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God Is An Englishman (2006)

God Is an Englishman (2006)

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4.05 of 5 Votes: 5
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0786717505 (ISBN13: 9780786717507)
da capo press

About book God Is An Englishman (2006)

I’m not sure how I ended up with a copy of God Is An Englishman on my Kindle...I’d never heard of the book or the author, R.F. Delderfield. God Is An Englishman is the first in a trilogy and was published in 1970. The second book in the trilogy, Theirs was the Kingdom, was published the year of the author’s death, in 1972 and the final book, Give Us This Day, was published after his death, in 1973.God Is An Englishman is set in 19th Century England during the Industrial Revolution. The world is changing...and people are struggling to change with it. The main character in the book is Adam Swann. Adam has been away at war for many years and upon returning home he decides to give up his military commission for a life in trade. Adam starts a business and his family from nothing but his dreams and perseverance. Although the story centers on Adam, the book ventures off and spends a lot of time with many other characters. The reader is able to experience different perspectives and side-stories through the diverse characters but we are always brought back to Adam and his business. Everything centers on the business. Every decision, every character, every action.The story only spans about 8 years but it feels like much more. There is a lot of details (too much at times). I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the base story but there really was way too much detail that I felt wasn’t important. I skimmed large portions, especially when the chapters centered on the many different employees working for Adam.And, I have to remark on the author’s style of writing. It can be VERY confusing. When I first started the book, I wasn’t sure I could stick with it. There were many times I didn’t even understand the meaning. But, I hung in there, got used to the writing style and pace, and (for the most part) figured it out. I’ll add some writing excerpts below so you’ll get a taste but if you're a historical fiction fan, don't let the excerpts scare you off. There are also many times when the author expects the reader to be very familiar with Britain and British history; I’m sure the story would be more meaningful and be a bit easier to understand if the reader were British.Overall, I did enjoy this book and I hope to read the other two in the series. But, it took me a very long time to get through (apparently the paperback is 656 pages but it was the writing style that slowed me down the most) so I’ll take a break from the story for now and pick it up again later.Excerpts:In a year or so a dozen gaol-like factories were belching their bad breath to a sky that only a few years before had been washed clean by the soft rain of the Lake District not far to the north. Thousands of back-to-back two-room dens had been run up by the jerry-builders to house the operatives for the few hours they spent in them between interminable stints at loom and shuttle.The monster that resulted from a marriage of Sam’s notions of domestic grandeur and the fumblings of an inexperienced architect was possibly the most eye-catching structure in the world, not excluding some of the new municipal townhalls that were being run up with cheap, ready-made materials made available by the new railway network.

Set in mid-19th century England, as the Industrial Revolution has taken firm hold. Adam Swann, following family tradition, is a former soldier, an officer in the East India Company’s army. Disillusioned with Army life after the Crimea and the Sepoy rebellion, he resigns his commission, returning to England in possession of a necklace he accidentally recovered from the battle at Jhansi; he is determined to make a career in commerce, with the necklace providing his starting capital. A fortunate encounter with a railway stationmaster at Plymouth sets his course: he will start a horse-drawn haulage system, filling those gaps in transportation where the railroads do not serve. Another equally accidental and also fortunate encounter introduces him to the remarkable young woman who will become his wife, Henrietta Rawlinson, daughter of Sam Rawlinson, a mill owner. and one of the rags-to-riches ruthless men who ran the nascent industries of England in that time.What follows is a fascinating story of that period. I’ve never read such a good description, in fiction, of the times--of the rise of the industry-blighted cities like Manchester, of the plight of the factory workers, of the fight for labor’s rights, of the type of people who inhabited the island at that time--still far from homogeneous, each district distinct in its history and culture, yet each peopled by Englishmen.In a way, his characters are too good to be true, but who cares? If I want to read about dissolute, cynical, depraved, dystopian or otherwise unpleasant Americans or Englishmen, for that matter, I can pick up almost any contemporary novel and get my fill. Fine, but I don’t even need that--I can read the newspapers. What I like about this very well written novel is that it is upbeat without being unrealistic or in any way simpering. I can cheer the Swanns on, I can relish Delderfield’s obvious pride in his countrymen--and I can marvel that, written some 40 years ago, Delderfield was such a feminist! That’s the real surprise of the book.This is the first in the Swann family saga, and I’m looking forward to reading the next chapter.

Do You like book God Is An Englishman (2006)?

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 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.
—Reagan Ramsey

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:
—Rebecca Huston

Entertaining novel about England in the start of the Industrial RevolutionDelderfield contrasts England's rail with the traditional horse wagon method of transporting goods and people. He does this by following entrepreneur Adam Swan as he builds an empire of wagons which transport goods across the entire United Kingdom. As usual, his development of the main characters in the story is sublime, showing their weaknesses and strengths, and how human endurance and perseverance c a n conquer all. His detailed description of England's Burroughs and rural communities was a bit tedious at times, but that was probably because I am not that familiar with England's topography. Overall a very enjoyable read and I look forward to the sequels.
—Hans Doreleyers

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