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God Is an Englishman

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This bestselling novel set in the ruthless world of Victorian commerce follows the fortunes of Adam Swann, a scion of an Army family and veteran of campaigns in the Crimea and in India, in his quest to found his own financial dynasty. His struggle to succeed and his conquest of Henrietta, the spirited daughter of a rich manufacturer, drive a richly woven tale that takes th This bestselling novel set in the ruthless world of Victorian commerce follows the fortunes of Adam Swann, a scion of an Army family and veteran of campaigns in the Crimea and in India, in his quest to found his own financial dynasty. His struggle to succeed and his conquest of Henrietta, the spirited daughter of a rich manufacturer, drive a richly woven tale that takes the reader from the dusty plains of India to the teeming slums of nineteenth-century London, from the chaos of the great industrial cities to the age of the peaceful certainties of the English countryside. Filled with epic scenes and memorable characters, God is an Englishman triumphs in its portrayal of human strength and weakness, and in its revelations of the power of love.


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This bestselling novel set in the ruthless world of Victorian commerce follows the fortunes of Adam Swann, a scion of an Army family and veteran of campaigns in the Crimea and in India, in his quest to found his own financial dynasty. His struggle to succeed and his conquest of Henrietta, the spirited daughter of a rich manufacturer, drive a richly woven tale that takes th This bestselling novel set in the ruthless world of Victorian commerce follows the fortunes of Adam Swann, a scion of an Army family and veteran of campaigns in the Crimea and in India, in his quest to found his own financial dynasty. His struggle to succeed and his conquest of Henrietta, the spirited daughter of a rich manufacturer, drive a richly woven tale that takes the reader from the dusty plains of India to the teeming slums of nineteenth-century London, from the chaos of the great industrial cities to the age of the peaceful certainties of the English countryside. Filled with epic scenes and memorable characters, God is an Englishman triumphs in its portrayal of human strength and weakness, and in its revelations of the power of love.

30 review for God Is an Englishman

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I decided to sample Delderfield after finishing the Poldark series and having withdrawal symptoms. I wanted another family I could sink my teeth into and become completely involved in. This novel was set in the same time frame as Poldark, but actually covers completely different issues, so I stopped comparing the two and just settled down to enjoy this story as a thing apart. That worked out fine, because there is a lot to enjoy here. Adam Swann is a very interesting and smart character and his a I decided to sample Delderfield after finishing the Poldark series and having withdrawal symptoms. I wanted another family I could sink my teeth into and become completely involved in. This novel was set in the same time frame as Poldark, but actually covers completely different issues, so I stopped comparing the two and just settled down to enjoy this story as a thing apart. That worked out fine, because there is a lot to enjoy here. Adam Swann is a very interesting and smart character and his aims to build his own place in the world are a kind of microcosm of how industry and entrepreneurism changed the world in the mid-1800s. His feisty wife, Henrietta, adds another dimension to both this man and the story, and Delderfield peoples the novel with a supporting cast that feels real and substantial. While there are sections in which the building of Swann-on-Wheels, Adam’s business, can become a little laborious, the understanding of it is essential to understanding the characters and their lives. There is an incident in the book that involves a train crash, and it turns out Charles Dickens is on the train. I happen to know that this was a significant event in Charles Dickens’ life, so I liked the touch of reality that lent to the situation. I am always pleased when fiction and history can cross paths seamlessly. I suspect that this novel is a very well-researched narrative and that life as described here is very akin to what life in 1860’s England would have been. I have the second book in the series winging its way to me, so I am not done with the Swanns. I seldom select a “series” of books, I usually prefer my stories in one sweet volume, however, I am feeling a nice bit of satisfaction knowing that I have not closed the final page on Adam and company.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cphe

    Overall I enjoyed this novel although I have to admit to enjoying some parts more so than others. It's rich in period detail, in some ways an "old fashioned" read. The story of Adam Swann his family and his "other family" who make up his haulage business during the Industrial Revolution and beyond. It was the secondary characters that I felt more in tune with - some great characters on offer. Far more "readable" than I'd originally thought. Overall I enjoyed this novel although I have to admit to enjoying some parts more so than others. It's rich in period detail, in some ways an "old fashioned" read. The story of Adam Swann his family and his "other family" who make up his haulage business during the Industrial Revolution and beyond. It was the secondary characters that I felt more in tune with - some great characters on offer. Far more "readable" than I'd originally thought.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chrisl

    Delderfield is one of my all-time favorite authors. Along with Nevil Shute, his assorted types of tales include multiple re-reads. (Caveat - avoid most of his thick family sagas. Try instead some of his slender books set during the time of Napoleon.) *** This first book in the Swann series is the only one of his thick sagas with sequels that have enthralled me in subsequent reading visits. The 'trucking' industry of Britain's 1860s has special personal interest. (Caveat - In my most recent re-rea Delderfield is one of my all-time favorite authors. Along with Nevil Shute, his assorted types of tales include multiple re-reads. (Caveat - avoid most of his thick family sagas. Try instead some of his slender books set during the time of Napoleon.) *** This first book in the Swann series is the only one of his thick sagas with sequels that have enthralled me in subsequent reading visits. The 'trucking' industry of Britain's 1860s has special personal interest. (Caveat - In my most recent re-read, I lost interest halfway through the story when it began to focus on the 'Swann family' instead of the transport business. Too much like trying to re-read Dickens.) Here be quotes from page 180 > "It was an aspect of the railway boom that he had never thought about, the genocide of a class of men who had once been the best paid and most pampered professionals in England ... For these were the men who had whirled passengers ... at eleven miles per hour ... These same men, and their four-horse equipages, had been the wonder of their time, a race apart, as dissolute and dependable as the toughest infantry at the peak of training, yet here they were lining up for haulage jobs in their late forties and early fifties, traditional truculence undispelled by their desperate need to earn a living the only way they knew." *** "The first novel, God Is an Englishman, is set in mid-19th-century England. The hero, Adam Swann, a former soldier, founds a haulage firm after a railroad employee explains there is a need for wagons to carry merchandise from cities and small towns to the railroad. Adam founds a national network of wagoners, and the stories of his workers, some of whom rise from the ghetto, are fascinating. He and his spirited wife, Henrietta, with whom he originally has a rocky relationship, build a dynasty of employees and family. Adam is a vigorous businessman, respected by his workers, and frankly the descriptions of his business make this worth reading. Delderfield has thoroughly researched the relationship between wagons and railroads. "

