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Thursday, November 05, 2009

To Serve Them All My Days

Delderfield, R. F.  To Serve Them All My Days.

OK -- I loved this one.  I liked it much better than God Is an Englishman because this is about a teacher, and I have some experience in this area.

David Powlett-Jones is invalided out of WWI, injured and suffering from shell-shock.  Despairing over the cost of the war in human lives, unable to control his shaking hands, he nevertheless accepts a job teaching history at Bamfylde School.  At Bamfylde, Davy eventually finds the healing his wounded spirit needs and a sense of being useful and of belonging to something important.  He also discovers that he is a born teacher.

The novel, with all of its wonderful detail, begins at the tag-end of the first World War and continues through the second.  Delderfield manages to involve the reader with all of his wonderful characters and give an overview of those years that includes the very personal effects on individuals and a wider historical and political perspective.

The book is comforting with its view of human nature--flawed, but with hope for improvement.  Delderfield doesn't avoid all of the tragedies of life, and there are many in the novel, but he has an optimism, a faith in mankind that buoys the reader.

I loved it.  Repeating myself, I know, but it's true.  I will re-visit Bamfylde, Davy, Algy, Howarth, and all of the men, women, and boys that populate these pages.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks for sending me this review copy!

Fiction.  Historical.  First publ. 1972.  Republ. 2008.  594 pages.


  1. This sounds like a lovely book, very human, if that makes sense at all!

  2. Stefanie - It is one of those long books that I did not want to end. I settled in each time I picked it up as if on a visit to friends.

  3. I really want to read this but we will wait until I buy a batch of books. I don't want it to be a library book.

  4. I really liked "God is an Englishman," but never read this one. Thanks to your review, I'll be looking out for it.

  5. Kailana - I really loved this one and hope you do when you get around to it!

    Framed - I liked God Is an Englishman a lot, but this one was even better. Much better for me because I was in familiar territory!

  6. I'm so glad you reminded me of these. I own the whole series, and read them all years ago, and oh how I loved them. Time to pull them out and start re-reading. Thanks for the reminder and the great review.

  7. Tina - I especially love this one, but I will be reading more Delderfield in the future!

  8. I read this when I was in high school and loved it. Of course everything Delderfield wrote is good. Have you seen the Masterpiece Theater series based on this book? It was shown in the 1970s and is out in DVD.