God Is An Englishman by R. F. Delderfield, 1970 hardcover, historical fiction.
I remember this being on the shelf at home, a book my mother bought and read, and apparently liked a lot. Something brought it to mind no long ago, so I read it.
“From master author R. F. Delderfield, the first in the beloved classic God Is an Englishman series.” This is the first novel in the Swann Family Saga, which begins with Adam Swan leaving the military in 1858, he is determined to begin a business, searching for a need in this Victorian setting. He decides on cartage, and slowly manages to set up and then grow the firm, named after himself.
In England in the 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution takes hold, forever changing the landscape of England and her people. Swann is part of that change, along with his young wife Henrietta. As Swann works to build his name, he and Henrietta share adventures, reversal, and fortune.
My take: I enjoyed this a lot. This is a sweeping historical novel and family saga, and if you happen to be a fan of such you’ll like it, I think. The writing is good, the characters interesting and well-drawn. There are several additional novels continuing the story, one after the other. After 650 pages, I’d had enough for now, but may go back to this series later.
Have you read this book?
I haven’t read this one, but I read one of Delderfield’s great fat generation-spanning novels at about the same time this one was published (as I recall, it turned up as a book club choice I hadn’t cancelled in time), and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It was a salutary lesson for the youthful moi that I should be a bit more open to fiction that was seemingly outside my comfort zone.
Oops. “one of Delderfield’s great fat generation-spanning novels” should be “another of Delderfield’s great fat generation-spanning novels”
I have heard of Delferfield but not read any of his books. That is a great long book, but I guess it needs the length to tell the story. Sounds good, I will see if I can find a copy.
I read a lot of him in the seventies and enjoyed him a lot. Haven’t heard the name in years.
Yes! Both of us read and really liked his series – the God is an Englishman books, The Avenue, A Horseman Riding By. Also the solo To Serve Them All My Days, about a schoolmaster in the post-WWI years. BBC has done television adaptations of several of his books.
I liked this enough to try another. I fondly remember the version of TO SERVE THEM ALL MY DAYS done on Masterpiece Theatre many years ago.
R. F. Delderfield books show up at Library Book Sales regularly, both fat hardcovers and fat paperbacks. I have resisted buy them. But if the Meyersons and Patti and you like R. F. Delderfield, I should give his books a try.
Richard, I enjoy reading historical novels and sagas and while “God is an Englishman” sounds interesting, as much for your review as for the title, I’ll probably get to the author’s work later. I had not heard of R.F. Delderfield before.