Preview & Giveaway of The Greville Family Saga: The Passing Bells, Circles of Time, and A Future Arrived, by Phillip Rock

The Passing Bells, by Philip Rock (1980)I love a good mystery. I just didn’t know that I would be so personally engaged in one for over thirty years.

In 1980 a read a book about an aristocratic English family during WWI that I absolutely adored. I was so enthusiastic about it that I promptly loaned it to my best friend who never thought of it again until about a year later when I asked for it back. She had no idea where my copy was. I was devastated. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to write down the title or author. I could only remember that bell was in the title.

Decades passed and the book never left my list of “to find titles.” When Internet search engines and online used book stores became available to me I searched again to no avail. Last month I was perusing the new release table at work and a book title caught my eye. The Passing Bells sounded vaguely familiar so I read the back description and checked the copyright date. “Originally published in 1978.” I stood and stared at the cover in stunned silence. I had found it again. It was a book miracle. After never giving up the search—we had been reunited—and, better yet, it was part of a trilogy! A red letter day all around for this book geek.

I immediately purchased a digital copy for my Nook and commenced reading. Would my endearing memory of the story of the Greville family entrenched in World War I stand up to my ideals so many years later? I was compelled to find out and share my conclusions with you all. I shall chuse to increase your suspense, “according to the usual practice of elegant females” by making you wait for my reviews of the trilogy before I reveal any insights, but here is a preview of each of the novels and a giveaway chance to win one copy of each of the novels compliments of TLC Book Tours and the trilogy’s new publisher William Morrow. Fans of the popular period drama Downton Abbey will see certain similarities and be as captivated as I was.

The Passing Bells, by Philip Rock (2012)The Passing Bells:

The guns of August are rumbling throughout Europe in the summer of 1914, but war has not yet touched Abingdon Pryory. Here, at the grand home of the Greville family, the parties, dances, and romances play on. Alexandra Greville embarks on her debutante season while brother Charles remains hopelessly in love with the beautiful, untitled Lydia Foxe, knowing that his father, the Earl of Stanmore, will never approve of the match. Downstairs the new servant, Ivy, struggles to adjust to the routines of the well-oiled household staff, as the arrival of American cousin Martin Rilke, a Chicago newspaperman, causes a stir.

But, ultimately, the Great War will not be denied, as what begins for the high-bred Grevilles as a glorious adventure soon takes its toll—shattering the household’s tranquillity, crumbling class barriers, and bringing its myriad horrors home.

Circles of Time, by Philip Rock (2012)Circles of Time:

A generation has been lost on the Western Front. The dead have been buried, a harsh peace forged, and the howl of shells replaced by the wail of saxophones as the Jazz Age begins. But ghosts linger—that long-ago golden summer of 1914 tugging at the memory of Martin Rilke and his British cousins, the Grevilles.

From the countess to the chauffeur, the inhabitants of Abingdon Pryory seek to forget the past and adjust their lives to a new era in which old values, social codes, and sexual mores have been irretrievably swept away. Martin Rilke throws himself into reporting, discovering unsettling political currents, as Fenton Wood-Lacy faces exile in faraway army outposts. Back at Abingdon, Charles Greville shows signs of recovery from shell shock and Alexandra is caught up in an unlikely romance. Circles of Time captures the age as these strongly drawn characters experience it, unfolding against England’s most gracious manor house, the steamy nightclubs of London’s Soho, and the despair of Germany caught in the nightmare of anarchy and inflation. Lives are renewed, new loves found, and a future of peace and happiness is glimpsed—for the moment.

A Future Arrived, by Philip Rock (2012)A Future Arrived:

The final installment of the saga of the Grevilles of Abingdon Pryory begins in the early 1930s, as the dizzy gaiety of the Jazz Age comes to a shattering end. What follows is a decade of change and uncertainty, as the younger generation, born during or just after the “war to end all wars,” comes of age.

American writer Martin Rilke has made his journalistic mark, earning worldwide fame with his radio broadcasts, and young Albert Thaxton seeks to follow in his footsteps as a foreign correspondent. Derek Ramsey, born only weeks after his father fell in France, and Colin Ross, a dashing Yankee, leave their schoolboy days behind and enter fighter pilot training as young men. The beautiful Wood-Lacy twins, Jennifer and Victoria, and their passionate younger sister, Kate, strive to forge independent paths, while learning to love—and to let go.