  4. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    God is an Englishman is historical fiction written in the 1970s about the Victorian era. I’ve always had a soft spot for this era, and only turned to historical fiction once I grew tired of re-reading my favorite classics of the period. Finally, I've found something that satisfies what I’ve been searching for ever since, something that goes beyond an individual or two who happen to be living in a Victorian setting. This is different. It takes account of the sweeping social and economic turmoil o God is an Englishman is historical fiction written in the 1970s about the Victorian era. I’ve always had a soft spot for this era, and only turned to historical fiction once I grew tired of re-reading my favorite classics of the period. Finally, I've found something that satisfies what I’ve been searching for ever since, something that goes beyond an individual or two who happen to be living in a Victorian setting. This is different. It takes account of the sweeping social and economic turmoil of the Industrial Revolution while bringing individuals to life and capturing the energy of the age in a way that I haven’t felt since Dickens or Gaskell. But yet it has a tone and style completely its own, easy to read, and more direct in dealing with issues of intimacy in marriage or women’s roles, for example, than you get in the classics. (Don’t expect it to read just like a Dickens novel). This first volume in the trilogy follows Adam Swann as he decides to leave the army and start a business back home. It may not sound very exciting, but I was surprised to find the details of Adam’s startup, from idea to fledgling to success, with ups and downs along the way, to be quite fascinating. Most historical novels focusing on the 1800s stick to the upper classes, and you wouldn’t even know the Industrial Revolution was going on at the same time. But here you get a very interesting picture of England, both urban and rural, with cotton mills and railroads taking over everything and changing the face of the country. You can feel the shifting energy and the clash of old and new. All of this is seen through the eyes of Adam as he puts his flexible mind to the question of how to succeed in the middle of it all while maintaining human dignity and avoiding exploitation. It’s an invigorating tale full of industry, hope, daunting challenges, and perseverance. Although the business may seem to be the primary focus, Adam’s personal development is the true story. He learns, grows, and changes significantly as he is affected by people he deals with in his public and private lives, as well as external events that impact him. He marries early on, and the story of his marriage is set alongside the story of his business. The marriage feels real with a full range of affection and distance, knowing and misunderstanding, trials, difficulties and surprises, and learning about the true nature of love. It manages to deal with these variations without growing cynical or using the struggles as an excuse to veer off into infidelity. Instead, they are opportunities for growth and increased understanding. Aside from Adam, there are also two very capable women in the story who develop and grow significantly throughout the book. One is Adam’s wife, Henrietta. She starts out naive and shallow but with a spark of intelligence waiting to be coaxed into flame. She gradually blossoms and discovers depths and strength you wouldn’t expect, and I ended up actually respecting her. The other one is Edith, a woman who works beside the men in Adam’s business and takes a special role in Adam’s development as well. Both of these women manage to break out of the mold of their rightful place in society, at least for a while, and I really loved how indispensable they became to Adam and his success. But the story does remain realistic enough that they end up back in the home, a quiet strength behind the men. This is not to say that the men aren't strong too. I liked that the men and women are essentially well-matched in strength and intelligence although their roles end up being traditional. There are other less important characters as well. Adam’s handpicked managers each get a bit of the spotlight, and their stories add another dimension. I believe they are important in giving you a real feel for the time and place, adding geographical variety as well as interesting personalities. I have to admit that I skimmed some of these sections, though, because I wanted to get back to the main story and the details got a bit much for me at times. Still, they added an extra bit of flavor that I think was important looking back at the whole. Essentially, this was really well done historical fiction. I cared about the characters, and I was not bored by historical details (mostly). At some points I wondered where it was going - there’s not much predictability in the sudden turns a man’s life can take - but overall there was momentum and motion and purpose, and satisfying change in the characters. I’m still trying to decide if I want to read the second book. I really liked how this one ended, and sometimes it’s better to leave things alone. But as I find myself thinking about Adam and his family and his network, I am tempted to read on.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris Gager

