"A heroic finale to the author's cavalcade of middle-class life."
-W. B. Hill, Best Sellers
Sweeping Adam Swann and three generations of his family into the tide of events that followed Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, this stirring novel confronts them, and England, with the social upheaval of a rapidly changing world. The same revolutionary ferment that stirs up labor unrest also births the English suffragette movement, taking the family idealist, Giles, to Parliament. With conflicting interests, two of his brothers usher the family's firm into the twentieth century and another Swann brother, Alex, a professional soldier, attempts to introduce an outmoded army to modern tactics. Like their aging father, these Swanns strive energetically to wed personal dreams to national values-even as the rumble of the guns of August 1914 signals the end of the world as they and their country have known it.
Give Us This Day is a stirring saga of England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, as the social upheaval begins and the Great War looms, forever changing the landscape of England and her people.
"Mr. Delderfield's vast public will find here...his undimmed facility as a storyteller."
-The New Yorker
"Rich and rewarding, the sort of thing to read at leisure and peacefully. Moreover, it is authentic...It has the spirit of the times."
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About the Author
Born in 1912., R. F. Delderfield was a journalist, playwright and novelist, renowned for brilliantly portraying slices of English life. He is one of England's beloved novelists, with many of his novels being adapted into television and film, including the landmark BBC miniseries of To Serve Them All My Days.
Read an Excerpt
From Chapter 1:
On the morning of his seventieth birthday, in the Jubilee month of June 1897, Adam Swann, onetime cavalryman, subsequently haulier extraordinary, now landscaper and connoisseur, picked up his Times, turned his back on an erupting household, and stumped down the curving drive to his favourite summer vantage point, a knoll sixty feet above the level of the lake overlooking the rustic building entered on the Tryst estate map as "The Hermitage."
His wife, Henrietta, glimpsing his disapproving back as he emerged on the far side of the lilac clump, applauded his abrupt departure. Never much of a family man, preoccupied year by year with his own extravagant and mildly eccentric occupations, he had a habit of getting under her feet whenever she was organising a social event and preparation for a family occasion on this scale demanded concentration.
By her reckoning there would be a score sitting down to dinner, without counting some of the younger grandchildren, who might be allowed to stay up in honour of the occasion. She knew very well that he would regard a Swann muster, scheduled for dinner that night, as little more than an obligatory family ritual, but she was also aware that he would humour her and the girls by going through the motions. Admittedly it was his birthday and an important milestone in what she never ceased to regard as anything but a long and incredibly adventurous journey, but she knew him well enough, after thirty-nine years of marriage, to face the fact that celebrations of this kind had no real significance for him. Whenever he gave his mind to anything it needed far more substance and permanence than an evening of feasting, a few toasts, a general exchange of family gossip. That kind of thing, to his way of thinking, was a woman's business and such males who enjoyed it were, to use another phrase of his, "Men who had run out of steam" -an odd metaphor in the mouth of a man who had made his pile out of draught horses.
As for him, Henrietta decided, watching his deliberate, slightly halting progress down the drive and then hard right over the turf to the knoll, he would almost surely die with a full head of steam. Increasing age, and retirement from the city life eight years before, had done little to slow him down and encourage the repose most successful men of affairs regarded as their right on the far side of the hill. He had never changed much and now he never would. Indeed, to her and to everyone who knew him well, he was still the same thrustful Adam of her youth, of a time when he had come riding over a fold of Seddon Moor in the drought summer of 1858 and surprised her, an eighteen-year-old runaway from home, washing herself in a puddle. He was still a dreamer and an actor out of dreams. Still a man who, unless his creative faculties were fully stretched, became moody and at odds with himself and everyone about him. In the years that had passed since he had surrendered his network to his second son, George, she had adjusted to the fact that old age, and the loss of a leg, had diminished neither his physical nor mental energies. He continued to make many of his local journeys on horseback. He still followed, through acres of newsprint, the odysseys of his hardfisted countrymen and the egregious antics of their commercial imitators overseas. All that had really happened, when he moved over to make room for George, was the exchange of one obsession for another.
Once it had been his network. Now it was the embellishment and reshaping of his estate that had filled the vacuum created by his retirement. He still made occasional demands on her as a bed-mate, but she was long since reconciled to the fact that there was a part of him, the creative part, that was cordoned off, as sacrosanct as Bluebeard's necropolis, even from George, his business heir, and from Giles, who did duty for his father's social and political conscience; even from network cronies out of his adventurous past, who occasionally visited him and were conducted on an inspection of the changes he had wrought in this sector of the Weald since taking it into his head to make Tryst one of the showplaces of the county. There were some wives, she supposed, who would have been incapable of acquiescing to this area of privacy in a man for whom they had borne five sons and four daughters. Luckily for both of them Henrietta Swann was not one of them. She had always been aware both of her limitations and her true functions and had never quarrelled with them, or not seriously.
To reign as consort of a man whose name was a household word was more than she had ever expected of life and fulfilment had been hers for a very long time now. Her place in his heart was assured and their relationship, since she had passed the age of child-bearing and become a grandmother, was as ordered as the stars in their courses. Any woman who wanted more than that was out looking for trouble.
Table of Contents
PART ONE : Three Score Years and Ten 1
1. Clash of Symbols 2
2. Paper Ambush 19
3. Bedside Whisper 28
4. Reconnaissance 46
5. River Scene 63
6. Return of Atlas 74
7. A Titan, Fishing 91
8. Swanns at Large 103
PART TWO: Tailtwist 121
1. Breakthrough 122
2. George versus the Clock 129
3. Drumbeat 147
4. Sacrifice to Dagon 164
5. The Fists of Righteous Harmony 182
6. Study in Black 192
PART THREE: Towards the Summit 207
1. Headstart 208
2. Snailpath Odyssey 228
3. Confrontations 250
4. Dreams at Tryst 266
PART FOUR: Reconnaissance 279
1. In the Beginning There Was George... 280
2. Swann Whirligig, 190506 294
3. The Servile War 319
4. Anniversaries and Occasions 345
5. Landmark 368
PART FIVE: Journey into Chaos 383
1. Win One, Lose One 384
2. Incident in Whitehall 403
3. The Last Rally 427
4. Snowslide 433
5. Stella 454
6. The Strategist 475
7. Interception 489
8. As From a Pinnacle 503
9. Upon St. Vitus's Day 512
10. Heatwave 537
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you enjoyed Downton Abbey you will appreciate this third book of the Swann family. This story takes place during the run-up to WW I. There is a good segment on the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. This period of struggle in society played large in the book with women's sufferage, union organization and a segment going into the on going struggles in Ireland included. There are, of course, the interwoven stories of the Swann children as they progress into adulthood and middle age. Many of the adult Swann children played a part in the various social struggles and changes. Until Downton Abbey returns, the Delderfield books will serve as my Downton "fix".
Yet another great novel by r fdelderfield.
Outstanding in every way expected of a Delderfield novel. The story continues on track, never misses a beat and is as interesting and engaging as "God is an Englishmen". There is no letdown or decrement in this third book in the series, and I enjoyed this one as I did each of its predecessors. You will not be disappointed.