About the Book:
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reissue edition (December 4, 2012)
About the Author:
Born in Hollywood, California, Phillip Rock lived in England with his family until the blitz of 1940. He spent his adult years in Los Angeles and published three novels before the Passing Bells series: Flickers, The Dead in Guanajuato, andThe Extraordinary Seaman. He died in 2004.
The advent of Downton Abbey has brought WWI English history to a new level of popularity. I will admit here and now that I have never seen an episode of the show. I think I am the last person on the face of the Earth…. That being said I am glad that it led to the re-release of this trilogy of books purported to be similar to the show. I can’t write to that for the obvious reasons but I can tell you that The Passing Bells is book worth reading whether you watch BBC television shows or not.
There are two sets of players as you would expect – the Grevilles who are the owners of Abingdon Pryory and their friends and the staff of the Pryory. According to England’s long standing societal traditions – at least up until this point in history – never the twain shall meet. The cast of characters is a bit extensive but they are easy to keep track of once you meet them all. Mr. Rock does a great job of introducing them into the story so the reader gets a feeling for their personalities. All is right in both worlds of Abingdon Pryory until the Great War rears its ugly head and impacts each member of Upstairs and Downstairs in some way. Lines that were never crossed in the past are suddenly broken and new rules are being written.
The book was written in the early ’70s and actually reads as if from an even earlier time. I liked that. The characters are well rounded and the descriptions of place and time are dead on. When the book switches to France for the war the battle scenes do not make for easy reading (when is war ever easy?) but it is the focus for everyone at the time. No one comes through unscathed and how each character – those that survive, this is war after all – must now learn to live in a new world.
I found myself quite enthralled, entranced and engrossed in the lives and loves of the people of Abingdon Pryory. It’s a world I am looking forward to revisiting in the next two books of the trilogy.
You can see the Phillip Rock Tour Schedule for all three books in his Greville/Rilke Family trilogy
You can purchase The Passing Bells on Amazon.com
You can purchase Circles of Time on Amazon.com
You can purchase A Future Arrived on Amazon.com
Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of The Passings Bells by TLC Book Tours for my honest review. I received no compensation for this post.