Circles of Time by Phillip Rock

Title: Circles of Time
Author: Phillip Rock

Genre: Fiction (Historical / UK / 192s / post-WWI / Country Estate / Social Class / Family Saga / PTSD / Journalism / Marriage)
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow Paperbacks (1/2/2013)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loooooooooooooooooooooooooooved.
Did I finish?: Yep.
One-sentence summary: Following World War I, the residents of Abingdon Pryory, their employees, and their friends come to terms with the changing world of post-War Britian.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- stunning. While I know they're just ambiance shots, I did mentally decide what couple it represented, and was satisfied.

I'm reminded of...: Anya Seton

First line: He drove up to Flanders in the early summer of 1921 knowing that it would be for the last time.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, but start with Book One and have Book Three on hand to immediately begin!

Why did I get this book?: The cover, the setting, the era (and of course, wanting to continue the story from The Passing Bells

Review: I really haven't been able to breath since starting these books, the three novels that make up Philip Rock's Passing Bells trilogy. I am in serious love.  (See my review of the first book for the start of my swooning fit.)

This book has a much tighter time span -- 1921 to 1923 -- and starts a year after the first book ends. Life in Britain has changed: the 'Jazz Age' has dawned, and the public starts to accept a more open discussion of the events of World War I. Rock covers an array of details in this novel as in the first book; here, we learn about the development of engines for jet planes and the growing Fascist presence in Britain.

A good deal -- but not all -- of the characters from the first book return. As in life, some of the characters have come to terms with the losses from the war, while others are still in denial about it. Beautiful Alexandra, no longer flighty and superficial, must be married, according to her mother -- but the war decimated the population of marriageable men. Four members of the Abingdon Pryory staff were killed in the war, and what staff are there are new, men too old to have served. Chauffer Jamie is now a successful engineer, and Martin still travels Europe, reporting on the shifting political landscapes. (Rock has really honed in on his American journalist, Martin Rilke, as the main character of this saga, which kind of disappoints me because he's not my favorite. Which isn't to say he's not interesting or anything, but I'm far more fond of the women and their challenges.)

Oddly, even though the page count is similar to the first book, I feel like I saw 'less' of the characters than I did in The Passing Bells. Perhaps it's because Rock has narrowed his focus a little, keeping an eye on Martin, with the rest of the characters circling around that plot arc.  (I'm hesitant to squee or wail about specific characters for fear of spoiling the story for anyone, so I apologize if this review seems super vague!)

Rock still has the habit of having some major events happen 'off the page', so to speak; we only learn of it when a character mentions it in passing.  Which isn't to say the reader is denied emotion and drama -- that's to be found here, although less gutting than in the first book -- as we hurtle toward the 1930s, World War II, and a shifting focus from the parents to their children.

This could possibly be read as a standalone -- Rock recapped characters and plot quite frequently, which surprised me given that originally there had been only a year between the publishing of the first and second book.  (Rock took four years between this book and the final book in the trilogy.)   Still, for maximum oomph, pick up The Passing Bells before this one, and have a weekend, lots of tea, and tissues handy.

*** *** ***

GIVEAWAY!

I'm thrilled to offer all three books of The Passing Bells trilogy -- made up of The Passing Bells, Circles of Time, and A Future Arrived -- to one lucky reader!

To enter, please be a follower on Twitter, Facebook, or via Google Friends Connect. You can let me know how you follow on this form. Ends 3/1, open to US and Canadian readers.

For another entry, be sure to see my review of the first book, The Passing Bells and my review of A Future Arrived.

Comments

  1. Oooh, I love the cover on this, and I am absolutely, positively ready to pick this up as soon as possible. It's supposed to rain all weekend, so maybe I'll see if I can track these down.

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    1. We're getting snow so I need to find a good chunkster for when I'm locked in once again! I'd read these if I hadn't just finished!

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  2. I'm thrilled to be entering this giveaway! I would love to read the historical fiction trilogy.

    harvee44@yahoo.com

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  3. I just bought The Passing Bells, and can't wait to get started with it. I think it was your review that got me to rush right out and get it, come to think of it! I would love to see how the rest of the saga goes, so I will definitely be reading book two and three when I can. I am so glad that you loved this one, and that the series continues to impress!

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    1. Oh, Heather, you're in for such a treat!!!

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  4. I'm trying not to think Downton, because although it has elements that are similar (from reading the summary at least) it's not really the same. It sounds brilliant, and although I've not read Anya Seton's work I know she's popular so that's a recommendation. I like the way you talk of a shift at the end, the characters changing as the time goes on.

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    1. Charlie, Rock is really great at having the characters adapt -- at one point, Lord Stanmore, the patriarch of it all, admits after his first trip in an airplane that seeing the world like that requires one to change how they think (and he adjusts one cold belief that he previously had been inflexible about) -- one of the many little signs of change that happen in the novel.

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  5. Wow, you've convinced me I need to read this series!

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  6. Email follower.this series just my thing.

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  7. I hope to get to this one really, really soon, especially now that I've read your wonderful review!

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  8. I've been so obsessed with this time period recently - probably because of Downton Abbey. But I hardly need a reason to read a book you loved that much!

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    1. :) EXACTLY. I think they'd make a good fix AND are just generally super awesome!

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  9. I've seen this author and the reviews on many, many blogs this last month. The books sound very good.

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    1. This series is, I think, worth the hype!

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  10. I picked up the first book a while back and I think it was because of you on Facebook wasn't it. I really need to make time to read it! I love series like this that make you want to jump into the next book right away.

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    1. Darlene, I'm so glad you grabbed it!! Start on a weekend or when you can ignore the world -- you won't want to put it down!

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  11. These books seem to be getting so much praise right now. I will have to get these from Anna, if I don't win them in your giveaway, which I've been waiting for...since forever!

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  12. This sounds like a must read for me... just the thing to read while waiting for Downton Abbey season 4!

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  13. I loved, loved, loved this book, too!

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  14. I CAN.NOT.WAIT to read this series! I love this time period and these books are getting absolutely amazing reviews. I'm definitely missing out!

    Thanks for being on the tour Audra. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

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  15. What an amazing series! I'm sure I'll be getting to it soon -- I just watched the first episode of Downton Abbey and am hooked! It took me a long time to watch that first episode because I always feel like I need to be doing something while I watch TV (crafting, knitting, etc), but I finally had a day where I really felt like I deserved some devoted TV time. Boy, I enjoyed it!

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