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God Is an Englishman (Swann Saga, #1)
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God Is an Englishman (The Swann Saga #1)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,416 ratings  ·  111 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 695 pages
Published January 9th 2006 by Da Capo Press (first published January 1970)
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Community Reviews

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Laura
Apr 06, 2013 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 3Ms, Kim, Jeannette and Misfit
Recommended to Laura by: Hayes
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...more
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...more
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...more
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!
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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.
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.
Stephen
See my review of To Serve Them All My Days. Same rule applies. An enjoyable tale of making good and raising a family, with many side stories. Read twice over a 30 year span. Jacket blurbs liken the author to Galsworthy and I think Bennett. IMO he does not aspire to write as well as either nor to plumb character as deeply. Fun to read if you like success stories set in the English countryside. There are two sequels that I think fall off a little. If you really like this one, try them also.
Andrew Hoffman
Historical fiction, 1860's English story of a soldier who quits the military to start a hauling business during the second industrial revolution, just as trains are taking over. It is a remarkably told tale of family, entrepreneurship, character and meeting life's challenges. More subtle than other similar books I've read, I did not find it to be a "page turner" except in a few passages. But the story was compelling enough to lodge itself into my imagination and haunt my daily contemplations of...more
Virginia
I can't actually say why I had never read this book. I was 'aware' of it of course and for some reason I was always off put by it. Not sure what I thought it was about....but I was most assuredly wrong. I picked it up on a 'Daily Deal' at Amazon for next to nothing and when I found myself between books decided to give it a go. Quite a surprise it proved to be. An 'historical fiction' selection dealing with a period I enjoy reading about, a family/generational type story that I also am fond of, i...more
Kendra
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...more
Jan
What a brilliant writer, and I had no idea "Carry On" was based on one of his books. Therefore I could not stop with "God is an Englishman" I have just ordered the other two books in the SAGA.

Young Veteran returns from India, disillusioned with military life and the war in India. However, during his last battle, lady luck bestows a gift, a small fortune on him. The Veteran determines to no more waring, resigns his commission and goes into trade. However, he sees "good" in people, and he himself...more
Joyce Lagow
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 en...more
Rebecca
Another reviewer (maybe here on Goodreads?) writes that there was a time in the 1970s when you couldn't get on a New York City subway car without seeing someone reading "God Is an Englishman." I'm trying to figure out why R.F. Delderfield has vanished so completely from popular consciousness since then. Great characters, strong plots, vivid writing: Why are his works considered "genre" period fiction instead of classics?

I'm thinking it might have to do with psychology. I loved Delderfield's char...more
Hayley
Loved this one!! I am so grateful to my Classics Bookclub for forcing me to read it. Set in the mid 1800's (Donna recommended the book due to we are reading Dickens this year, and the book centers on his era and reform), God Is An Englishman is the story of Adam Swann, an army officer fresh off the boat from India, who is ready to make his mark in trade. Since industry is booming, he has to discover what need isn't being met for the public, and how he can best fulfill it. I enjoyed that this nov...more
Jantink
I picked up the sequel (Theirs Was The Kingdom) as an inexpensive read for my Nook, being fond of English literature in general, but quickly realized that I had read this one, the first in the saga, back in high school or college as I remembered the characters. So I hunted this down to read it again and have not been disappointed. The author has a knack for making his characters interesting and relating them to the times in which they live which is unparalleled, IMO, to most any author you might...more
Laurie Riley
Loving this so far. Also outside of my self-prescribed reading time period but I'm liking it. One reviewer has compared this book, which is the first of a series of three, to Thackery and Dickens. I'd say Thackery, yes. Dickens, not quite so much. But it's a great and interesting story about an English, mid-Victorian era entrepreneur. Since I'm going ot England in about 2 weeks, I'm trying to keep up with the back and forth throughout the countryside.

I had to pick this book up as well as its two...more
Karen Richards
The language of this book was excellent (which I'm guessing is why it was suggested to me.) And that's really the best thing I can say about reading this book. It was all about the wagon industry in 18th century England. I really liked the characters in it, but I wish it focused more on developing them instead of the business.
Cheryl
Some parts were fascinating but it went wayyy too long and bogged down in detail. I didn't want to start a delivery company but if you do, this is a "how-to". The writer's pretty liberal, I'm not sure English folk thought like that back in the day concerning mixed marriages, etc. Overall, a good read, but just too long.
Carolyn
I'm actually RE-reading this book - read it the first time in the mid-1980's, when it really helped me in an unexpected way. I just thought I would be able to enjoy one of those rich multi-volume family novels but this was much more. It gave me insight into my father (who began his own business when I was a child) and eventually my husband (who took over the business in the late 1980's) and the power struggle that inevitably resulted, even though my husband was the heir-of-choice. (Although I mu...more
Donna
Jan 24, 2012 Donna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of Victorian/historical fiction
This is the story of the founding of a transportation company in 1860s England as well as the beginning of a family. In some respects I wonder what the likely audience is for this book: I imagine those who are intrigued by the business might not be caught up in the romantic love story. Nonetheless, it is a blockbuster of a book and followed by two more big, fat books which continue the story.

I only wish there had been more maps of England showing rivers and mountain ranges which I suppose nativ...more
Norma F Benton
Love it

I have read this book several times over the years and have enjoyed it each time. I find it interesting to experience life as people in nineteenth century England.
Don Jacobson
This is an epic tale of the rising power of industry in nineteenth century England. It follows a soldier who has had enough of soldiering to his rise in the transportation field. One reviewer thought of it as historical fiction. I thought it a four out of five stars book through most of it, but it dropped to three stars. Most of the main characters were a little too good and the story line was a little too contrived. The author, however, does work progressive politics into the story. I could not...more
Linda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Craig
A re-read after 20 years or so. First in the Swann trilogy, and probably the best. What I liked: the whole thing has the feel of something written not too long after the events described - late 19th/early 20th century. What I didn't like: too much of all three novels is taken up with expository-type writing, on the family and its members, on the business, and on world affairs, and too much is repetitive. That helps give the period feel, but also gets tiresome in the 2nd and esp. the 3rd book - a...more
Elizabeth
I could not finish this book. I did not like his writing style; he tells you the story rather than having dialogue.
Tamliving
I read Delderfield's To Serve Them All My Days about 10 years ago, and still remember the feelings. So I picked this up at the bookstore and "dove in". I love the era- and getting to understand how people lived and risked at this time. It is a long one, but I did stay connected to the main characters and the saga. I read this this summer when my daughter Carole was visiting with her three kiddos. It was a great "get away/relaxer" that helped me relax and dream a little just before sleep each nig...more
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Ronald Frederick Delderfield (12 February 1912 – 24 June 1972) was a popular English novelist and dramatist, many of whose works have been adapted for television and are still widely read.

Several of Delderfield's historical novels and series involve young men who return from war and lead lives in England that allow the author to portray the sweep of English history and delve deeply into social his...more
More about R.F. Delderfield...
To Serve Them All My Days Theirs Was the Kingdom (Swann Saga, #2) Give Us This Day (Swann Saga, #3) Green Gauntlet Diana

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