    I rescued several of Delderfield's novels from the local transfer station/dump a few years ago. So ... now it's time to read one, I reckon. Pretty good so far ... - A whiff of "Hard Times" is present. So, I'm well into this well-crafted story and wondering just a teeny bit if my interest will be sustained for next 600+ pages or so. This is a tale of mercantile/industrial/capitalist challenge and success in mid-19th century England. Doesn't SOUND so promising but ... we'll see. Life unfolds for Adam I rescued several of Delderfield's novels from the local transfer station/dump a few years ago. So ... now it's time to read one, I reckon. Pretty good so far ... - A whiff of "Hard Times" is present. So, I'm well into this well-crafted story and wondering just a teeny bit if my interest will be sustained for next 600+ pages or so. This is a tale of mercantile/industrial/capitalist challenge and success in mid-19th century England. Doesn't SOUND so promising but ... we'll see. Life unfolds for Adam and his bride and Adam and his true love, his transport company. This stuff is apex entertainment literature. Nice to pass the time with, but not exactly excitement-filled. RFD is an English(i.e. somewhat more restrained) Nelson DeMille ... Still entertaining - especially the tale of the escaped lion. Better than Annie Proulx! She'd have had the lion devouring dogs, cats, children ... I've just slipped under the 200-pages-to-go mark in this 800-plus page beast and am still enjoying the storytelling as long as I don't try to read a lot at a time. One wonders from time to time about the believability of it all, but after all, it IS a novel. One's mind also tends to wander when the more mundane details of Swann-on-Wheels are dwelt upon. Still, the author does have the gift of interesting gab about him. Finally close to the 100-pages-to-go mark and the kitchen sink has come hurtling through in the form of a disaster. Based on a true incident - involving a Very Prominent Victorian! My lips are sealed ... Oh so close to finishing now - tonight? I hope so ... Unfortunately, the author has chosen to bog the reader down in a lot of relationshippy observation vis-a vis Edith and what's 'is name and Henrietta and our hurtin' hero. This is NOT what's called for at the end of 800 pages. Reminds me of Stephen King ... words, words, words. Skimming is likely to be the "tool" that gets me to the end of this. Free at last, free at last etc. FINALLY! Done and done with a bit of skip-skimming as the author steadfastly refused to smartly wrap things up w/o more tedious hosannas hung onto the title notion. Please ... All in all a decently entertaining book. Would've been better with fewer ruminations about England's gifted males(and some females) and overall wonderfulness. Also too much blah blah about relationships and love and all that sort of thing(as my step-father used to put it). 3.25* rounds down to 3*.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Just arrived from USA through BM. This is the first volume of the Swann Family Saga series in the period of 1857 to 1866. After returning from the wars in the Crimea and India, Adam Swann decided to leave the army and started his own business - "Swann-on-Wheels". The company's name was suggested by Henrietta Rawlinson, daughter of a local mill owner, who will become his beloved wife. Their life will change drastically after a train crash. By coincidence or not, the Swann's family just met the famou Just arrived from USA through BM. This is the first volume of the Swann Family Saga series in the period of 1857 to 1866. After returning from the wars in the Crimea and India, Adam Swann decided to leave the army and started his own business - "Swann-on-Wheels". The company's name was suggested by Henrietta Rawlinson, daughter of a local mill owner, who will become his beloved wife. Their life will change drastically after a train crash. By coincidence or not, the Swann's family just met the famous British writer Charles Dickens who was already well known at that time. The title of this book comes from Adam's returning to England after a very painful period of his life, in the quay of Calais, "where he saw every other ship flew the British flag and quays were piled with packing cases, some of them stenciled with names he recognized." (page 781) A lot of British writers are mentioned along this book in addition to Charles Dickens, such as Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Charlotte Mary Yonge, Wilkie Collins. However, a special attention is given to East Lynne by Mrs. Henry Wood with is cited several times along the narrative and was mostly related to Henrietta character while the firs ones were related to their children's education. This saga continues with Theirs Was the Kingdom and Give Us This Day.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    In September 2019, I enjoyed the many highs and lows of To Serve Them All My Days, my first book by R.F. Delderfield, and so was keen to sample more of his work When I espied a copy of God Is an Englishman for a mere 99 pence, I snapped it up. God Is an Englishman is a 700 page whopper and the first part of a trilogy. I notice that the second book in the series, Theirs Was the Kingdom is 900 pages, so the series is perhaps not for the feint hearted. Helpfully, God Is an Englishman is wall to wall In September 2019, I enjoyed the many highs and lows of To Serve Them All My Days, my first book by R.F. Delderfield, and so was keen to sample more of his work When I espied a copy of God Is an Englishman for a mere 99 pence, I snapped it up. God Is an Englishman is a 700 page whopper and the first part of a trilogy. I notice that the second book in the series, Theirs Was the Kingdom is 900 pages, so the series is perhaps not for the feint hearted. Helpfully, God Is an Englishman is wall to wall plot which is, I think, a good thing. I felt I was getting more than just a competent page turner though, not least many historical and social insights. R.F. Delderfield is brilliant at immersing his readers into different periods, in this instance Victorian England. What helps set great historical fiction apart from the average is the little details of everyday life and, probably the most important aspect, credible dialogue. It's somewhat melodramatic but irresistably so. I was swept along by the increasingly addictive plot. The rich period detail is there in abundance, not least the sweeping social and economic turmoil of the Industrial Revolution whilst also credibly bring the characters to life. All in all, it's capturing the energy of the age in a way that would have done Dickens proud. Delderfield lived in Devon and this article offers some insight into his recurring themes... The novels are concerned with the portrayal 'ordinary, decent folk', striving to 'get on' and become a success, whilst remaining true to themselves and their values. These values include patriotism, decency, integrity, thrift, industriousness, success gained through service and hard work. The novels, now described as 'old fashioned', celebrate English history, humanity, and liberalism while demonstrating little patience with entrenched class differences and snobbery. This was certainly my experience with To Serve Them All My Days and God Is an Englishman. I think most of us like honest and decent people to prevail, which - to varying degrees - seems to happen in his books, albeit with the slings and arrows which most poeple have to endure at times in their lives. Whilst not quite up to the standard of To Serve Them All My Days, this is still well worth reading if you enjoy chunky, good quality period fiction. 4/5 The blurb... Adam Swann is hungry for success. He is one of the new breed of entrepreneurs thrown up by the Industrial Revolution, determined to take advantage of current economic conditions to build an unrivalled business empire. And he is determined to win the beautiful, strong-minded Henrietta, and persuade her to share in his struggles and triumphs. "About the Author": R.F. Delderfield was born in London but has lived much of his life in Devon, where he started writing as a reporter on his father's newspaper, the Exmouth Chronicle. During World War II and immediately thereafter he achieved quite a success as a West End playwright (one of his plays ran five and a half years). Then, at the age of forty, he stopped to take stock of his life. "What I really wanted was to be a novelist," he told one interviewer, "to project the English way of life in the tradition of Hardy and Galsworthy." Out of that resolve have come his great family sagas- The Avenue, A Horseman Riding By and its sequel, The Green Gauntlet, and now his latest and most ambitious saga which begins with God Is An Englishman. In preparing himself to write one of his vast family chronicles, Mr. Delderfield draws a detailed map of the territory, county or city that he will cover, placing the houses where his characters will live and adding the place names and details that will build up into a rich and convincing background. Then he steps back and lets inspiration take over. He writes regularly in the morning, averaging about 4,000 words a day, then takes the afternoons off to go strolling over the moors.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    This is the first of a Saga and I am already looking forward to reading the next one. The story surrounds Adam Swann, a former Army Officer in the East India Company (mercenaries). He has become disillusioned with the colonial military life and the exploitation of weaker rulers. The military has been a family tradition for multiple generations. He returns to England with a string of rubies that literally befall him in battle. The rubies provide the reassurance of capital. The story moves on to hi This is the first of a Saga and I am already looking forward to reading the next one. The story surrounds Adam Swann, a former Army Officer in the East India Company (mercenaries). He has become disillusioned with the colonial military life and the exploitation of weaker rulers. The military has been a family tradition for multiple generations. He returns to England with a string of rubies that literally befall him in battle. The rubies provide the reassurance of capital. The story moves on to his launching of a transportation company based on horse carriage in the age of railroad dominance. What makes Adam different is that he has applied his keen mind and moral code to founding and growing a successful niche in the ruthless industrial revolution economy of Victorian England. Adam also bucks convention and impulsively marries a runaway teen, the daughter of a true industrial revolution mill-owning brute. His father-in-law is what the 'upper crust' of British society thought typical of "men in commerce". Adam becomes a business-owner of a different sort, treating his employees and managers as full team members. His wife, Henrietta, grows and matures and eventually comes into her own to fulfill a critical role. This book is long, detailed and characterized by antiquated language and bygone references. It is also fascinating, engrossing and felt very authentic. I was glad I read it on my Kindle so that I could use the Oxford dictionary as I encountered unfamiliar words and usages. Maybe a British reader would have had fewer problems with these terms, unusual analogies and references? However, this challenge is one of the reasons I loved it! Unlike some family sagas, I really grew to like and admire these characters. They are not single dimensional or described in villain/good guy terms. This is not an easy read but it is well worth spending the time it takes.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vicki Seldon

