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God Is an Englishman Paperback – December 20, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A delightful bounty of characters fairly jumps from the pages of God Is An Englishman."

About the Author

R.F. Delderfield was born in South London in 1912. On leaving school he joined the Exmouth Chronicle newspaper as a junior reporter, where he went on to become Editor. From there he began to write stage plays and then became a highly successful novelist, renowned for brilliantly portraying slices of English life. With the publication of his first saga, A HORSEMAN RIDING BY, he became one of Britain's most popular authors. Many of his bestselling novels were later adapted for television. He died in 1972. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 695 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf (December 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786717505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786717507
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 6 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,626,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Nina M. Osier on April 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Adam Swann has followed his family's tradition of military service for long enough to turn 30. He's seen a lot during those years, including a horrific massacre of civilians. When chance places a fortune in rubies in his hands, he's more than ready to make drastic changes. Back to England he goes, the England of a world just prior to the American Civil War, looking for a better way to spend his life. He finds it in two places. First, in a revolutionary business idea sparked by an encounter with a railway official; and second, in a runaway young woman. He marries the woman, factory heiress Henrietta Rawlinson (who's swiftly disinherited by her infuriated father), and he turns the idea into a hauling firm that deliberately fits itself into all the gaps the railway system cannot fill.

That's the bare outline. What makes this novel remarkable, though, isn't its plot. It's the characters, and the way author Delderfield lets them grow naturally out of the time and place in which he sets them. Adam Swann is in many ways a man ahead of that time, disgusted by what he's seen in war and determined to make his way in the world without committing outrages against basic human decency. In fact, he's determined to make a difference for the better while succeeding as a businessman. Henrietta, blessed with her enterpreneur father's sharp mind and quick wits for commerce, grows from a willful, uneducated and thoroughly spoiled girl into a worthy and even challenging partner for Adam in the course of the book's 800-some pages. Nothing seems forced, and none of the details of Victorian England ring false, in all of those pages. Some of the best reading comes from secondary characters who weave in and out of the main story, because each is well drawn and interesting - no matter how brief the appearance.

A tour-de-force, all in all. One of the best "family sagas" around, still, nearly 40 years after its publication.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Lila Gustavus on October 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
God Is an Englishman is the first book in this wonderful saga about the Swann family. Adam Swann, a 31-year-old cavalryman in the service of Queen Victoria's army, decides to break off with his family's military tradition and gives up his soldierly life in lieu of starting anew in England as a businessman. The road ahead of him will not be easy, as old sentiments still prevail where people making a living in a new, industrial England are looked down on and someone like Adam, giving up his army career is thought foolish. Adam Swann persists in his desire to be his own boss and not spent his life serving somebody else, even if it's the Crown of England. In his struggles to become a respectable and successful owner of a horse-carriage business, he has a few supporters, including his young wife, Henrietta and, surprisingly, his own father. The readers follow Adam and his personal and business lives for nine years. These are very tumultuous years for England as well. It is the 19th century, the country changes from an agricultural one into an industrial empire, with railroads ruling the transportation, mills, mines and factories replacing the farms and Adam Swann takes on a daring project of using horses as his road to success.

I thoroughly enjoyed God Is an Englishman, so much so that even before I finished it, I went and got part two (Theirs Was the Kingdom). It's not an easy read by any means, but very captivating and really a requirement for anyone who wants to read more about one of the most important periods in England's history. Some might say that it's reminiscent of Dickens's books but I should say that probably only in the time set. Through Delderfield's book I got a hopeful outlook, not a grim one.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
I can think of few better authors to take along on a long plane ride than Delderfield. God Is an Englishman is the first of a trilogy that runs a little out of gas by the end of the third book, but not in the first. To Serve Them All My Days got me hooked on Delderfield, and this series continued it. I can also recommend his book Diana. Alot of his works are out of print, although you can find them at liabraries, or Amazon's auction site -- or bookfinder.com
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Barbara R. Glavish on March 7, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I picked up a paperback copy of 'God is an Englishman' many years ago and was hooked. I read all this series and then found 'The Avenue' series. 'To Serve Them All My Days' was a Masterpiece Theatre special on PBS and is a superb story of a boys' boarding school in England. A little known masterpiece of Delderfield's is 'Mr. Parson' a heart warming story of a meek school teacher and his adventures when he leaves his bossy wife and unfulfilling job. Get Delderfield's books wherever you can find them and settle in for weeks of very satisfactory reading.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By June P. Spear on March 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for any Anglophile. The story traces the development of a haulage firm that serves all of Enland and Wales and part of Scotland. While that is the major focus, the family life of the founder of "Swan on Wheels" is very much a part of it. In fact, all the characters involved are well presented with divergent and believable personalities.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By KLANTHORN@EARTHLINK.NET on December 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
MY WIFE KEPT TELLING ME WHAT A GOOD "READ" THIS BOOK IS.I FINALLY FOUND ALL 3 SWANN SAGA BOOKS AT A USED SALE & I HAVENT LOOKED BACK.THIS AUTHOR HAS THE KNACK TO RELATE TO THE READER EVERY BIT OF WHAT ADAM 'N HETTY WERE EXPERIENCING IN VICTORIAN ENGLAND.I HAVE BEEN IN WHEELED TRANSPORTATION 40 YEARS AND I FELT LIKE I WAS WALKING STEP FOR STEP WITH ADAM SWANN FROM THE TIME HE FOUND THE RUBY NECKLACE TO THE 1ST MAXIE 10 TRK ORDER.I LAUGHED N CRIED THRU OUT EACH VOLUME.I AM NOW IN A SEARCH MODE FOR ANY N ALL OF DELDERFIELD BOOKS I HAVENT READ.I'D LIKE TO SEE A FAN CLUB....
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