In their heady youth and bittersweet growth to adulthood, they are the future—but the shadows that touched the lives of the generation before are destined to reach out to their own.

Author bio:

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, and The Extraordinary Seaman. He died in 2004.

A GRAND GIVEAWAY

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Passing Bells, Circles of Time, or A Future Arrived, by Phillip Rock by leaving a comment revealing what intrigues you about the series and why it is a must read for Downton Abbey fans. The contest ends on 11:59pm, Wednesday, January 30, 2013. Winners announced on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only please. Good luck.

P.S. We are eternally grateful to the brilliant editor at William Morrow, who by choosing to re-issue this wonderful trilogy, solved my mystery book hunt of 30 years. Our only regret is that author Philip Rock is not with us still to enjoy the revival of his work.

© 2013, Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose  

69 thoughts on “Preview & Giveaway of The Greville Family Saga: The Passing Bells, Circles of Time, and A Future Arrived, by Phillip Rock

  1. I am so glad I found this – I can’t wait to read these! As a hardcore Downton fan I can already tell I will become equally obsessed with this trilogy. The upper class drama paired with the grit and turmoil of the working class – its so intriguing!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  2. I love that time period, especially after watching Downton Abbey. I love the idea of a trilogy set there. Plus the story of you’re being reunited is awesome.

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  3. I have read The Passing Bells I don’t know how many times, since it was one of the few books on the shelf at holiday home where I spent many school breaks growing up. I only just last month learned that it was the first of a trilogy so, obviously, I am intrigued to reread the fondly-remembered first volume and finally find out what happens next!

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  4. I love happy endings especially ones that come from not knowing the title of book and then finding it again! I love Downton Abbey and am obsessed with any fiction from that time period. England on the cusp of change is just so interesting!

    Janelle

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  5. I live in a house that was built in 1912….and for several weeks now, I have been caught up in researching its history and the families who have lived here over the years. Downton Abbey is a favourite of mine….and now I can’t wait to read the trilogy you have rediscovered. The changes over the years in social mores and technology are a fascinating backdrop to both fiction and sleuthing pursuits.
    BB

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  6. I love stories that follow a family over time, especially during this era of tremendous change. Definitely a series I plan to add to my “to read” list! It looks like it has all of the love and drama that has us coming back to Downton Abbey each season. I noticed with the first book it even sounds like a similar set up as the first season of Downton, with a cousin joining the group–only instead of Cousin Matthew it’s an American cousin–which will probably shake things up even more!

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  7. I was never much interested in this time period before I started watching “Downton Abbey,” but I’ve become quite intrigued in watching the series and would love to read more. This trilogy sounds really neat, and I love the idea of following one family and a set of familiar characters through some of the biggest historical landmarks of the last century. It seems like all that I’ve been curious about with Downton (what will happen in the series now that the War is over) seems to be addressed in these books, and whether or not I win the giveaway, I plan to give them a read!

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  8. How exciting for you, to rediscover this wonderful novel. I recently read The Passing Bells, an old mass market paperback copy. When I learned there were two more novels about the family I was thrilled and added the titles to my wish list. I’m a big Downton Abbey fan and love novels with an upstairs/downstairs cast of characters. Would love to win these novels. Thank you for the giveaway.

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  9. Oh this sounds wonderful! I love historical fiction and this time period is somewhat new to me. I would love to read these!

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  10. Confession: I’ve already bought The Passing Bells. It just looks so good! But I’d love to win the whole trilogy, of course. :) Sounds like a perfect read for Downton Abbey fans: same social upheaval, same horrors of war, same aristocrats resisting the downfall of their lifestyle. I’m definitely looking forward to reading it!

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  11. Holy cow! You had me at “an aristocratic English family during WWI.” But then the brief preview of each book only whetted my appetite for more…we only have Downton Abbey for a short seven weeks. It will be a long stretch until season four and this trilogy will help see us through.

