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Long Summer Day by R. F. Delderfield
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Long Summer Day (1966)

by R. F. Delderfield

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Long Summer Day by RF Delderfield is the first of a 3-book series known collectively as A Horseman Riding By. I saw the original BBC Masterpiece Theatre 1978 version and decided I would like to read the book.

We follow the Squire of Shallowford, Paul Craddock from his recovery of injuries sustained in the Boer War to the purchase of his Devon Estate.

The book is lyrical, long and lovingly written, something to be savoured, not rushed through. It borders on being a pleasantly romantic portrayal of pastoral England. Delderfield's writing is brilliant in many places but occasionally I found myself impatient with the slow pace. Other times, I was thoroughly immersed in the stories of the Squire, his marital circumstances, acquaintances, servants and the many tenant farmers. The characters are very well drawn, so that even with a huge cast of Valley dwellers, you aren't left feeling confused. Partly, this is because the author uses repetition widely in his narrative. I appreciated this fact, but other readers may chafe at this.

Squire Craddock is a young man with old fashioned ideas and a well defined sense of justice. We have an in depth view of the every day workings of the estate, the transition to the modern era of motor cars and telephones, politics and the suffragettes.

I will certainly want to continue the saga of Shallowford in the 2 following books. While not exactly fine literature, anyone drawn to England in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries will find much to enjoy in Long Summer Day. ( )
  Zumbanista | Aug 5, 2015 |
I've read a few Delderfield works at this point in life. To Serve Them All My Days, the God is an Englishman trilogy, Napoleon's Marshalls. But it has been a few years.

I don't remember if those works had two annoying things I found in this work that I wish to mention and then move on. Long Paragraphs, sometimes 3 pages long. This is hard on the eyes. And something the writer can't address any longer. The other was that a paragraph would start with dialogue from one speaker and end with dialogue from another. Please, break up the dialogue with paragraphs. (Perhaps if ever released again an editor would do their job and edit the work.)

Now to the meat of it. The story is good. The character development is good though sometimes a little to pat. We need a character as a plot device and so we have that trait emerge. We see the world of Pre Great War England and the skirmishing of Tory (Conservative) and Unionist (Labour)

We see the treatment of Suffragettes. The change of Motor and Phone beginning just as we saw Trains in God is an Englishman. Sometimes we spend unnecessary pages having the same rundown of what is happening to many characters in the book that we had a chapter before. Delderfield uses devices such as a gull flying in search of food all throughout the valley so we can see what each character is up to every few years and realize that we have read that a few dozen pages before.

So why read this book. One would think it is dated in the 21st century, but it addresses a time a century ago, and one that the writer is familiar enough with to give us a good insight into. One that has things we should take a peak at.

It is a historical, and certainly in some of the characterizations we see an older, male hand trying to write the mind of a teenager, which does not work (Delderfields worldly wise Grace is too worldly wise and her adult assumptions should be changed for simpler emotional and youthful ones IMO.) But as mentioned, worth a read, and perhaps one day worth a reread immediately following a reread of God is an Englishman. ( )
  DWWilkin | Aug 30, 2012 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was desperate to get the sequel! ( )
  rohetherington | Apr 5, 2010 |
This book strikes a deep-down chord for me. The descriptions of life in the early 20th century are fascinating and enlightening, even if a little romantic. ( )
  gerob76 | Sep 20, 2007 |
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For Deirdre Gibbens and Sir Geoffrey Harmsworth, both old friends, with a genuine love for the Westcountry.
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He left the carriage, ascended the short flight of steps and walked riskly past the dozing porter sitting in the deep shade of the portico
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A Horseman Riding By was in the USA split and published as two novels. Long Summer Day is part 1 of A Horseman Riding By.
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The first book in R. F. Delderfield?s bestselling A Horseman Riding By saga of twentieth-century England introduces Paul Craddock, a young war veteran who stakes his future on a neglected country estate in Devon After serving his country in the Boer War, injured Lieutenant Paul Craddock returns to England to resume civilian life. But things have changed since he joined the Imperial Yeomanry three years ago. His father has died, leaving Paul as heir to a scrap metal business he has no intention of continuing. Instead, he purchases an auctioned-off thirteen-hundred-acre estate in a secluded corner of Devon. Neglected and overgrown, Shallowford becomes the symbol of all that Paul has lost?and a reminder of the gentle place his homeland once was. And here, on this sprawling stretch of land, he will be changed by his love for two women: fiercely independent Grace Lovell, and lovely, demure Claire Derwent. Set in the English countryside in the first part of the previous century?from the long (3zsEdwardian afternoon(3y sfollowing the death of Queen Victoria, to the gathering storm of World War I?Long Summer Day is the story of a man, his family, and a people struggling to adapt to life in a new world. Long Summer Day is the first novel in R. F. Delderfield?s saga A Horseman Riding By, which continues with Post of Honour and The Green Gauntlet.… (more)

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