January 30, 2016

Review: Only Time Will Tell

Only Time Will Tell Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd never read anything by Jeffrey Archer before, but I got a Kindle version of this book for free as a promotional giveaway, and I figured I'd give it a try. I can see why he's such a popular writer -- the prose is simple and effortless, never showy in any way (well, with the exception of the word "crocodile" used twice as a metaphor for a line of professors in procession), and while the writing seems like it has very little physical description in it, it's surprisingly visual, using a sort of shorthand to sketch vivid scenes. It's funny, huge swaths of this book are entirely dialogue, and yet I never lost sight of the characters or their settings. It's very impressive, the tonal ease, realistic characterizations, period settings, and engaging dramas rendered with such apparently elementary, minimalist, direct, unfussy lanaguage.

There's absolutely no barrier to entering this world entirely, and the story inside is human, naturalistic, and lifelike. It's about the childhood, formative years, and education of Harry Clifton and the people who love and support him (and a villain who works against him). This bildungsroman is the first part of an epic fictional biography, and so the ending feels truncated -- it's not a complete novel, really. So I'll have to move on to Part 2.

Somehow the book feels classic in its scope, drama, and storytelling, while contemporary (although relatively conservative) in its simplicity and directness. It's both a strange and oddly familiar undertaking, and I quite enjoyed it.

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