    I loved this book on so many levels. I will be writing a more detailed review later but if you love family sagas, if you love English novels, if you just like a good "read read" peopled with multi-faceted characters, this is the book for you! I had heard of Delderfield but that's all and I don not know why he is not better-known or read on both sides of the pond! I loved this book on so many levels. I will be writing a more detailed review later but if you love family sagas, if you love English novels, if you just like a good "read read" peopled with multi-faceted characters, this is the book for you! I had heard of Delderfield but that's all and I don not know why he is not better-known or read on both sides of the pond!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Susan's Reviews

    I read this series when I was in high school - back in the day when I didn't mind series, or historical fiction, or war-themed stories. I learned so much history from R.F. Delderfield. I don't know if his books are politically correct enough for today's standards, but he is what I grew up on. His portrayal of women often left a lot to be desired. One memorable line that I still recall from this series was the main character's comment that all a woman really needed was to have a fine home and a f I read this series when I was in high school - back in the day when I didn't mind series, or historical fiction, or war-themed stories. I learned so much history from R.F. Delderfield. I don't know if his books are politically correct enough for today's standards, but he is what I grew up on. His portrayal of women often left a lot to be desired. One memorable line that I still recall from this series was the main character's comment that all a woman really needed was to have a fine home and a family to look after (i.e, be the mistress of her own establishment), and she would be happy. I think I was a feminist from birth, so I thumped my head against my desk at that one. But Delderfield was such a fantastic writer that I forgave him this antediluvian notion and devoured all of his books. He made history so darned interesting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Collins

    I love a saga, and I very much enjoyed this. Fans of the Poldark books will probably like it: it’s set a few generations later, during the Victorian industrial revolution, but like Poldark, Adam Swann is a soldier who returns to England, starts a family and goes into business for himself. Also like Poldark, he's more socially enlightened than his peers. This is a feminist novel for the 1970’s: it has strong, capable women, but they are more than willing to subjugate themselves if they can only fi I love a saga, and I very much enjoyed this. Fans of the Poldark books will probably like it: it’s set a few generations later, during the Victorian industrial revolution, but like Poldark, Adam Swann is a soldier who returns to England, starts a family and goes into business for himself. Also like Poldark, he's more socially enlightened than his peers. This is a feminist novel for the 1970’s: it has strong, capable women, but they are more than willing to subjugate themselves if they can only find a man who is yet stronger and more capable. While Adam and Henrietta’s relationship is less passionate than that of the Poldarks, it has some interesting twists. I thought their wedding night was very well written: Henrietta naive but determined, and both of them pleasantly surprised. The childbirth scene, not so much - not sure the author had ever actually talked to anybody who had given birth. Adam starts a business hauling cargo around Britain, filling in gaps left by the railroad, employing the drivers who were left unemployed by that same invention. There is a lot of detail about the logistics of this business, but somehow it was never boring, although I sometimes wished the book had included a map. There are some great secondary characters. I particularly enjoyed the series of vignettes in the middle of the book, showing how three of Adam’s employees distinguished themselves.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    When Adam Swann returns from soldiering in the Victorian wars of the Crimea and India with unexpected, and arguably, ill gotten gains, he is inspired to use this bounty to fund a horse drawn road haulage business. He sees that the ever growing railway network has put those offering more traditional ways of moving goods around the country out of business, leaving gaps in the market that his well organised and innovative approach to business can fill. Adam is a great character, and certainly deserve When Adam Swann returns from soldiering in the Victorian wars of the Crimea and India with unexpected, and arguably, ill gotten gains, he is inspired to use this bounty to fund a horse drawn road haulage business. He sees that the ever growing railway network has put those offering more traditional ways of moving goods around the country out of business, leaving gaps in the market that his well organised and innovative approach to business can fill. Adam is a great character, and certainly deserved to have another, equally good character as his partner during this enjoyable saga, and the author has provided this in the shape of Henrietta, Daughter of a somewhat unscrupulous mill owner, a young woman with a mind of her own, whose character develops as the story unfolds. This is such an interesting read....a little predictable at times, but also surprising and interesting. There was, perhaps, just a little too much information about how the mechanics of Adam’s business worked, but that didn’t spoil things, as there were plenty of good characters, and exciting plot to keep me turning the pages. I found this author’s female characters to be so well written.....the author seemed to have an understanding of, and an empathy for the female condition. Another enjoyable read I found as a result of researching books for a reading challenge.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    This book started slow for me and it never picked up. I'm usually a big fan of a family saga and I did like the characters of Henrietta and Adam but I was bored to death of all the descriptions about his business. It just went on and on about his sectors and depots and horses and there was hardly any interaction between him and Hetty once he started establishing the business. This book started slow for me and it never picked up. I'm usually a big fan of a family saga and I did like the characters of Henrietta and Adam but I was bored to death of all the descriptions about his business. It just went on and on about his sectors and depots and horses and there was hardly any interaction between him and Hetty once he started establishing the business.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Boy, I reads this eons ago and remember loving it!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tripp

