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To Serve Them All My Days [Kindle Edition]

R. F. Delderfield
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"R.F. Delderfield is a born storyteller." — Sunday Mirror

The beloved classic saga from master author R. F. Delderfield, subject of a landmark BBC miniseries.

To Serve Them All My Days is the moving saga of David Powlett-Jones, who returns from World War I injured and shell-shocked. He is hired to teach history at Bamfylde School, where he rejects the formal curriculum and teaches the causes and consequences of the Great War.

Eventually David earns the respect of his students and many of his fellow teachers, against the backdrop of a country struggling to redefine itself. As David falls in love and finds himself on track to possibly take on the headmaster role, he must search to find the strength to hold true to his beliefs as the specter of another great war looms.

To Serve Them All My Days is a brilliant picture of England between the World Wars, as the country comes to terms with the horrors of the Great War and the new forces reshaping the British government and society.

Subject of a Landmark BBC Miniseries

Includes Bonus Reading Group Guide


"I sometimes still wake up in the morning and look forward to reading more about P.J. and Bamfylde."

"From the stationmaster on the first page to the last boy on the last page, these characters all have a very human aspect that connects to you immediately."

"This book should be in everyone's library."

"This is an ennobling book…it showed a person wounded in body and spirit who found that concentrating on the details of teaching the schoolboys under his care was, in a sense, a healing meditation."

"…just the book for a cold rainy day…with a hot cup of tea and a scone."

"Mr. Delderfield's manner is easy, modest, heartwarming."

Evening Standard

"He built an imposing artistic social history that promises to join those of his great forebears in the long, noble line of the English novel. His narratives belong in a tradition that goes back to John Galsworthy and Arnold Bennett."

Life Magazine

"Sheer, wonderful storytelling."

Chicago Tribune

"Highly recommended. Combines tension with a splendid sense of atmosphere and vivid characterisation. An excellent read."

Sunday Express

Editorial Reviews


[L]ush and descriptive... (Grace Loiacano Books Like Breathing 20090930)

Delderfield's love of the boys and the teachers is contagious and provides a touching tribute to this time in British history. (Kristen M We Be Reading 20091001)

Delderfield takes his time in telling his story... filled with details. (Tripp Book Are My Only Friends 20091005)

A rich and complex story... the author brings the story full circle in a charming way. (Carey Anderson The Tome Traveller's Weblog )

I can't thank Sourcebooks enough for reprinting the R.F. Delderfield novels. All of them are wonderful reads, engrossing and comforting at the same time. (Sandie Kirkland Booksie's Blog )

Fascinating... a book to savor. (Tricia Seguine Library Queue )

Reading To Serve Them All My Days is an experience, not merely an activity and it is one of those books that give you a story you will not soon forget, that will give you characters that you will know, inside out, and you will crave to meet one more time. (Lilly Swistek Reading Extravaganza )

About the Author

Born in South London in 1912, R.F. Delderfield was a journalist, playwright, and a highly successful novelist, renowned for brilliantly portraying slices of English life. He has remained one of England's most beloved novelists, with many of his novels being adapted into television and film, including the landmark BBC miniseries of To Serve Them All My Days.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1510 KB
  • Print Length: 676 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0340839902
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (March 1, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003D8V7FI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,458 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional book! October 2, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Delderfield's To Serve Them All My Days is a book that I have read frequently over the years. I found it after I watched the PBS Series. It is a very interesting period in British history - the end of "the war to end all wars" and the start of World War II. It is a time of social change, economic downturn and political upheaval. Delderfield uses the vantage point of a boy's school in Dorset to look at these issues and events. It is an extremely successful tactic. But what makes this book even more memorable are the people, from the stationmaster on the first page to the last boy on the last page, these charecters all have a very human aspect that connects to you immediately. Even the not so admirable or more difficult to like charecters make an impression.
This book is one that should be in everyone's library. It is a must have for teachers - maybe not to use as a teaching guide, but to show that our problems of today, stimulating learning, school politics, funding, are not new. Nor are the problems with parents.
This is a fine book and I recommend it highly. It is just the book for a cold rainy day and a goes well with a hot cup of tea and a scone.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another time another place May 21, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this book. It's old and about a time even older. Set between the two world wars in an English 'public' (that is private) school, it's a tale of dedication and love of ones calling such that we rarely understand nowadays. Such times are gone, but like the hero of the story, we can review a piece of history through an engaging story of one man's life and those around him. Great for a wet weekend with the T.V. turned off.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Reason We Like Fiction September 25, 2011
The great thing about reading fiction, as I tell my non-reading friends, is that you can go places you would never otherwise be able to go, and meet people that you'd never get to meet. That's why I really like To Serve Them All My Days and it's protagonist David Powlett-Jones.

