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Theirs Was the Kingdom by R. F. Delderfield

Theirs Was the Kingdom (1971)

by R. F. Delderfield

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362542,591 (3.85)13



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3.5 - rounded down.

The second book in a three-part series that began with God is an Englishman. I did not like this book as much as the first one, primarily because I think a good editor could have cut it by a good 250 pages. There is much time spent on offshoot characters, detailed business dealings, and repetition and it detracts from the stories which are interesting and which you really want Delderfield to get back to. In the end, I found myself dissatisfied and wanting to restructure and rewrite whole sections.

Much of the history in the book is well-researched and accurate, but there is also a touch of anachronism in some of the actions and attitudes that reflect more toward the time in which the book is being written than the time in which it is set. Several times I had to stop and think about whether I found certain elements believable in 1885 or whether they didn’t seem more akin to 1970.

Can you say all those negative things about a book and then say you are pleased to have read it? There are moments when I was completely hooked and anxious to see where the thread was leading. There were moments when he surprised me and the plot took a turn I did not expect, and I enjoyed that feeling that perhaps I did not know where every path would lead. And, I keep thinking that if I had read this series before I read the Poldark books, I might have liked it better. I keep drawing comparisons and Delderfield keeps losing out to Winston Graham.
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  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Repetitious and very old-fashioned in its views on gender and sexuality. Not that this will be a surprise to anyone, but while in other of him books the overall charm has won me over, the interest in this book is wearing thinner. ( )
  comixminx | Apr 5, 2013 |
860 pages Paperback, Book Two of Swann Saga. From the Dusty plains and bloody battles of India to the teeming slums of 19th century London, this is the epic saga of Adam Swann, the dynasty he founded, and the tempestuous runaway girl he met on the moors who became his mistress, wife and partner. Normally do not like book cover descriptions but this one says it all! ( )
  BarbaraGriffiths | Dec 8, 2010 |
1433 Theirs Was the Kingdom, by R. F. Delderfield (read 13 Feb 1977) This is the second of the trilogy Delderfield wrote on his mythical character Adam Swann, and takes him to age 63 and the year 1889. Much of the book is devoted to marrying his six kids off. It all seems contrived and jerry-built, but as one reads along it does catch one up. But it is not Trollope or Galsworthy. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jan 29, 2009 |
This is one of those "family saga"/"sweeping epics" that I would have eaten up when I was in high school. There is more interwoven historical detail than bodice ripping, but otherwise this book is right up there with John Jakes's Bicentenial series and other books of the 1970s school of historical novels. Meaning that the men are all strong, the women are all lusty, the hero is moral but misunderstood, the villans are evil and usually deformed. The characters don't have much depth, but there are a lot of them, and separate plots involve each of them. Unfortunately, while the story is interesting, the writing is a little much. This is a typical sentence (yes, one sentence):

"It was only then that he remembered the fearful risks Avery was running by coming here, a man with a double murder charge hanging over him and no means, at this distance, to establish his innocence, for who would be likely to believe that a rake like Avery had shot a man in self-defence after a whore had squeezed him dry, and afterwards fled into the night in the back of one of Swann's frigates as far as Harwich, where he had bribed a Dutch skipper to carry him to the Continent."


I gave it three stars because I think it is a two-star book for adults, but would be a four-star book for younger readers. If younger readers stil read historical fiction, this would be appropriate -- it is definitely PG and the history is interesting.
  RoseCityReader | May 18, 2008 |
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For my old friend and colleague Eric McKenzie, as enterprising as any Swann. Salesman and cheer-leader extraordinary.
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Towards noon, when Swann's carters, stablemen and vanboys gathered in the yard and about the sprawl of sheds and warehouses, munching their bread and cheese and spilling shards of pastry from penny pies bought at the stand lower down Tooley Street, cohorts of London sparrows attended them.
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Book description
860 pages Paperback, Book One of Swann Saga. From the Dusty plains and bloody battles of India to the teeming slums of 19th century London, this is the epic saga of Adam Swann, the dynasty he founded, and the tempestuous runaway girl he met on the moors who became his mistress, wife and partner. Normally do not like book cover descriptions but this one says it all!
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671210246, Hardcover)

The second book in R.F. Delderfield's Swann family saga. Adam Swann's expanding business empire now stretches as far north as the Scottish Highlands and as far west as the Dublin Pale. Alex, his elder son, is a professional solder; George is a pioneer of the motor industry and his adopted daughter Deborah works to uncover the terrible injustices facing working-class women. The great edifice of the British Empire is beginning to crumble, and as the gap between prosperity and poverty widens Victorian England can no longer afford to be complacent ...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The eagerly awaited reissue of the second novel in R. F. Delderfield's classic God Is an Englishman series Theirs Was the Kingdom is a stirring saga of England in the late 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution takes hold, forever changing the landscape of England and her people. The 1880s in England were a laissez-faire decade of national optimism and prosperity, of rampant colonialism, typhoid epidemics, and a Diamond Jubilee. This follow-up novel to God Is an Englishman continues the saga of the Victorian giant of commerce Adam Swann, his tough-minded wife Henrietta, and their five children. This prolific tale records the triumphs and tragedies of a memorable family and a nation at the height of its imperial power. A beloved novel by a beloved author, Theirs Was the Kingdom is a luminous historical novel of a family's fortune and a nation's destiny.… (more)

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