    It is a generalization to be sure, but today's literary novelists work with a much smaller scope than those of the past. The books are generally shorter, with a focus on fewer characters and on a less complex story. There are great exceptions, like Chabon's Kavalier and Klay, but overall, the focus is more on the intense examination of character. The big writers of the 19th century, from Melville to Trollope to Tolstoy wrote giant novels with epic lists of characters and stories long enough to su It is a generalization to be sure, but today's literary novelists work with a much smaller scope than those of the past. The books are generally shorter, with a focus on fewer characters and on a less complex story. There are great exceptions, like Chabon's Kavalier and Klay, but overall, the focus is more on the intense examination of character. The big writers of the 19th century, from Melville to Trollope to Tolstoy wrote giant novels with epic lists of characters and stories long enough to sustain months of reading. There are downsides of course. How many high school students think of Moby Dick with little more than bitterness at the lengthy asides about whale parts and the business of whaling? My 11th grade teacher was kind enough to let us skip many of those sections, but the book still felt interminably long. That said, I have had years of enjoyment out of the likes of the Chronicles of Barset or the Pickwick Papers. The usual phrase is that you get lost in these books, which makes them quite like fantasy novels. Fantasy novels create worlds in which you temporarily take residence. Their breed of escapism is one of immersion and the big fat story telling literary novel is the same. While modernism has dominated 20th century fiction, story tellers held their own as well. Englishman R F Delderfield specialized in the story-telling novel. Out of print for many years, his God is An Englishman is available once again. It is the first of a trilogy of books about Adam Swann, a soldier turned businessman in Victorian Britain. The story starts after a battle during the Indian Mutiny (or First War of Indian Independence if you prefer) with some jewels falling into Swann's hands. He returns to England with vague plans of becoming a tycoon, probably in rails. His second bit of fortune is his meeting with a station master who tells him the opportunity is in transporting goods where rails can't go. On a scouting expedition, he meets Henrietta, the daughter of a small town mill owner. She is driven by a desire to escape and she finds it with Swann. The novel is about the rise of his business and the development of their romance. Delderfield spins his tale slowly and relishes the little details. We hear for example, about how some of Swann's operators won over locals with the capture of an escaped circus lion. Where most authors would be happy for a paragraph length aside to describe the goings on, Delderfield spends a number of pages to relate the humorous anecdote. If you have an interest in British history, this book will be particularly interesting with its picture of bustling London, the railroads, the smog-covered Lancashire and the still green countryside. Even those who don't will likely appreciate Delderfield's story telling abilities.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Reagan Ramsey

    i feel like i uncovered a gem in this book--i get the sense it was the 1970s equivalent of the da vinci code (without all the quasi spiritual nonsense of course). though it got a bit tedious in parts, overall it was very engaging and fun to read. it follows Adam Swann and his inimitable wife, Henrietta, starting from their (a little too) serendipitous meeting to their joint management of business, home and family. in parts it functioned like a leadership book, in that it teaches how to empower an i feel like i uncovered a gem in this book--i get the sense it was the 1970s equivalent of the da vinci code (without all the quasi spiritual nonsense of course). though it got a bit tedious in parts, overall it was very engaging and fun to read. it follows Adam Swann and his inimitable wife, Henrietta, starting from their (a little too) serendipitous meeting to their joint management of business, home and family. in parts it functioned like a leadership book, in that it teaches how to empower and motivate people to do good work. Adam was a great leader who inspired integrity and hard work, even in his absence. i also liked that his character was willing to break cultural barriers in order to innovate (e.g., hiring a woman to run a territory in the 19th century). it reminds me to be open to new and big ideas to find the parts i can use, instead of dismissing them for their impracticality outright. the story was very cute and satisfying. while you have to suspend common sense in a few instances, it's worth it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Claude

    It took me time to get into the book but once I did, I really enjoyed it. Good historical fiction with likeable characters and a great plot. Just sometimes too many details and explanations could have been edited. I like a long book, but over 700 pages is a bit too long. I will certainly read the sequel, even though it's just as long. It took me time to get into the book but once I did, I really enjoyed it. Good historical fiction with likeable characters and a great plot. Just sometimes too many details and explanations could have been edited. I like a long book, but over 700 pages is a bit too long. I will certainly read the sequel, even though it's just as long.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I really began to enjoy this historical novel after the first 400 pages, but it really was worth the effort, even if it took me nearly a month to finish! An interesting story, very well written, wonderful characters and a period that is fascinating (1860s). Just a bit too much detail about the workings of the haulage firm.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Historical novel taking place in the late 1850's early 1860's in England. Adam Swann returns home from the army with a secret and starts a carting delivery service which grows throughout England. Much of the book examines (which could be boring to some) the business growth, with some time being spent on his family. While there were interesting characters, I felt Delderfield could have done more with their depth and emotions. Historical novel taking place in the late 1850's early 1860's in England. Adam Swann returns home from the army with a secret and starts a carting delivery service which grows throughout England. Much of the book examines (which could be boring to some) the business growth, with some time being spent on his family. While there were interesting characters, I felt Delderfield could have done more with their depth and emotions.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shirlene

