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.