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To Serve Them All My Days (2006)

To Serve Them All My Days (2006)

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4.26 of 5 Votes: 3
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0340839902 (ISBN13: 9780340839904)
hodder & stoughton

About book To Serve Them All My Days (2006)

"...a book about a ... more modern England, an England emerging from the horrors and bloodshed of the 1914-18 war into the twenty years of change, upheaval and uneasy peace that ended with the Second World War."[The] hero is a schoolmaster, David Powlett-Jones, who survives the dreary carnage of the Western to become a teacher at a remote English 'public' school, gradually maturing from a shell-shocked veteran scarcely older than his charges into a great headmaster, whose influence touches and changes the lives of hundreds of boys who pass through his care."No living English writer can match Mr. Delderfield in his ability to encompass whole generations, to show, in loving detail and with a scrupulous attention to truth, the vast changes in an England moving from the comfortable certainties of the Victorian Age through the tragedies of the Great War, the moral perplexities of the Twenties, the great strikes, the years of the slump and the dole of the hungry Thirties, on into the glorious Forties, in which England atoned for the appeasement and isolation of the Age of Illusion. His sense of history, his loving re-creation of real events, his almost Churchillian understanding of the English character and genius, have led critics to compare him with such great masters of the traditional English novel as Trollope and Galsworthy, comparisons which grow more apt with each new novel from his pen."Yet there is more here than history, for Delderfield is above all a master storyteller, whose characters take on lives of their own and exercise such power over our imaginations that they become part of ourselves. Powlett-Jones, whose happy marriage -- doomed as it were, by the sense that no happiness could emerge or survive from an experience like the 1914-18 war -- ends in unexpected tragedy, gains, through his experience, his friends and his boys, the wisdom, strength of character, honesty and common sense that make it possible for him to bear the loss of his beloved wife, to endure a decade of intrigue and rivalry over the control of the school that has become his life, and to emerge as a man of remarkable strength and passion, fulfilled in love, accepting as headmaster the heavy charge of preparing his boys for a life of uncertainty and violent change, teaching that the old English values of honesty, courage and a love of justice are still worthwhile even in the age of Hitler and Stalin."Those qualities that have made Delderfield's novels best sellers are more than ever in evidence in this deeply moving book about the England of his own youth and maturity; in it, he has written the saga of his generation, and made of it a classic, sinewy, packed with incident and characters, illumined by a wise and deeply compassionate view of human nature and the English experience."~~front and back flapsWhew! That was some review, wasn't it? But it touched on why I loved this book, and all the others in this same genre: "the old English values of honesty, courage and a love of justice are still worthwhile." These sorts of books are my comfort and escape from the world today which often seems so barbarous and without any values other than greed and amorality.I loved the characters, I loved the story itself.

This book was first published in England in 1972 and is probably the most well known of R.F.Delderfield's novels. It is over 600 pages in length and immensely readable. It follows the life of miner's son David Powlett-Jones from the point where he returns from the carnage of world war 1 in 1918 severely shell-shocked and devastated by the horrifying conditions of life in the trenches and the dreadful toll of deaths. He starts life again as a schoolmaster at a small public school in Devon in charge of boys, the eldest of whom are not that much younger than he is. The novel follows him through the years of his life spent there. There is both sadness and joy as in most lives as he learns to adjust and turn into a very talented history teacher and a valued member of staff. I found this book to be totally absorbing and it gripped me throughout. Though there is much descriptive background it never bores. The novel has a real emotional poignancy that touched me deeply. The contrasting characters are beautifully drawn and are written with great depth. It is a very moving book and a fascinating read! I confess I did get a little bogged down in parts where the story went into the politics of the time, but that is a personal opinion only. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

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I simply wallowed in this book almost smelling the lavender polish on the wood of the school. I was taught by men who were probably the pupils in this sort of school. To them your own achievement and sense of self worth was more important than exam results that the current age is obsessed with. The boys in the book radiated decency and honesty deep down. There were clear boundaries of good conduct and morals which carried the characters in good stead throughout life. The battered shellshocked WWI boy/man who arrives is slowly healed by the school and it's Headmaster. His faith in mankind is restored by the steadyness of the school's atmosphere and routine. Gradually he is able to form relationships again and marries. The book takes him through crises and out the other side right through to being able to cope with seeing his own pupils getting involved in WWII and paying the ultimate price. He recognises the necessity of the war for the survival of Great Britain and is able to feel a pride in their sacrifice as well as the futility in the battle he fought in WWI. The book as a whole takes world events and shows how they affected individuals. The individuals then leave a legacy which is up to the next generation to carry on or disgard.

What a wonderful, beautiful book. I was so sad when its 400+ pages were done - they had flown by. It explores the period spanning from the end of WWI into the beginning of WWII with grace, sensitivity, and a very sympathetic protagonist. The reader comes to appreciate Bamfylde as much as PJ does. Near the end of the book, I had a moment when I set it down because the approach the author took to explaining what was happening historically and what the experience of that was actually like gave me a fresh insight into it that was so potent as to be startling. I highly recommend it and can't wait to start on God is an Englishman.

3 1/2 StarsI think I deserve one of those shiny silver star stickers on my forehead for getting through all 678 pages! My paperback was literally falling apart in my hands and required frequent sticky tape first aid as I read.As my friends know, I love chunky sagas and epics but I'll be honest with you. You could EASILY chop 200 pages off this without affecting the story one iota.IN A NUTSHELL: A shell shock soldier ( WW1) is discharged from a lengthy hospital stay and is encouraged to take a post at a boys boarding school by his neurologist. What follows is 20 years as a teacher and mentor and how one school gave a shell of a man a new lease on life and reason to live.The first half was 5 stars for me but I wish his first wife could have held up a bit longer (I'm not spoiling it, its in the description and come on, it covers 20 years so nothing is permanent) I really liked her a lot and wished things could have been different. His future love interests I didn't care for so much.One character is very into politics and my eyes start glazing over when you mention Tories and liberals, so you can imagine I found these bits hard going. The school subjects/methods also got a little tedious after a while but it is a book about a boarding school so what did I expect, right? For anyone in the education field this book would be fascinating.I really loved the stories about the individual boys and their escapades. Their nicknames were entertaining as well. I come from a family where no one uses anyone's real names and we have nicknames for everyone else we know too (some know it and most don't!) so I could relate to this. Some nicknames:Matron. Heavy, full busted and highly corseted: MA FENDERStudent with one missing *ahem* appendage: LACKANACKERTeacher with one toe missing and a rolling gait: TUMBLERTeacher with comaraderie classroom discussions: POW-WOWThe list goes on and on....The writing itself is very readable and the characters well portrayed and individualistic. It's a good story and worth reading.But I'm glad I'm done. :)CONTENT:SEX: Fade to blackVIOLENCE: NonePROFANITY: Moderate. D, B, HMY RATING: PG 13By the way, I started watching the BBC series 'To Serve Them All My Days ' on youtube and have enjoyed it very much! The characters seem well portrayed and it sticks quite closely to the book. Well done!

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