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To Serve Them All My Days
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To Serve Them All My Days

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  2,198 ratings  ·  218 reviews
Young David Powlett-Jones, a Welsh miner's son, is invalided home from France when he suffers severe shell shock on the Western Front. At a remote English public school in Devon the debilitated veteran, himself barely out of his teens, decides temporarily to try his hand at teaching while striving to awaken from the nightmare of World War I -- the national catastrophe that ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published December 5th 2005 by Hodder And Stoughton (first published January 1st 1972)
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4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,198 ratings  ·  218 reviews

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Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-ever
We saw the 1980 Masterpiece Theatre series compliments of Netflix. Then I wanted to read the book. The series followed the storyline almost completely. Reading the book after seeing hours of the characters on the film, made it seem like visiting old friends. Below is from the end flaps of the 1972 first printing of the book (obtained on order from the local library).
"... an England emerging from the horrors and bloodshed of the 1914-18 war into the twenty years of change, upheaval and uneasy pe
This is a book that must be reviewed. I mustn't have been reviewing then. I will remedy this asap. I loved this book. Then I bought it after giving away my second hand copy. This is a book to hold onto. One of the kids Headmaster's enjoyed it too, I raved about it. Glad my dad passed it onto me :)
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Very rarely do I find a book that captures so much of my mind that I read every word. This was one of those books! It embraced a heart for teaching, a passion for history, a draw to love, and a strength through hardship all in a landscape of a prep school in England. Looking at life between the two wars that both engulfed the world, from the perspective of a small, secluded, and hidden piece of the earth was one of the most interesting perspectives I have been immersed in! It challenged my mind ...more
C Mac
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
hello all

friend told me to try this book
thought to myself

my grandparents escaped the slums
of Victorian London
to live in Canada

don't want to read book about training
the English upper class

grabbed hold of me
when it ended
it was as if a small part of the world died

another books as ships story

ship that takes you away to another
time and place
took me to another time another place

yours truly

Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I sometimes still wake up in the morning and look forward to reading more about P.J. and Bamfylde. The book could have gone on another thousand pages as far as I'm concerned and I would have been riveted. Very English. A great tutorial on the British Boys' School and how that effects their society.
3 1/2 Stars

I 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 po
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable novel. A clear evocation of an era long gone by; sentimental in the best sense of that word—honest about what matters, valuing it, and figuring out how to live in it. The story takes place between two wars, the first and the second--the big ones, as they are often characterized--and follows the career of a veteran of the first who comes to this lonely outpost for healing. He finds himself here—a teacher‚ and grounds himself. It is a nostalgic book; at times, a very sad book--I read ...more
Jan 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
A British boys' boarding school, in the period between the two world wars provides the setting for this lengthy novel about a shell shocked young man who takes on a temporary job as a teacher and ends up spending the next 22 years gradually learning to love everything about his life as a school master, housemaster and eventually the headmaster. For those of us Anglophiles who loved Hogwarts School of Wizardy, Bamfylde is the next best thing and actually goes a long ways to helping us understand ...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
I really enjoyed this (the subject of a Masterpiece Theatre back in the early 80s) story of an English schoolmaster at a country "public school" from 1918-1940.
Apr 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Read this last year along with Delderfield's trilogy A Horseman Riding By, now he is one of my favourite authors.
Behind all the stories is the larger theme of the beautiful Western Civilisation as it manifested itself in country life in Wales and Southwest England before the Great War and how the tremendous loss of life and morals impacted on that previously sheltered world.
As a Jew I notice that RFD includes at least one, usually of foreign origin, Jewish character in each of his books and trea
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
The television mini-series is even better, because Andrew Davies is a god of page-to-screen adaptation.
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain, hf-euro, 1970s, ww1
PBS version one of few books that I'd rather re-see than re-read
Apr 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 WW
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Adaptation of RF Delderfield's classic drama set between the two world wars.

SPLENDID!! I just mooched another book by this author.
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 char ...more
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am a sucker for a good period novel, I admit it. And R.F. Delderfield has always scratched that niche for me nicely. On a recent beach trip I decided to revisit "To Serve Them All My Days", one of my very favorite Delderfield novels. It's the story of a WWI veteran, just returned from the front with a severe case of PTSD. The prescribed cure is a stint in an enclosed community focused on work and camaraderie: in this case, an English public school. I don't know that in modern times we would pu ...more
Rebecca Huston
Sep 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
A beautiful novel set in a boarding school between the World Wars. Lt. David Powlett-Jones arrives in the countryside, suffering shell-shock and looking to find a way back into the land of the living. Along the way, he finds love, friendship, hope, and tragedy. Terrific novel, made into a great BBC miniseries.