    Adam Swann entered Addiscombe College as a cadet when he was 18. At 31, he was ready to leave the military life. During his last battle, he had killed a man carrying a small casket and he managed to open it and find a ruby necklace. Adam used his recover time used to research the industrial revolution going on back home in Europe. He returned home and traveled the country to get to know it again. He met and spoke with a railway captain and set about determining how to start an overland freight h Adam Swann entered Addiscombe College as a cadet when he was 18. At 31, he was ready to leave the military life. During his last battle, he had killed a man carrying a small casket and he managed to open it and find a ruby necklace. Adam used his recover time used to research the industrial revolution going on back home in Europe. He returned home and traveled the country to get to know it again. He met and spoke with a railway captain and set about determining how to start an overland freight hauling business that would bring materials from the outlying areas to the railroads. He would use regular routes with speed and reliability necessary to make it a profitable endeavor. Sam Rawlinson had grown into a position of wealth and owned of a mill. His wife had died giving birth to Henrietta and he valued her as a possession to be used to gain more wealth. Henrietta was 18 and refused to be forced into a marriage in exchange for land. The striking mill workers had caused a riot and set the mill on fire. Henrietta used the distraction as an opportunity to run away from home. A storm came up and her horse threw her and ran off. She found a hut outside of town and used it to get out of the rain. Adam arrived in town at the time of the riot and watched as Sam, Matthew and his son Makepeace Goldthorpe (the man Henrietta was to marry) rode into town. There was a small boy in the street and Sam went out of his way to hit the boy over the head, killing him. Adam checked on the boy and headed out. Outside of town, he passed by a hut and saw Henrietta. He stopped and she told him how she ended up there and he took her with him because he didn't have the heart to return her to a home she didn't want to go to after what he had seen her father do. It took them four days of travel to reach Adam's home. Adam told her about the business he had in mind and she suggested a logo for him of a Swan on Wheels. Adam showed her the necklace he had found because he approved so whole-heartedly of her logo suggestion. They arrived at Adam's home and Henrietta was given into the care of his Aunt Charlotte. Adam spent time with his father. Sam had found out where Henrietta was and came to collect her. She refused to go. Adam took Sam aside and told him what he had seen in regard to the boy. Sam agreed to leave Henrietta with Adam and stated that he would disinherit her. Adam asked Henrietta to marry him. Henrietta agreed to the marriage and Adam told her what he had seen Sam do. Henrietta wasn't at all surprised that her father would do such a thing. Adam went to London in search of Josh Avery who had served in the army with him. Josh was given the ruby necklace was supposed to sell the gems. Adam discovered that Josh invested his own capital instead so Adam insisted that Josh become a silent partner. Josh sent Saul Keate to Adam for employment. Keate was a servant of Christ and an extraordinary wagon master. Over the next three years, Adam and Henrietta were married. Their first child was born 18 months later. It was a girl Adam named Stella after a girl he found in a well during his military days. Stella's eyes reminded him of the stars in the sky as they removed her body from the well. He was out driving in a buggy with Henrietta at the time and a mare he had bought recognized the area they were in and took off at a trot to his old home. Henrietta went into labor and had the child at the manor. There was no one living there at the time. When it came time to return home, Henrietta asked Adam to rent the property for 5 years hoping at the end of that time that he be able to afford to purchase the property. Adam agreed thinking that if Henrietta was more comfortable at home, she wouldn't mind his absences as much. He was home for approximately one day out of 10 but occasionally spent weeks at home. He spent most of his time in London and worked most of the time he was at home. Their second child was a son, Alexander. Henrietta was determined that he would become a soldier following the family tradition of his father and grandfather. Aunt Charlotte had passed away after being sick of bronchitis. Adam's father was brought to live with Henrietta and the children. They were all he had left of a family. Adam's freight hauling business had spread over 12 territories in England. Keate was in charge of training, hiring and paying the wagon drivers. His accountant was Andrew Tybalt. Tybalt was of immense help to the expansion of the business. Tybolt spent lots of time researching the area almanac's to discover the business owners and the type of freight they would need hauled in each area. Adam didn't pay much attention to what was going on in the world outside of England until he was first approached first by Henrietta's father and asked to haul cotton to his mills. Later there was a blockade on cotton brought in from the states. One of his wagon masters refused to haul the cotton due to the use of slavery in the states. Civil War had begun in America. Adam then began reading of activities around the world after acknowledging the fact that events outside of England would affect his freight business. 1861 ended with the Queen's husband dying of typhoid. The next two years brought the Swann's name notoriety through employee activities. Hamlet Ratcliff was informed that his job was in jeopardy. Hamlet set about catching a circus lion that had gotten loose while being transported by a different company whose driver was drunk. His catching the lion increased the popularity of the line in his area and kept him from being replaced. Blubb found out that one of his transports of weapons was being watched by some Irishmen in hopes of stealing them. Blubb sent for Adam and along with the two bothers who drove the freight, they fought and killed two of the men trying to steal the weapons belonging to the government. This brought the government's attention and led to more contracts with them. The thieves weren't heard from again. The most notable of the events was when a mine collapsed, Swann's driver Bryan Lovell told the mine owner that a pump was in his yard that had been received three days early. He arranged for the pump to be used to save more than 50 lives of miners trapped in the cave. People didn't remember Lovell's name but they remembered that Swann had the pump because of their efficiency in having the pump three days ahead of schedule and allowing it to be used in saving so many lives. Henrietta was still living at 'Tryst' which is what the house was called. Ellen Michelmore had established control of her household. She was the one who ran the place, not Henrietta. She took advantage of her position and thought that she could do whatever she pleased. This all ended when Ellen hired a chimney sweep and one of his boys, Luke Hobbs, died cleaning the chimney in preparation for Henrietta's 24th birthday party. The party was cancelled and Adam blamed Henrietta for his death. Adam took the guilt to heart and ceased caring about anything other than causes that dealt with abusing others for about a month. His employees were all concerned of Adam's lack of attention to his freight business. He couldn't seem to let go of Luke's death. He finally slept with Henrietta but she felt a difference in him. Adam couldn't sleep and left the house early the next morning. He went to see Edith Wadsworth who ran one of his stations. He didn't understand his need to see her but thought of her commonsense attitude and had to know what she thought of the event. It took him almost a week to find Edith and they talked. She suggested that Henrietta had too much time on her hands. Her advice was for Adam to buy her the house and fire most of her staff. He took Edith's advice to heart and headed back to London. The Colonel came to see him then and told him that Henrietta had been flirting with a neighbor and had almost gotten herself