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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 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.

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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. This is not an easy read but it is well worth spending the time it takes.

I loved this book on so many levels.

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R. F. Delderfield - Wikipedia

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! View 1 comment. May 26, Susan's Reviews rated it it was amazing. 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. 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.

R. F. Delderfield

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. 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. 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. I love a saga, and I very much enjoyed this. Also like Poldark, he's more socially enlightened than his peers. 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. May 01, Susan rated it really liked it. 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. 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 Another enjoyable read I found as a result of researching books for a reading challenge. Boy, I reads this eons ago and remember loving it!! Jul 19, Tripp rated it really liked it. 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 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.

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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. Apr 15, Reagan Ramsey rated it really liked it. Adam was a great leader who inspired integrity and hard work, even in his absence. Jan 20, Sarah rated it really liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , e. I really began to enjoy this historical novel after the first 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 s. Just a bit too much detail about the workings of the haulage firm. Nov 04, Claude rated it really liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , e. 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 pages is a bit too long. I will certainly read the sequel, even though it's just as long. Historical novel taking place in the late 's early '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. Adam Swann entered Addiscombe College as a cadet when he was 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 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.


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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.


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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. 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.

Review: God Is an Englishman, R.F. Delderfield

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, 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.

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 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. A beloved novel by a beloved author, God Is an Englishman is a treasure both for Delderfield fans and the growing legion of fans of historical fiction. An epic historical novel artfully contructed. Account Options Sign in. My library Help Advanced Book Search. Get print book. God Is an Englishman. Sourcebooks Landmark , - Fiction - pages. From master author R. Delderfield is a born storyteller.