Friday, March 8, 2013

A Future Arrived by Phillip Rock

A Future Arrived by Phillip Rock
Published by William Morrow ISBN 978-0-06-222935-9
Trade paperback, $14.99, 450 pages

I'm still going through Downton Abbey withdrawal, but the trilogy of novels set in Abingdon Pryory by Phillip Rock have helped me get through it. But now that has ended too. Sigh.

I just finished the third and final novel, A Future Arrived, which takes us from one generation to another just before WWII. Having already seen these characters through the horror of WWI in The Passing Bells, I was glad to see that Rock didn't repeat himself in this last novel.

A Future Arrived deals mostly with the next generation- Ivy's brother Albert, who follows in his brother-in-law Martin's footsteps as a foreign and war correspondent, Colin, Alex's son who leaves America to become a pilot for Britain,  and Colin's friend Derek, who attended Charles' private school and joins Colin as a pilot in the war.

The women are represented by Fenton and Winnie's girls- twins Jennifer and Victoria and youngest daughter Kate, some of whom become romantically entangled with the above mentioned fellows, and involved with the war and anti-war efforts.

I liked seeing how these children grew into adults, but I did miss my old friends- Alex and Charles in particular. They do not play much of a role here, but the book would have been easily 1000 pages if Rock were to give all of his previous characters a bigger role.

The girls learned well from their mother Winnie who, although she wished her husband hadn't devoted his career to the military, understood that she fell in love with a soldier, and if she wanted to remain married to him she would have to accept all that comes with that.

Colin and Derek's war experiences are much different from Charles and Fenton's during WWI. WWI was fought in the trenches, up close and personal. As pilots, Colin and Derek saw war from farther away, although Rock writes a few harrowing scenes as the men come into combat contact with the Germans in the air that had me white-knuckled as I read them.

The British were more reluctant to go to war again after their WWI experiences; we see how Chamberlain and Parliament appeased Hitler, willing to ignore Germany's movements into other sovereign nations. It wasn't until Hitler began bombing England that Britain faced facts and fought back.

One thing I liked in particular about this book was the fact that it brought me back to history class; there were so many references to things I had learned- the problems between China and Japan, Mussolini's rise, Haile Selassie, Francisco Franco- it sent me to Google to refresh my memories.

I also liked that Rock showed us how Martin's live radio reports changed how people thought. Once they could hear the sounds of war for themselves, what was happening could no longer be ignored. A similar thing happened when TV reporters showed us the Vietnam War as it was happening; people could see for themselves and no longer believed only what the government told them was going on.

Just like Downton Abbey, we have a large estate, many characters from different classes, romance and sprawling storylines. It also reminded me of John Jakes' North & South books, using war as a backdrop to tell an epic story with fascinating characters. If you miss Downton, Abingdon Pryory is the next best place to be.

rating 4 of 5

My review of book one- The Passing Bells
My review of book two- Circles of Time
BookClubGirl's Read-Along of the trilogy is here


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