Saturday, September 12, 2009

God Is An Englishman by R. F. Delderfield

It's 1858, and Adam Swann has just left Her Majesty's service. Not sure exactly what he wants to do with his life but blessed with some capital, a chance encounter with a railway official starts him thinking. He decides that there is a gap in the haulage industry; getting goods from the train to their final destination, and determines that he will fill this gap. It's the perfect time for such a venture. The Industrial Revolution is just starting, and Adam gets in on the ground floor.

Another encounter sets his life story. Henrietta is the daughter of the local factory owner, and his heiress. Charming but spoiled, a wild captivating streak that is quickly apparent makes Adam determined to win her. When he does, and they marry, her father disinherits her, but that doesn't matter. Adam and Henrietta are one of the great love stories. Their lives together make for a stirring story.

I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that R. F. Delderfield's books were being re-released. God Is An Englishman is the first book in a trilogy about these characters. I read this series thirty years ago, and reading it again was just as satisfying this time around. I'd always remembered it as one of those steller series that work their way into your soul, and it didn't disappoint on the second reading. The series is a sweeping historical epic, and the reader gets a birdeye view of English society, the way industry changed the landed vs. landless power structure, everyday culture, and more. The love story is fascinating, and it is a rare reader that wouldn't be mesmerized by the twists and turns of Adam and Henrietta's relationship. I usually end a review with a recommendation for which readers would like the book. I can't do that here, because I can't imagine any reader that wouldn't love this series. This series is, then, recommended for all readers, but especially for those lovers of historical fiction.

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

I totally agree. I first read God is an Englishman in the 70's quickly read the following two novels. I can't say how many times I've re-read them, as they never lose their appeal. I really enjoy all of Delderfield's works and count them as some of the best fiction I have ever had the pleasure to read.