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  12. I like how this series of book combines my passion for war novels and Downton Abbey – a truly delectable mix! I’d definitely love to own this series of books.

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  13. My love for family sagas started with reading, then watching THE FORSYTE SAGA and following the Bellamys and their servants in UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS. Elizabeth Jane Howard’s four books about the Cazelet family during WWII were wonderful but apparently never caught the eye of Brit TV. Downton Abbey follows happily in this long tradition of English family stories and I am so glad to learn that I can now read 3 books that parallel the time of UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS and DOWNTON ABBEY. Three family stories about WWI! How informed we will be!

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  14. This trio of books brings to mind a trio of men – Cousin Matthew (Downton), Charles Ryder (Brideshead) and now Martin Rilke. I can’t wait to meet him.

    I just rewatched Downton Abbey, Episode 2. I’m addicted – more, please.

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  15. I’m so glad that you solved your mystery! The Passing Bells sound like my type of book, thanks for the heads-up and the chance to win! :)

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  16. I love historical fiction from the Edwardian era because so many changes were beginning to change society. Lots of fodder for drama!

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  17. Such synchronicity! I just added these books to my TBR list at Goodreads. This time from just prior to WW I through WW II was one of such enormous social, economic and political
    changes that an entirely new world emerged.
    I am fascinated by it.
    Thanks so much for the giveaway.

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  18. I find stories that layer generations really fascinating, like The Forsyte Saga. John Galsworthy was amazing, and I’m sure Philip Rock is, too! I’ve only been able to see the first season of Downton Abbey so far, but I’m so intrigued! I love the fight to keep with tradition against the new ways of life.

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  19. This series in a way reminds me of Downton Abbey and now I can not wait to find out more about this series! I love these kinds of books that are a part of series and you get to visit characters or families again

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  20. I’ve been reading the wonderful Masie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear so am looking forward to more books set in that era.

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  21. The most intriguing aspect of this particular time period in history is the total transformation of English culture from the ancient traditional order to the progressive modern time. Thus my fascination with Downton Abbey.

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  22. Oh, how exciting for you, Laurel Ann! I stumbled upon The Passing Bells in Barnes and Noble last week and bought a digital copy a few days later because I was so intrigued, and I can’t wait to read it. The trilogy will be nice holdover when I’m dying for Series 4 of Downton Abbey! :)

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  23. This wonderful series is captivating. The story, characters and the era is compelling and appeals to me greatly. This period is fascinating since so much is taking place and underlying all of this is the society and their adapting to the changes.

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  24. I would appreciate these novels since British history is something that I have always been interested in. I have been watching Downton since it started and love it. These novels would be a treasure. Many thanks.

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  25. I love this time period in history, and I would be really curious to see how the storyline and characters develop in the books. That’s one of the reasons I love Downton Abbey – even if the storyline gets crazy sometimes, the characters are always fascinating. This book series definitely sounds intriguing!

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  26. First, congratulations on finding a long lost favorite read. I love it when that happens. This trilogy sounds like a good tie in to the 3 seasons of Downton. I have always loved WWI stories and my father had quiet a few of his own but they would have been nothing like these stories of English families. He always admired the “Brits” and the courage they showed during WWI and the terrible loss of his own generation.

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  27. I have never heard of this series – but it sounds intriguing. That is awesome that you were able to find a series that you loved in the past, and even better, that is was back in print again. I definitely have to check this series out. I think it’s a must read as it’s in the same time period as Downton Abbey, involves a grand estate, upstairs & downstairs, and the family of an Earl. All of these reasons make me want to read it, but the fact that you love it puts it even higher on my list.

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  28. I’m a big Downton Abbey fan, so I’d love to read these! I love anything that has an upstairs/downstairs element to it. The rerelease covers are really gorgeous, too. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  29. Oh my, I have been obsessed with Downton Abbey and the upstairs/downstairs drama since I first saw the show. Since then I have really been drawn to books similar to the series. I have always loved historical fiction but I really enjoy this time period because of the lavish, stable lives the gentry were living and how it became forever changed with war. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  30. How wonderful you found the book again after all these years! I’ll have to read it since my friend Ruth is raving about it! And honestly, anything that vividly brings this time period to life will be a great read.

