Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock

Publisher: William Morrow
Released: Reprinted 2012
Pages: 544
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Amazon:

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.


I’m sorry about the Amazon description; I read this book in early December and struggled with writing my own synopsis. The Passing Bells is the first in a trilogy, first published in 1970- with the popularity of Downton Abbey, these novels have been re-released. If you’re a Downton fan, I think these would be appeal to you.

The Passing Bells takes place in the cusp of the First World War. Readers will recognize the generation who are adamant about tradition, and a new generation who are more progressive. Charles is hopelessly in love with Lydia, but his parents will not accept her. She comes from a wealthy family, but doesn't have a title. Charles’s sister is soaking up experience of her debut. Captain Fenton, a family friend visits for the weekend and he’s looking for a wealthy wife to bail him out of this troubles. Winifred, the daughter of the Marquees of Dexford is also visiting and hoping to win Charles’s affection. Similarly to Downton, readers are introduced to the servants and their dynamic in the household. Once the war encroaches on their lives, they are forever changed.

I really enjoyed The Passing Bells, but I found the characters a little hard to keep track of. There seemed to be a lot of names and a lot of titles. The overall story really kept me reading, and enjoying the book.


  1. Glad you enjoyed the book in spite of confusing names and titles. Too many names introduced at the beginning does bother me in books too.

  2. I recently won this book. I'm hoping that all the characters won't faze me!!!

  3. I do love Downton Abbey so I think I will enjoy this one. Thanks for letting me know about it!

  4. I have started to avoid even looking at publisher summaries before writing a review, because it's so darn hard to resist using them! :--) I envy their summarizing skills!

  5. I've never seen Downton, but I do like to read about that time period so this sounds good to me.

  6. I love Downton Abbey, and have been waiting to start the second season. Now that the third is out, I am going for it!! I also have this book, and think it would make for an excellent weekend read. I am also interested in the rest of the series!

  7. Glad to see you enjoyed this one, too. I have book two waiting patiently on my shelf and I hope I'm able to get to it very soon.

  8. I've been wanting to read this series and all the reviews I see are great.

  9. I think I would enjoy this one, although sometimes I also have a hard time keeping track of multiple character stories.

  10. I loved this book, and the second one was really good, too. I just started the last book. I think it's hard to put this one into words because it really is an epic novel that cover so much. I think it's easier to follow the second book because there are fewer characters to track, in my opinion.