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

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  2,448 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews
From master author R. F. Delderfield, the first in the beloved classic God Is an Englishman series.

The first novel in the epic God Is an Englishman series, this book is a stirring saga of England in the 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution takes hold, forever changing the landscape of England and her people.

Adam Swann, scion of an army family, returns home in 1858 af
ebook, 656 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published January 1970)
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Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to sample Delderfield after finishing the Poldark series and having withdrawal symptoms. I wanted another family I could sink my teeth into and become completely involved in. This novel was set in the same time frame as Poldark, but actually covers completely different issues, so I stopped comparing the two and just settled down to enjoy this story as a thing apart. That worked out fine, because there is a lot to enjoy here.

Adam Swann is a very interesting and smart character and his a
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, angst, historical, 2017
Overall I enjoyed this novel although I have to admit to enjoying some parts more so than others.
It's rich in period detail, in some ways an "old fashioned" read. The story of Adam Swann his family and his "other family" who make up his haulage business during the Industrial Revolution and beyond.

It was the secondary characters that I felt more in tune with - some great characters on offer. Far more "readable" than I'd originally thought.

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
Sep 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delderfield is one of my all-time favorite authors. Along with Nevil Shute, his assorted types of tales include multiple multiple re-reads.

This first book in the Swann series is the only one of his thick sagas with sequels that have enthralled me in subsequent reading visits. I prefer his more compact, standalone stories.

For folks new to Delderfield, this may be the best of his books to start with. The series were bestsellers. The characters are people I enjoy spending time with and the setting
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Vicki Seldon
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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!
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sagas
Boy, I reads this eons ago and remember loving it!!
Reagan Ramsey
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fiction, e
It took me time to get into the book but once I did, I really enjoyed it. Good historical fiction with likeable characters and a great plot. Just sometimes too many details and explanations could have been edited. I like a long book, but over 700 pages is a bit too long.
I will certainly read the sequel, even though it's just as long.
Adam Swann entered Addiscombe College as a cadet when he was 18. At 31, he was ready to leave the military life. During his last battle, he had killed a man carrying a small casket and he managed to open it and find a ruby necklace. Adam used his recover time used to research the industrial revolution going on back home in Europe. He returned home and traveled the country to get to know it again. He met and spoke with a railway captain and set about determining how to start an overland freight h ...more
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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:
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-books, own
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.
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e, historical-fiction
I really began to enjoy this historical novel after the first 400 pages, but it really was worth the effort, even if it took me nearly a month to finish! An interesting story, very well written, wonderful characters and a period that is fascinating (1860s). Just a bit too much detail about the workings of the haulage firm.
Nov 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
The Swann saga has been a favourite with my husband ever since he discovered it soon after he began work in the office of a regional haulier and I was quickly enlisted among the fans. The work is very parochial as one could recognise from the title and in spite of Bryn Lovell and his "mulatto" wife and step children. The setting is England at the end of the 1850s and on to 1866 and the hero, Adam Swann, is just back from the Crimea and the India of the Sepoy Mutiny. Those experiences put paid to ...more
I read this because I quite liked To Serve Them All My Days, but looking back I realize the subject matter of that novel (anti-war WWI book about a boys school) masked a lot of what frustrated me about this one. The concept of tracing a family business is intriguing, but to put it bluntly the book is governed by so much messianic paternalism that I wanted to vomit.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Delderfield, but got bogged down in the geography of the roads in the first part of this book. Not living in England, it meant nothing to me, even with a map. Quit after 200 pages, but may go back and try again.
Carolin R Brock
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delderfeld portrays a wonderful historical view of the times of his novels. His characters and plots are rich and intriging.
Janet Clark
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-1970-s
It's been many years since I read this, but I remember it being interesting to me.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
long, intriguing historical novel, to sink your teeth in and not want to let go.
Sara Petersen
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tedious, and detailed, and as exhaustive as life sometimes but oh so worth it. Loved it.
Review to follow.
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
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
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
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kelsey Tuller
Jun 03, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I never don't finish books I start, but I had to stop half way through this one. I just didn't want to read it anymore sooo badly. I kept thinking about everything else on my shelf that I wanted to read over this book. I knew going in that a book about the Victorians, written by a man in the 1950's was going to be dripping with racism, sexism and classism, but damn. It was no longer interesting when I realized that no matter what happened Adam Swann was 1.Always right and 2.Always came out on to ...more
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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
More about R.F. Delderfield...

Other Books in the Series

The Swann Saga (3 books)
  • Theirs Was the Kingdom (Swann Saga, #2)
  • Give Us This Day (Swann Saga, #3)

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