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  31. These books are so timely – due to Downton – but interesting because there was so much change happening at that time. I love that you found this after so much time! And are introducing us to them!!

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  32. Watching DA with my daughter, I commented on how, though they are almost royalty, the ladies of Downton were very limited in their life choices. One of the best parts of the show is seeing the women come in to their own…the time (war changes many things…) was a true period of change for women. I am curious to see if that is portrayed in these novels.

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  34. The chance to read more about this period sounds really good! It’s not a time period I had much interest in before watching Downton Abbey, and I find the social changes and turmoil a great backdrop for characters.

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  35. I am so happy that you were reunited with your beloved book, Laurel Ann. I have never heard of this series but it definitely has caught my attention. It sounds wonderful! Being a huge Downton Abbey fan, I cannot seem to get enough of that time frame. I knew so little about WWI before watching the series. I would love to read this trilogy. Thank you for the giveaway!!=)

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  36. I bought this book years ago during a trip to the UK but I don’t think I ever read it. I’ll have to try and find it and “rediscover” it for myself!!

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  37. This series sounds fantastic! I have never heard of it before but it certainly sounds like my kid of story. WWII epic saga….I would love this! Thanks!

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  38. I missed this tour and every review I see just reinforces the fact that I want to read this series. WW1 fascinates me as a setting and as I just discovered the addiction known as Downton Abbey, I love the Edwardian time period.

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  39. I just kept running into this series everywhere and have always loved this genre even before Downton. Although I am a hige Downton fan. Anything to bring more books of this genre to us I say yay.

    Your review is just another affirmation I have to read these. Confession I purchased CIRCLES OF TIME as that is what a very helpful bookseller said waa the first in the series. But it is not.

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  40. I love anything about this time period. I love seeing the differences between the upper class and the working class, which is a huge reason why I’m such a big fan of Downton Abbey. I hope I can win these books!

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  41. First let me say ‘Thank You’! for informing us of a trilogy we may not have read back in the ’80s.
    I can’t wait to start reading! Books about this era are so welcome because woman gain a significant amount of (reluctant, to many men) recognition. And even some, gain power and wealth. Women of today owe a lot to women of the years in which the books take place.

    These books are a ‘must read’ for Downton Abbey fans because they take place during some of the same years. And it’s always wonderful to read different authors creations of how things may have been back then.

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  42. What intrigues me about the series is the many story lines about almost every character, both upstarirs and downstairs.
    Why it is a must read for Downton Abbey fans – mainly the Austenprose summary of DA because it fills in the cracks and gives insights as to how others interpret the story.

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  43. The time period certainly intrigues me. It was a world on the cusp of dramatic change. And with your recommendation of the text to encourage me, how could I help but desire a peek between the covers?

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  44. What a thrilling literary mystery! The same thing happened to me ages ago with a movie. I just had a memory of the final scene of a woman in medieval garb walking into a castle, and nearly a decade later I stumbled upon the very movie late one night.

    I’m intrigued to read more novels set in the Downton Abbey era. I’m already a fan of Isabel Colgate’s The Shooting Party which takes place before WWI, so I’d very very curious to read more about the aftermath of the war.

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  46. These books and this author are new to me and since I am only reading stories of this era at the moment, I would love to have them. I am a huge Downton fan. Love all things Upstairs/Downstairs. Of course, am also a big fan of Jane Austen.

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  47. I fell in love with the way Downton Abbey depicts the differences, but yet the similarites between the “upstairs” and “downstairs” folks; betrayals, passion, intrigues, and a bit of romance thrown in. As a huge fan of Downton Abbey an the Forsyte Saga, I am really looking forward to this trilogy!

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  51. Pingback: The Passing Bells: Book One of the Greville Family Saga, by Philip Rock – A Review « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

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  54. I feel very lucky to have known author, Phillip Rock, when we were kids in Hollywood High School and I was fortunate to spend time with him and with his family. It was around 1943 and 1944 before he joined the Navy. He was a special human being, even at such a young age.
    I didn’t know about these novels. I will order and read them now.

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