raped. Henrietta had ended up hitting him in the head with a rock and kicking him in his privates to escape. Adam sent the Colonel back home and asked him to send Henrietta to London. Adam concluded that he had treated Henrietta too much like a mistress and not a wife. She needed to grow up and become more responsible. She had been spoiled and put things out of her mind that displeased her. She didn't truly understand the consequences of her actions. Adam showed her around his business because she had an aversion to his being in a trade rather than in the military. He showed her that he worked and what he had undertaken to run a business. He told her that he had purchased 'Tryst'. He went home with her and dismissed Ellen and most of the people Ellen she had hired. Henrietta was told the household was her business and he expected her to take care of it and make it profitable. She accepted the challenge. Adam then tried to get in touch with Avery to discuss his purchase of the 'Tryst' but couldn't locate him. No one seemed to know where he was. Adam tracked him down with help from Avery's butler. Josh had fallen for a Spanish dancer, Esmeralda. Adam learned that she and her partner were robbing Josh. She kept asking for more and more money and Josh gave it to her. They had funneled his money to the States. He had even had a ring made for her similar to the ruby ring he had made for Adam to give to Henrietta. The partner had killed Esmerelda and Josh had killed him. They knew the police would soon come looking for him and find the bodies. Adam helped Josh get away from London in one of his freight trailers. Before they parted, Josh told Adam that he had an 8 yr old daughter in a convent. He asked Adam to look in on Deborah Avery for him since he wouldn't be able to. The next two years found Adam struggling to keep the business profitable while the war continued in the states. He struggled to manage his business and keep the property he purchased. He managed to get credit and used it to hold on until the economy got better. Adam went to meet Deborah and brought her home for the Christmas holidays and she was accepted by Henrietta and the children. Ratcliffe took credit for an idea of his wife to use their wagons to begin charging for excursions of people to sights of interest during the summer months. Another son, George, was born on Valentine's Day, 1864. Fraser managed to pick up some business after the boat capsized while carrying coal. Fraser was hired to collect the coal out of the water and deliver it to it's destination. The shipments were sent through Swann's company from then on. Abbott had to be dismissed for attacking a young man because he was homosexual. Rockwood, the 20 yr. old was promoted to take his place while Abbott had to leave the country. Edith managed to discover one of her employees was planning on stealing a diamond delivery and she stopped him. Adam didn't found out about this until years later. She kept quiet about it but refused to deliver any more of the diamonds. The thief had told her that they were mostly stolen diamonds and Edith wanted no part of it. The next two years began with Adam visiting his entire network of his business. He saw Edith towards the end of his route and found that she was no longer in love with him. They could now work together without the awkwardness of their feelings for each other. The Colonel was feeling a premonition of his death. The war in the states was over and cotton was beginning to trickle in. Henrietta had become more of a wife to Adam. She had matured was doing well with 'Tryst'. Henrietta and her father had developed a truce and Sam came to visit with her and the children more often. Age had mellowed his attitude a bit. Adam and his family were involved in a horrible train wreck and Adam was unconscious for over a month. They were returning home from what started out as a visit to Deborah. The nun who ran the convent where Deborah had been living told Adam that she was dying. They made arrangement for Deborah to come live with him permanently. Adam was unconscious for about six weeks and most everyone expected him to die. Henrietta was pregnant and had another child during the time Adam was recovering. He didn't know about the child until he finally arrived home after being gone a year. When he was first hurt, Edith when to London and took care of the business. She thought about taking over the organization for Adam and went to see Henrietta. She came up with the idea of Henrietta taking over after they met. Henrietta took over for Adam until Christmas. It was the worst winter they had. There was a lot of flooding. Henrietta came up with the idea of setting up a few stations with spare horses because they were having such a hard time hauling things through the muddy roads. The man, Tom who Edith had caught before he stole anything, returned. Edith had missed him and hired him back. They married a few months later just when Edith was turning 30. She had thought that it would never happen. She ended up turning her job over to her husband and becoming a wife who was trying to have a child. Henrietta came home at Christmas to have her child. It was another boy and Adam came home when the baby was 10 weeks old. He was returning to England when he came upon the land he declared that 'God is an Englishman'. Henrietta was surprised to learn that Adam wasn't as crippled. It was a hard road but Adam had recovered with only a slight limp. Adam was proud of Henrietta and the job she had done while he was away. They guys all got together and gave Adam a present of a statuette of a silver wagon with horses. The name first on the list was Blubb, who died while saving his family from the train wreck. Rockwood was one of Keate's orphans and he had worked his way up to running one of the stations and married his landlord's daughter. Bryn Lovell surprised him by marrying a mulatto and was teaching her children to read and write. Adam was proud of his business and the people who worked for him. He was more than ready to return to work. He chose the name of Giles for his son. Giles was the patron saint of the crippled.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I was not sure what to expect of this book, but when I received it and saw how large it was, I was certainly surprised. I was further surprised by how engrossing a book it actually was. Giving a plot outline really doesn't convey how good of a book this is, but I'll go ahead and try anyway. God Is an Englishman tells the story of Adam Swann and his rise to prominence in London in the 1860's. His story begins when he makes the decision to end his career as a soldier and begin his life as a busines I was not sure what to expect of this book, but when I received it and saw how large it was, I was certainly surprised. I was further surprised by how engrossing a book it actually was. Giving a plot outline really doesn't convey how good of a book this is, but I'll go ahead and try anyway. God Is an Englishman tells the story of Adam Swann and his rise to prominence in London in the 1860's. His story begins when he makes the decision to end his career as a soldier and begin his life as a businessman, at the age of thirty-one. His chosen field of commerce is transportation, where he decides to fill the gap that the great trains of that era cannot. At the same time that he is establishing his business, he meets Henrietta, and from their first meeting he is captivated by her. Although she is much younger than him, she is a strong-willed woman, and circumstances conspire to create a situation in which he marries her after only knowing her for a few months. Thus begins the story of not only their life together, but the story of the newly formed Swann-on-Wheels transportation company. The historical detail in this book is truly fascinating. Even when Delderfield is going through details that should be tedious - train schedules, shipping and transportation issues - he makes it interesting. Adam Swann is a fantastic character, one that you love to root for. And I loved following his marriage and family life, as he and Henrietta grow to know and truly love each other throughout the years. This is the first book in a trilogy, one I am going to have to follow through the rest of the series.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Blaine DeSantis

