On this 100th anniversary of the Great War (1914-1918), I found myself reading the first book in a trilogy called ThePassing Bells by Phillip Rock. (First publishing in 1978.)
Set in both England and France this story opens during the summer of 1914 when the rumblings of the war to come is evident. Nevertheless, Anthony Greville, 9th Earl of Stanmore and his family continue on with their privileged lives at Abingdon Pryor. Alexandra Greville is embarking on her debutante season and her brother Charles is hopelessly in love with Lydia Foxe, the untitled daughter of an influential businessman. Martin Rilke, a cousin, arrives from America with plans to spend the summer touring England. Little do they know that the very fabric of their lives is about to change forever helped along when many of their servants leave to serve at the front.
This is a moving story with fictional characters interwoven with historical personages and events. The reader is taken from the English manor house into the trenches in France to witness the depredation and misery endured by those who fought. So many brave young men who went “over the top” perhaps to die minutes later, mowed down by machine gun fire as they ran toward the enemy through the mud encrusted landscape. Over 16 million died - 20 million were wounded. A whole generation lost.
Phillip Rock (1927-2004) was born in Hollywood, California. He spent his younger years in England with his family until the blitz of 1940. His adult years were spent in Los Angles.