Review: Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles #1) ~ Jeffrey Archer

Time will tellThe epic tale of Harry Clifton’s life begins in 1920, with the words “I was told that my father was killed in the war.” A dock worker in Bristol, Harry never knew his father, but he learns about life on the docks from his uncle, who expects Harry to join him at the shipyard once he’s left school. But then an unexpected gift wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys’ school, and his life will never be the same again.

As he enters into adulthood, Harry finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth only leads him to question, was he even his father? Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore who spent his whole life on the docks, or the firstborn son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line?

This introductory novel in Archer’s ambitious series The Clifton Chronicles includes a cast of colorful characters and takes us from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry must decide whether to take up a place at Oxford or join the navy and go to war with Hitler’s Germany. From the docks of working-class England to the bustling streets of 1940 New York City, Only Time Will Tell takes readers on a journey through to future volumes, which will bring to life one hundred years of recent history to reveal a family story that neither the reader nor Harry Clifton himself could ever have imagined.

2 Thumbs-UpThe problem with Authors as well-known as this one is that the reader expects a certain quality of writing, character development and top-notch editing and proof-reading.   In this novel which is the first in a series, he manages to reach those expectations, but falls horribly short in others.  I’ve never been an ardent fan of his works as a whole, but have found some to be fairly enjoyable to read, so I was not going into this with any preconceived notion as to which side of the fence this one would fall.

As always his characters are well-developed and thought out, even though, in some instances, a little insipid and naive for my tastes.  Covering varying families as it does, each one has their main protagonist telling the family story and this led to a feeling of the whole thing being a smidge disjointed in some areas.  As well as the characters were written, there were none that I felt I could really connect with and, over time I was just wanting something to happen that would wake them all up.  The saving grace in the character area was the writing of the mentorship between two of the males; it was written sensitively and with a real life feel about it, that actually made me smile a little when the fruit of all that time spent ripened.

The style of this book is very easy to read, but again not overly engrossing; it is definitely a book a reader could put down and walk away from for a few hours without feeling a sense of guild or loss at doing so.  If you are looking for a nice tidy ending, this is probably not the book you should be reading, as the twist in the story at the end is so distant from the start of the book that it can only lead the reader to the conclusion that this is just the beginning of a saga.

If you are looking for an easy to read book, that does not try the mint too much, or a saga to carry you through the summer then this is probably for you.  Unfortunately, for me, I feel that this will be the last time I read anything by this Author.

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Summer Is Coming.

Summer

June heralds, for many of us, the beginning of the lazy days of summer.  School is out; the sun is shining, hopefully, and we all head out on vacation.  June is also a big month for the Book Nut Hut as it will be celebrating its first birthday on the 17th, and yes I will be making cake and wearing a party hat!

Rather than flood everyone’s inbox with book review and article emails for the summer, after all I would rather be out catching the rays than reading my email, I’m going to take this time to revamp the site ready for the book reading months of autumn and winter.  In preparation for this revamp, and starting on Monday, May 5th I will only be posting to the site three days a week; Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Some weeks these may all be reviews, other weeks they may be a mixture of literary titbits, poetry and reviews depending on how the mood takes me.

I would also like to extend an opportunity to those who have followed the Book Nut Hut over the past year.  I would like to feature a guest review, once a month from you starting on the 17th June.  If you would like to participate in this, contact me with your details and we will take it from there.

Thank you all for the support you have given me over this past year and here’s to an even brighter second year.

Have a wonderful summer. Now where did I put my flip flops?

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Review: Dark Paradise ~ Robert Macklin

dark paradiseNorfolk Island isolation, savagery, mystery and murder.

Aren’t remote South Pacific islands supposed to be paradise? Perhaps, from a distance, Norfolk Island looks a peaceful place lush with tall pines. But look closer and that idyllic facade is shattered.

For all of the 220 years we have known it, Norfolk s story has been one of darkness, pain, rage and horror. Long-buried bones and axes hint at the violence before Captain Cook arrived and claimed the place for England. And then the horror truly began. From its earliest days, the isolation of life on this rocky outcrop took its toll.

Robert Macklin, author of the bestselling SAS SNIPER, tells the vivid, bewitching story of how a unique lifestyle and culture evolved amongst the almost two thousand inhabitants. From a brutal penal colony, a refuge for descendants of the Bounty mutineers when they outgrew Pitcairn Island in 1856, to the murder of Janelle Patton in 2002, Norfolk Island is exposed like never before. A place full of shadows and wrongful deaths, its history is a mesmerising tale all the more powerful because it is true.

I have to tell you, Satan lives here. Norfolk Island resident to the author, 2011.

1 Thumbs-UpOh dear.  I was so looking forward to sitting down and soaking up an intriguing and interesting read when I read the synopsis for this book and, unfortunately I was sorely disappointed.

It was not an immediate disappointment, it was one that gradually crept up as I progressed through the book, and took the form of some major factual errors which most readers will pick up the minute they come across them.  The result of these were that I felt this Author had not done as much research into their topic as they possible could before putting the words on paper, and from this point onwards for me it rather invalidated any other point they were trying to make.  Yes, the location was part of the British Empire, and yes it was originally used by them as a penal colony; the Author could get this facts correct, what happened with the glaringly incorrect ones?  If ever a book spiralled out of control in the worse possible way, this has to be that book.

In a book of this kind, much could have been gained, and an extra dimension added by including some by including some documented narrative from actual Islanders themselves as to the events covered, unfortunately this was not the case and resulted, in my opinion in a rather flat, one-dimensional piece of work.  There were so many avenues of research that could have been followed, and were left ignored in the favour of the violence and abuse that took place, which resulted in this being a rather dull read.  Another plus that this book could really have used were the skills of an excellent proof reader and a bold editor, there were so many bad typos in this book that, at one point I was beginning to think that somehow the unedited copy had made it into print instead of the finished piece of work; even the synopsis on the back of my library loan had typos, maybe I should have heeded this subliminal warning and left the book on the shelf.  If you are interested in the history of Norfolk Island, this book is worth reading to a point, and that point is that it should not be read as an only source on the subject but in conjunction with other, better researched pieces.

I find, with this book, I cannot recommend it to anyone with a clear conscience, and based on this piece of work I doubt I will read any other works by this Author.

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