August 30, 2013

The End of an Age

A Future Arrived by Phillip Rock

Release Date: February 2013 (Originally February 1985)
Publisher: HarperCollins | William Morrow
Pages: 450 pages
Series: Greville Family Saga #3
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
The final installment of the saga of the Grevilles of Abingdon Pryory begins in the early 1930s, as the dizzy gaiety of the Jazz Age comes to a shattering end. What follows is a decade of change and uncertainty, as the younger generation, born during or just after the "war to end all wars," comes of age.

American writer Martin Rilke has made his journalistic mark, earning worldwide fame with his radio broadcasts, and young Albert Thaxton seeks to follow in his footsteps as a foreign correspondent. Derek Ramsey, born only weeks after his father fell in France, and Colin Ross, a dashing Yankee, leave their schoolboy days behind and enter fight pilot training as young men. The beautiful Wood-Lacy twins, Jennifer and Victoria, and their passionate younger sister, Kate, strive to forge independent paths, while learning to love - and to let go.

In their heady youth and bittersweet growth to adulthood, they are the future - but the shadows that touched the lives of the generation before are destined to reach out to their own.

Thoughts on A Future Arrived
The Greville family saga finally comes to a close in A Future Arrived. After really enjoying the first two books, I was looking forward to seeing how this family's journey would end. I was sad to say goodbye, but I was excited to see where Rock would take his characters. Although I did like this book, it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Rather than focus on the characters that readers have already come to know and love, Rock spends almost the entire book devoted to the children of the younger generation of Grevilles and Wood-Lacys. So instead of seeing more from Alexandra, we are introduced to her son, Colin. The Wood-Lacy twins, Ivy's brother Albert, a young student at Charles' school... It's a whole new cast of characters!

What was a bit frustrating for me is that Rock doesn't actually drop the older characters completely, so you end up reading about an even larger group of people. Because of that, there is a ton of information covered in a really brief amount of time. I also didn't feel as strong of a connection to the younger characters, and I think it's in large part due to the fact that we've just fast forwarded and jumped into their lives. While I definitely still liked them all, it did leave the book feeling a little off in some respects.

There is also a rather large time jump in A Future Arrived - it opens in 1930 but then shifts to 1938-1940. It wasn't confusing, but it did seem a little more disjointed than the previous books. I think there was also this sense that Rock really wanted to cover the historical aspect, so he occasionally let the characters fall to the wayside in order to convey the setting and time period. I think both aspects are certainly important, but I don't necessarily want to break for a history lesson in the middle of my reading. There were way more info dumps in A Future Arrived than there were in the first two books.

I felt a little more incredulous about some things in this book, too. Everyone is being paired up with someone and, once again, the female characters take a backseat role in the whole thing. It began to feel like a bit much for me, and I was beginning to grow tired of the romantic entanglements. A Future Arrived also ends in a rather abrupt way, in my opinion. There's a loss in the family that seems completely brushed over as the book just sort of fades into black at the close. I don't know - it just felt more contrived than the first two books in this series I had come to love.

I know it sounds like I hated this book, but I promise that I didn't. Yes, I was disappointed that A Future Arrived seemed to be lacking some of the qualities that first drew me to this series. I wanted it to go out with a bang instead of a whimper! I wanted to see how these characters that I first met in 1914 have changed, grown, loved and lost. But, while it didn't really deliver for me, I still enjoyed the series as a whole and think that people who've read the first two books will certainly want to finish. Despite a lackluster ending, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Greville family saga. It was right up this historical fiction lover and Downton Abbey fan's alley!

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