Delderfield - A Horseman Riding By

November 13, 2004

R. F. (Ronald Frederick)Delderfield
A horseman riding by
New York : Simon and Schuster, 1966.

Delderfield writes great long books about England. In his best work he celebrates the quiet heroism of daily life - as for example in The Avenue where a batch of suburban families get by during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. He wrote a lot of stuff, mostly during the middle of the 20th century, and it is all pretty good middlebrow fiction, with dashes of sentimentalism.

A Horseman Rides By takes this approach to the Devon countryside between the Boer War and 1940, with our hero a man with a highly convenient source of outside money who buys a valley and sets him self up as a squire. We meet Paul as he is invalided after being shot in the knee in the Boer War. We leave him watching the coasts in 1940, and in between are almost a thousand pages of conversation, love of the land, and the benevolent squire trying to bring rural agriculture into a meaningful modern era. Delderfield is a conservative in the true Burkean sense - his characters may have radical or even socialist sympathies, but Delderfield himself celebrates tradition and continuity and argues that any meaningful future must respect the past.

It was 700 pages of good reading and 200 pages of plugging along so I could finish.

Posted by Red Ted at November 13, 2004 12:35 PM | TrackBack

Red Ted,

My favorite Delderfield is, TO SERVE THEM ALL MY DAYS. I have read it twice and enjoyed it as much the second time as the first. It's main character is also a wounded WW I soldier who finds his was in the world of academia. I have also discovered that it was dramatized on Masterpiece theater some years back, and is now on DVD. I have dropped some not very subtle hints to my wife that that would make a nice Christmas gift for me. So maybe soon I will be able to put some faces to the characters. It will be interesting to see if I like the film as well as I have the reading of it.

Good blog Red Ted. I will link it to my stuff, if I may. Your tastes seem to run to heavier stuff than I usually indulge in, but perhaps I can be refined a little by your selections.


Posted by: jim2jak at November 27, 2004 02:11 PM

Yes, To Serve Them All My Days is good. I think I blogged about it a few months ago, but that might have been back when the book blogging was included in the regular diary.

Please, link away. Some of my stuff may be heavier than you like, but an awful lot of my reading is middlebrow, action-adventure, or space opera.

Posted by: Ted K at November 27, 2004 02:23 PM
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