a review of Part 2 as soon as I complete it.

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