Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ESCAPE TO THE PAST WITH:Circles of Time by Phillip Rock

When I finished The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock, a WWI saga, I knew I had to read the sequel. I fell in love with the Greville family and their friends and was pleased to learn that the author had continued the tale into the years between the wars.

Blandest cover ever
Circles of Time begins in 1921. (I thought this was an interesting coincidence, having just finished Crossing on the Paris by Dana Gynther, also set in 1921.) One of the protagonists, Martin Rilke, an American cousin, who had risen to prominence as a war correspondent, now returns to England to act as bureau chief for an international news corporation.

Martin meets up with his old friends. These include Fenton Wood-Lacy, a young colonel who had not been afraid to speak the truth about the war and is now being punished for it, and Charles Greville, heir to the earl of Stanmore, an honorable soldier and commander that the war has left shell-shocked, unaware even of his own identity. The beautiful Greville daughter, Alexandra, has also returned, now a widow with a young son. The characters so familiar from The Passing Bells have all grown and changed since the war, yet they are still fundamentally the same. Circles of Time shows how they pick up the pieces and move on with their lives.

Times have changed. Morals have definitely loosened from pre-war behaviors. New music and new drinks have swept across the Atlantic from the U.S.. There are also bitter and divisive politics to contend with both in England and in Germany. In fact, Martin’s role as a journalist and Fenton’s posting to Iraq demonstrate how fragile a peace the war has left them.

Life goes on. In Phillip Rock’s inter-generational saga, it is easy to get caught up in multiple interwoven lives that do keep marching forward through the fascinating events of the history of the times. Although this book seems to skim a little bit more lightly over the surface than did The Passing Bells, it still had an emotional impact. I’m not sure though, that I would have cared about the people in this book so much if I hadn’t met them previously in book one. I’d recommend reading that one first. The characters remain compelling and the history lessons are varied and fascinating. I'm going to have to seek out the third book in the series because I'm still curious about the future of this fictional family.