The Passing Bells

The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock is a novel about World War I. I don’t usually read books with war themes, but this one looked different, and I was right. I found it fascinating. It is the first book in a trilogy about the British upper class Greville family at Abingdon Pryory. Lucky me – there are two more books to dig into! The war is front & centre in this book, but the goings on with the Grevilles and their servants at the Pryory serve to buffer all that nastyness of gaunt soldiers in muddy trenches, mustard gas and shell-shocked veterans with missing limbs. It sounds awful, and it is, but it’s so well written and there’s so much about British society and how the war changes everything that I was compelled to finish the book – even though at times I got confused as to which country was doing what to who. British aristocracy was forever changed by that war. Society women who’d never done a days work in their lives became “sisters” (nurses) tending to the wounded side by side with the downstairs staff who were elevated from pot scrubbing scullery maids, while Anthony Greville, 9th Earl of Stanmore, loses the 25 hunters and jumpers in his stables – the finest in England – to the war effort and… heavens!… is forced to drive his own “motorcar” since all the young, able bodied men are either off serving or have been called upon to aid the war effort in ways they’d never imagined. If you’re addicted to the very popular Downton Abbey TV series – this is a book for you! Immerse yourself in the fascinating story, the saga actually, of Abingdon Pryory and it’s inhabitants. I can’t wait to dig into book #2 Circles of Time. Stay tuned.

Leave a Comment