For the longer review, please go here:
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2004-5-season
FANTASTIC. Far superior to Mr Chips, It works on many levels - as a teacher, student story, as an anti-war novel, as an insight into an overshadowed period of British History and as a sprawling, epic novel.
Mar 29, 2017 added it
DNF. Too much British slang for this California girl.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
I read all of this series years ago and loved them; I learned more history from this series than in any classroom and it made more sense too! The changes wrought upon England by WW I were earth-shaking; all of society was forever changed, as were those who were involved in the actual combat and serving at home. Glad to know they're still in print and being read!!
Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, read-in-2014
"...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 c
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic - Delderfield is a fantastic writer, and though I was disappointed to find that this was his final book (published in 1972, the year he died), I am delighted to see that he was a pretty prolific writer and there is much more for me to enjoy in his other works.

David Powlett-Jones is blown out of a trench in 1918 and shipped back to England to recuperate, never to return to the battlefront in Europe - physically recoverable but suffering from shell-shock. His doctor suggests that he con
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. It was written in the 1970's, I believe, and the style of the writing is definitely older in character. I really enjoyed the proper English, I enjoyed the great use of language and the character development...many of the characters just popped out of the page for me, except for one: Mr. Carter. I never did get a good picture of him. The story is about a man, David Powlett-Jones, wounded and shell-shocked in WWI, who takes a teaching job in a remote all-boys school i ...more
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Re-reading this novel always makes me even more sure that teaching is the most undervalued profession in our world. David Powlett-Jones' story is always a source of renewed faith for me - in more ways than one. In no other profession, except possibly a religious vocation, is the gift of oneself so important and so rewarding. For all those who offer their knowledge, experience, and core beliefs to others I give my utmost gratitude. Whether we teach in a classroom, at a kitchen table, or in our im ...more
Aug 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Twenty plus years in the life of a British schoolmaster, from the end of the first World War to the start of the second. Davy Powlett-Jones arrives at Bamfylde as a shell-shocked young man without the social background or degree to survive in the world of a privileged public (i.e. private) school. The headmaster, however, sees something in him that makes him hire Davy, who gradually comes to love the school and its students.

This is a perfect book for those who love British school stories, but wa
Jan 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Aug 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first 60 pages were a bit of a grind for me, but the last 534 were wonderful and I will definitely read this author again. This is a saga about a boy's school and a particular teacher that spans about twenty years. I enjoyed the perspective and how the history of the time period that begins in 1914 is woven through the story. This story feels very personal and although it is fictional, it reads as if it were non-fiction. I have ordered the BBC miniseries from my library and am looking forwar ...more
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A school book if ever I read one, and not one bit boring at that. Delderfield tells the story of the Great War soldier who is discharged with shellshock, and recuperates by teaching in a school on the moors of Devon. Pupils and teachers are characterised vividly, with drama, tragedy and humour dished out in equal measures. Time appears to repeat itself when the Second World War arrives - and the Headmaster who served in WW1 is now doing what his predecessor did at that time. Keeping track of his ...more
Apr 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although it got long towards the end. This is a story about a young man who returns from WWI a shell-shocked soldier, and is placed as an English teacher in a boys' boarding school in the country, as as way to heal. He ends up making this his career. I loved the plot, characters, descriptions of the time and place, etc.

It's interesting - I never could get into the author's better known book: God is an Englishman.
Jim Kittelberger
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book. Bought it at a book sale for fifty cents, then discovered it was made into a miniseries on Masterpiece theater. I bought that for considerably more than fifty cents, but loved it anyway. There should be some great words of wisdom to impart from those two events, but alas none. I still love the book. I may buy it for my Kindle.
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British Literature: September 2012 Book 4 17 Sep 13, 2012 05:49AM  
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Ronald Frederick Delderfield 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 history from the Edwardian era to the
“One of these days the entire Western world will grind to a halt, its apparatus clogged with forms, files and memoranda.” 6 likes
“père was an excitable little man, prone to rush from behind the” 0 likes
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