The novel spans just over 20 years in the adult life of David, also known by nicknames Pow Wow and P.J., as he begins teaching at the private school Bamfylde.....okay to Americans it would be called a private school, in England it's a public school. P.J., a Welshman, is recovering from shell shock after three years in the trenches of World War I, and the novel begins with his train ride to the interview for the job. There are no flashbacks to his war times, it's only dealt with when he reminisces to his students and colleagues over the years. It's thought by his doctor at the hospital that teaching might 'snap him out of it', and while he's dubious, he does as he's told and goes to the interview. I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that he gets the job.

What follows over the pages are his interactions with his students, fellow teachers, and the bureaucracy. He finds mentors, friends, and of course can't have a novel like this without love. But it's dealt with almost gently, the love parts, and I found myself touched by them. P.J. is the only character we truly get a handle on, it's very rare that he's not in a scene, and the other characters are seen through his eyes. That's not a bad thing here, and I grew to care a lot about P.J and what happened to him.

I'd never heard of R.F. Delderfield, in no small part because he died in 1974, when I was two years old. I found this book in a bricks and mortar store, it was facing out and has an interesting cover.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I ran across this book by chance in a hospital lending library, and it was just the thing to read during a tedious recouperation. This is an enobling book, it reminded me of how people can rise to wonderful levels of caring and integrity, it showed a person wounded in body and spirit who found that concentrating on the details of teaching the schoolboys under his care was, in a sense, a healing meditation. I am slightly sceptical that anyone can be that free of ignoble impulses; it seemed that none of the characters in the book did anything at odds with their personality or with a base motive. However, I don't care: I'd RATHER that people's best selves were always visible. And I'd like to believe that the everyday world can be a healing place, and that I too can go forward with courage, confident that I would be able to show the truest part of my personality. -- In addition, I appreciated the book's description of the changing political mood in England during the two world wars.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll find Delderfield a delight! November 1, 1998
By A Customer
I've read most of Delderfield's fictional work and he's definitely in my Top 10. His characters are varied and richly presented, his understanding of the human condition profound, and his stories wonderful adventures in the human struggle to find truth, meaning and happiness. To Serve Them All My Days is the story of one man's struggle to face the seeming insensibilities of human tragedy (beginning with his experiences in the trenches of WWI) and finding humanity, understanding and, ultimately, salvation of the human spirit. Part of the joy in reading it is seeing the maturing of a man and the evolution of his thinking, from youth to late middle age, as he meets and overcomes hardships, prejudice, and even class struggle. Written before the age of PC, it is a story that rings true to the universal principles of surmounting life's difficulties. The truly rewarding life comes not in avoiding adversity but in overcoming it. This book is a treasure!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant
Delderfield is surely one of the greatest writers to come out of Britain.
To Serve Then All My Days is simply a very beautiful book written in simple but brilliant prose and... Read more
Published 19 hours ago by Annie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 12 days ago by Gary J Cregan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book!
Published 15 days ago by Lidia Carnicero
5.0 out of 5 stars Delderfield and Dickens make great reading
Many characters with lots of subplots. Book was written in 1972. World War I has somewhat to do with the path of the main character and the book ends just as World War II is... Read more
Published 17 days ago by factotum
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a PBS mini-series decades ago. The story ...
This was a PBS mini-series decades ago. The story takes place at a boys' school in England in the time between the world wars. Read more
Published 25 days ago by amgw
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a good book about the English boarding school in the early ...
This is a good book about the English boarding school in the early to mid 20th century. I enjoyed it and learned some things too. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Barbara Stahlman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of writing
Get your tissues out! I could vividly see the characters and the places. Great piece of writing.
Published 29 days ago by LesleyG
5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem!
I loved this book - a real page-turner, which kept me wanting more. I was sorry to see it end and kept thinking about the story for several days after having finished it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by loves wolves
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb writing and wonderful content.
Published 1 month ago by Robert J. Cook
4.0 out of 5 stars Not so easy to get started
Not so easy to get started, but worth the effort. A very interesting insight into the English public school system. Which is actually private school.
Published 1 month ago by jack hughes
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