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Circles of Time

(Passing Bells #2)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  806 ratings  ·  94 reviews
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
Paperback, 425 pages
Published January 2nd 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published July 28th 1981)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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Circles in Time begins in 1921, continuing the story of American journalist Martin Rilke and the Grevilles of Abingdon Pryory. The Great War might be over, although not everyone came home (sniff!). The world as they knew it is forever changed, social barriers between the elite and the working class are breaking down. The great estates are suffering from years of neglect, and even if one does have the money to restore them, where do you get the staff to keep them running?

I really don't want to
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Wanda, Kim
THis is the second book of the Passing Bells series.

This is the story of Martin Rilke, a Chicago journalist and his British cousins, the Greevilles, who live in Abingdon Pryory.

After the end of World War I, some characters must face their beloved lost during the Great War as well as to recover from acute shell shock.

A momentary feeling of peace and happiness occurs but the economical and political German situation doesn't bring the expected optimism: the inflation is quite high, there is lack of
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
While the "war to end all wars" came to its official conclusion in 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, two years later the effect of that devastating conflict is still to be found rippling through the lives of the survivors. American Martin Rilke, who gained worldwide acclaim for his dispatches from the frontlines, returns to London to work as a news bureau chief -- but leaves a piece of his heart buried forever in a Flanders grave. His Greville cousins have their own wartime ...more
After re-discovering The Passing Bells – after a thirty year estrangement – I was thrilled to learn there were two more books in the Greville Family Saga. Originally published between 1978 – 1986, this welcome reissue of the trilogy by William Morrow Books is just in time for fans of the popular television series Downton Abbey to plunge back into the era between the wars and cocoon themselves in history, drama and romance.

Set in England during 1921 – 1923, Circles of Time opens two years after
Sarah u
Sequels are a tricky business, I think. They are either a delight to read, just like catching up with old friends, or they are a disappointment.

Circles of Time by Phillip Rock follows on from The Passing Bells, a book I read last spring and completely fell in love with. The books tell the story of the aristocratic Greville family; the earl and countess of Stanmore, their children Charles, William and Alexandra; several family friends including the Wood-Lacys; their staff and finally the
Feb 26, 2013 added it
For fans of Downton Abbey going through withdrawal, the rerelease of Phillip Rock's Abingdon Pryory trilogy is a welcome relief. The first novel, The Passing Bells, introduced us to the Greville family, owners of Abingdon Pryory, which is very similar to Downton. Sir Anthony has the title and his German-American wife Hannah has the money.

The first novel took us deep into WWI- the politics of war, the horrors of the fighting, the loss of vibrant young men and women. The second novel, Circles of
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
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
Katie Mech
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another Greville book done and I'm still in awe of this series. I didn't quite love the 2nd book as much as the first, but it's still very much a 5 star book.

As a Downton Abbey fan, I keep reading this and saying, "Good lord, were the creators of Downtown inspired by the Grevilles?" It certainly seems that way. But I wouldn't say this book smacks of was around well before, and is so, so much better.

I love the characters in this series. From the Grevilles to Fenton to Martin to
Bev Walkling
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, war
I picked this book up at a second hand book store because of the cover picture and back cover description. I ave a fascination in the Great War and World War 2 and the description made it evident that the era between these wars would provide the subject matter of the book. The front cover says: " A new chapter in the unforgettable saga that began with the national best-seller THE PASSING BELLS" Clearly this book was the second in a series and I usually hesitate to start a series part way ...more
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
In volume two of a trilogy, the aftermath of World War I is explored as our characters move through a changing world order and the end of an era in Great Britain of the great morality and and the order of wealthy and titled.
Here we also get a glimpse at the Weimar Republic and the beginnings of the rise in Nazism.
A enjoyable historical novel.
With this written so many years ago I find that these first two books were a road map for the writers of Downton Abbey.
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Even better than book 1, particularly in its depiction of Germany between the two world wars. I enjoyed seeing the adult lives of the Greville siblings and the continuing story of their American cousin, Martin Rilke.
Fantastic read - this was written in the early 80s and the writing is spare and the characters are deeply developed - my favorite type of novel. Can't wait for the third book in the trilogy but must read Z (Zelda Fitzgerald) first for a book club.
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Due to some complications with the shipping of the second and third books in this series, my tour dates got pushed back. As such it has been over a month since I read The Passing Bells. That's enough time for a lot of the little details to go rushing out of my head. Thankfully, who was who came back quite quickly. Circles of Time is just as enjoyable, both from a family drama perspective and a historical perspective as the first book in the series.

Fiction set during WWI and WWII abounds, but
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The war to end all wars has finally come to an end and with it comes great change. For the Grevilles, though, it does mean something of a return to normalcy: Abingdon Pryory will soon be returned to its former glory and Lord Stanmore is anxious to return to the country estate. Alexandra, now widowed and with a young son in tow, has returned from overseas but there's tension between her and her father. Charles also has returned and is showing marked improvement. Meanwhile, Martin has taken a ...more
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Circles of Time is the second book in The Passing Bells Trilogy. This book picks up a few years after the end of WWI as each of the characters the reader met in the first book struggles to adjust to life in a world turned upside down by a war that killed millions.

Abingdon Pryory is being rebuilt by Lord Greville exactly as it was before the war. He plans to move back there once the renovations are done despite the fact that Lady Greville does not seem as anxious to move back to the country and
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: war-time, romance
Circles of Time, the second novel in Phillip Rock's "Passing Bells" series, brings us back to the Greville family and their life post WWI. The world is evolving and great change is coming, yet the Earl of Stanmore wishes for the simpler times of the past.

