Review: The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock
Author: Phillip Rock
Publisher: William Morrow
Published: December 4, 2012
Paperback, 516 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Available @ Amazon | B&N
Before Downton Abbey, there was Abingdon Pryory, the elegant country home of the Grevilles—a titled English family who, along with their servants, see their world turned upside down when England goes to war. Once their well-kept lawns and whirling social seasons give way to the horrors of World War I, no one, upstairs or downstairs, is left untouched. For fans of sweeping historical fiction, the reissue of Phillip Rock's New York Times bestseller The Passing Bells is a breathtaking family saga not to be missed.
I read The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock as part of a read-along. I was drawn to the book because I love Downton Abbey, and this book is set around the same time period. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting this book to be like, maybe more romantic than anything, but it was different than I imagined. The Passing Bells focuses on the Grevilles family, not only the immediate family but also the household staff. When War is declared the household breaks apart and goes in different directions to do their patriotic duty. I love how Rock not only explores the divide of classes, but also shows how this time period dissolved the line between the two. I also liked how Rock didn't romanticize the war. He didn't hide the horrors of it, or how it changed those who were affected by it.
The Passing Bells has a large cast of characters. There were a few moments when reading this book that I lost track of who was whom. However Rock does focus on certain characters more than others. This helped me keep track more easily of the main characters. I really liked how he portrayed the relationships between the characters. While there was romance there was also practicality in relationships as well. Not everyone married for love, some married for status or out of necessity.
Overall I enjoyed reading the first book in this trilogy. It was different from what I expected, but pleasant none the less. I'm really enjoying reading about this time period. I do think that fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy and appreciate this book.