    Hard for me to rate this book. I loved the writing was great and the story of Adam Swann was outstanding, but I lost some interest as the author delved into other characters and dealt with issues and locales that I was not familiar with. But the story of Swann was really well done, loved how he found his wife, loved her eventual maturation and indispensability to the business. For being a family trilogy this book only covered about 10 years from 1856-66, so I am interested in how the will expand Hard for me to rate this book. I loved the writing was great and the story of Adam Swann was outstanding, but I lost some interest as the author delved into other characters and dealt with issues and locales that I was not familiar with. But the story of Swann was really well done, loved how he found his wife, loved her eventual maturation and indispensability to the business. For being a family trilogy this book only covered about 10 years from 1856-66, so I am interested in how the will expand the future generations and how far into the future he will carry the story. I have the other two books of this series but will hold off on reading the remaining two books for a bit. Apparently I am behind schedule according to Goodreads and my 2016 reading goal. The book is not for everyone and it is not a book that I could breeze through, but it is a book that I really enjoyed and only wish, as you can probably tell, that the story lagged when we got too many peripheral characters involved in the story. But Adam Swann and family are fascinating and I look forward to reading about the future generations of Swann on Wheels!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lora Shouse

    Who would have thought that the history of the founding of a trucking company would be so interesting? To be fair, since the events in this story take place between 1858 and 1865, the company we see at its beginning is actually a carting company, hauling goods around England, Scotland, and Wales in wagons of various descriptions instead of, or as a supplement to, transporting them by train. But this is only the first volume in a trilogy. I’m pretty sure that by the end of the saga the wagons will Who would have thought that the history of the founding of a trucking company would be so interesting? To be fair, since the events in this story take place between 1858 and 1865, the company we see at its beginning is actually a carting company, hauling goods around England, Scotland, and Wales in wagons of various descriptions instead of, or as a supplement to, transporting them by train. But this is only the first volume in a trilogy. I’m pretty sure that by the end of the saga the wagons will have become trucks. In addition to the founding of a company, the story concerns the founding of a family. And the family in question is not limited to Adam Swann’s personal family. The many people who are key to the operations of his business are, in a way, a part of his family too, and their part in creating the business is also told along with Adam’s own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    I had read this one decades ago, but once I had discovered that it had been reprinted, and it was affordable on the Nook, I went for it. Happily this one turned out to be very enjoyable, and full of the sort of things that I like in a historical novel -- lots of detail, interesting people and an engaging story. Those who like their family sagas to be big and meaty, this would be a good fit. Four stars overall, and happily recommended. For the longer review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com I had read this one decades ago, but once I had discovered that it had been reprinted, and it was affordable on the Nook, I went for it. Happily this one turned out to be very enjoyable, and full of the sort of things that I like in a historical novel -- lots of detail, interesting people and an engaging story. Those who like their family sagas to be big and meaty, this would be a good fit. Four stars overall, and happily recommended. For the longer review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/review/Book_G...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elise

    Shamefully, I couldn't get past about 350 pages. It was laborious for me to read this, even though my friend kept telling me,"the ending is so good!" Seriously, I rarely discard a book before I have finished it. I felt I was generous with all the time it took for me to read half of the book. It was so verbose, I just got itchy with frustration. Shamefully, I couldn't get past about 350 pages. It was laborious for me to read this, even though my friend kept telling me,"the ending is so good!" Seriously, I rarely discard a book before I have finished it. I felt I was generous with all the time it took for me to read half of the book. It was so verbose, I just got itchy with frustration.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Finally finished this monster of a novel... I nearly gave up many times during the first half!!! Way too much detail in the business and in the background characters... what kept me going was the relationship between Adam and Henrietta!!! Really likable characters and good storyline just way too long winded!!! Don't think I'll be attempting the two follow-ups!!! Finally finished this monster of a novel... I nearly gave up many times during the first half!!! Way too much detail in the business and in the background characters... what kept me going was the relationship between Adam and Henrietta!!! Really likable characters and good storyline just way too long winded!!! Don't think I'll be attempting the two follow-ups!!!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I love long multi-generational novels. This was a little too detailed in the main character's business - which I hope will be remedied in the 2 sequels. I love long multi-generational novels. This was a little too detailed in the main character's business - which I hope will be remedied in the 2 sequels.

  28. 5 out of 5

    SoulSurvivor

    Surprisingly good , despite length and dated ...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    The Swann saga has been a favourite with my husband ever since he discovered it soon after he began work in the office of a regional haulier and I was quickly enlisted among the fans. The work is very parochial as one could recognise from the title and in spite of Bryn Lovell and his "mulatto" wife and step children. The setting is England at the end of the 1850s and on to 1866 and the hero, Adam Swann, is just back from the Crimea and the India of the Sepoy Mutiny. Those experiences put paid to The Swann saga has been a favourite with my husband ever since he discovered it soon after he began work in the office of a regional haulier and I was quickly enlisted among the fans. The work is very parochial as one could recognise from the title and in spite of Bryn Lovell and his "mulatto" wife and step children. The setting is England at the end of the 1850s and on to 1866 and the hero, Adam Swann, is just back from the Crimea and the India of the Sepoy Mutiny. Those experiences put paid to any desire he had of a military career and he determined to find something meaningful in civilian life. He finds a 17 year old girl running away from her secure home as the daughter of a cotton mill owner in Manchester and "rescues" her to his father's home in Derwentwater. The story unfolds as either the development of a haulage business competing with and then complementing the railroads of the time or as the development of a marriage partnership rare in that period. This is what widens the reading audience for you can read it as social development, as a post marriage romance, or as commercial history. The later volumes bring the story well into the twentieth century and draw on all the technical developments as well as the emotional states of the people involved. The story picks up chapters from the various divisional managers in the same way as George RR Martin does in Song of Fire and Ice so that you are immersed in Lovell's difficulty rescuing a shift of coal miners from a flooded shaft until it is necessary to shift to Edith Wadsworth's takeover of her father's region on the east coast, or the angst at headquarters as Adam tries to find the money to buy a house (part down and the rest in 3 months!) as well as fund whole new teams of Cleveland Bay and Clydesdale horses and new purpose built wagons. Power and capacity are the same whether you're talking about horses or Peterbuilt cabovers and wagons or 54 foot trailers. Delderfield goes on and on about the emotional states of his characters, their motivation and thoughts, and describes the countryside in great detail, including the birds, the weather and the flowers of the various seasons. He obviously loved England passionately and it shows in his writing. I say England because he really does not go up into Scotland and even Wales gets short shrift. Ireland gets no real mention, except in passing as the Irish Question. The only quibble a reader might have is the unlikeliness of the whole thing. Swann brings home a string of priceless rubies (loot under any definition) to fund his startup, he marries the girl he lifts off the moor, he finds the right people (a full range of the English types of the period) and the whole thing develops in spite of anything. Who cares? The story stomps along and you can convince yourself that you, too, could do what Adam and Henrietta pulled off. I think this is about the fourth reading for me and I'm sure I'll read it again.

  30. 5 out of 5

    SraKathy

    I’m sure this is a great work of historical fiction and important for its descriptions of all the various regions of England complete with many details about the topography, agriculture and commerce of each in the 1860’s. Since I’m not English, a lot of that was not very interesting to me. It also has too much detail about the beginnings of the haulier trade in England established by the main character Adam Swann. Delderfield created some very interesting principal characters in Adam, Henrietta, I’m sure this is a great work of historical fiction and important for its descriptions of all the various regions of England complete with many details about the topography, agriculture and commerce of each in the 1860’s. Since I’m not English, a lot of that was not very interesting to me. It also has too much detail about the beginnings of the haulier trade in England established by the main character Adam Swann. Delderfield created some very interesting principal characters in Adam, Henrietta, Sam, the Colonel, Edith, Avery, Deborah, etc. There are some lovely stories about them with surprising twists and turns that hold the reader’s interest. Unfortunately, I found myself trying to grind through page after page of the business detail hoping to get back to the sparsely written story about the people. Hoping the other books in the saga are concentrated on the people.

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