Charles, the Earl's first born son and heir to the family estate, is suffering from severe PTSD that has caused him to withdraw and become noncommunicable. Hidden away in home up in Wales it becomes easy for the rest of the Greville family to
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel follows the main characters of the series in the years 1921-23. It begins with a shock. Ivy Thaxton Rilke died in the last gasps of the war. Martin Rilke is finally putting his life on track, and he is at the pinnacle of his career. Charles Greville is still locked away and Fenton Wood-Lacy is having to face the dire consequences of his actions at the end of The Passing Bells. Alexandra is back in England with a baby son and William Greville and his parents are not adjusting well to ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Circles of Time is the sequel to The Passing Bells. I have to say that I like this book just as much, if not more, than the first. The war is over and now begins the reconstruction not only of building, but also of lives. "The horizons have been expanded" in every direction. The line that divided the classes no longer existed. This is one of the major themes of this book: Exploring this new age. Once again the book focuses on Martin. He's from Chicago, but spent many years during the war as a ...more
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gilded-fiction
Having enjoyed The Passing Bells, I was excited to read Circles of Time and wasn't surprised to find out that I enjoyed it even more than the first book. In the aftermath of the first world war the individual thoughts and motives of the characters deepened and my appreciation for them as unique people grew. I especially delighted in the nurturing yet unapologetic Winifred Wood-Lacy - woman, mother, pacifist, soldier's wife.

The heavy backdrop of war and death, present in the first novel, was
Alicia Prevost
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh how I love this series!

My one issue with the first book was that it started a little too slowly but definitely wasn't a problem with this one. It was right into the action, life going on after the war and things getting more normal. Or well new normal, I guess.

I'm not even sure what to say about this book that I didn't say about the first one. The brilliance of it is the ensemble of characters and all the ways it shows the different ways people are moving on and recovering after the war.
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The second in the fabulous Abingdon Pryory series written in the 1980's. Downton Abby's primary source, for certain, there is even a chauffeur who transcends his station to marry one of the family's daughters. This volume mainly tells the tale of American reporter cousin Martin Rilke who writes a scathing tell all about life in the trenches during the war that has just ended (and which most are trying to forget) and bad leadership in the British army that cost lives. He answers for that with ...more
Dec 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
this was a good coda to the lives of the people we met in The Passing Bells. Everyone finds their own way to cope with the horrors of the war, and everyone gets a happy ending.

Though it's the last part that irritated me; when you have a large group of characters, why is everyone happy and rich at the end? It felt like each group had been blessed with the authorial fairy wand of being able to observe the torments of the world, but not be harmed by them. It gave the story a very off feel by the
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second book in the Passing Bells series is just as good as the first! It continues the story of the aristocratic Greville family and their family and friends in post-WW1 Britain. They like the rest of of British society are struggling with all the changes in the modern Britain in industry, society and politics. Rock writes with engaged prose and makes even the dryer passages enthralling. who knew I could be interested in British military strategy in 1920s Iraq? The characters are smart and ...more
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I watched the first season of Downtown Abbey, I turned to my husband on more than one occasion and said "hmm, this seems lifted from 'Passing Bells' - a book I'd read, loved and lost in the early 90s and my husband tracked down for me in hardcover. One of my fav comfort reads.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to read the sequel (and even more amazed to find out that part of the story moved to my very not British hometown). And, like so many sequels, it didn't have the punch of the first story.
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Abington Pryory saga continues! The story picks up shortly after WWI, and finds each of our characters recovering form the war in different ways. Life has significantly changed, and the old world of parties, servants, and defined class roles are gone. As the younger generation begins to change daily life, the older one starts to, reluctantly, adapt to this new way of thinking. The depth of despair and ruin of Germany is explored - and knowing the fate of the country comes as no surprise. ...more
Katie Lawrence
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it
It was fun to return to the Passing Bells characters and see where life took them next! I did not love this sequel as much as I had loved the original, but it was still a solid historical fiction read. I really enjoy reading about Martin and his experiences with reporting during and after WWI and I thought his experiences in Germany were compelling in this book. I did find some of the drama in Circles of Time to be a bit unbelievable... although I suppose the drama in Downton Abbey is sometimes ...more
Ann Boytim
The family of Grevilles are rebuilding the family home after the home has been occupied during the war. The family has one son who has been in a shell shocked state and is in a hospital, their daughter is now home after a marriage and death of her husband and has a young son but this daughter is not in favor with her father who disapproved of the marriage. Different eras and different times when upper class still rules but changes are about to happen. The one son finally comes home and another ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 2nd book in the Greville family saga, billed as being similar to Downton Abbey in timeframe and addressing class issues. I liked this one better than the 1st book in the series. In the first book, I commented that I didn't like the characters. But the ones who have survived to the 2nd book are the nicer ones, so that's better. This books ends with Hitler's 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. There is one more book in this series, which I'm guessing will deal with the rising Nazi movement. Not a ...more
Gilda Felt
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Picking up two years after the first novel, his second book in the series seems faster pace than its predecessor, which could be because these are people you already know. You’re invested in their happiness, and rejoice when it comes their way. But times they are a-changing, and some find those changes easier to handle than others.

Yet the clouds of fascism are gathering, and any happiness may be transitory. I can’t wait to read the third book to find out how much the gathering storm will effect
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Phillip George Rock was born in Los Angeles on 30 July 1927. He grew up in Beverly Hills and England, returned to America in 1940, and served in the U.S. Navy towards the end of World War II.

His first on-screen credit was for Escape from Fort Bravo (1953), directed by John Sturges and starring William Holden and Eleanor Parker. Rock then concentrated on writing novels and, in 1967, published his

Other books in the series

Passing Bells (3 books)
  • The Passing Bells (Passing Bells, #1)
  • A Future Arrived (Passing Bells, #3)