The late Delderfield at his popular best in a long grassy knoll of a book with the author patiently nudging readers over hurdles presented by the elderly English protagonist's nine children -- there's plenty of time to absorb the names, occupations and preoccupations of each. These are the progeny of Adam Swann (cf. God Is An Englishman, 1970), founder of a transport business; one who carries it on, a Liberal politician who plumps for Reform (whose wife is a martyr to the women's suffrage cause), an Empire-minded soldier, a farmer's wife, an athlete blinded in the Boer war, a daughter who survived the Boxer Rebellion and married an Irish nationalist, one who paints and marries a Welsh farmer -- as Adam observes, ""the Swanns. . .were destined to advance on a singularly broad front."" There's a bay window seat for the Jubilee, Victoria's funeral, the coming of Edward and George and between the fin de siecle commentary by Adam (""By God, I've seen a thing or two in my time"") the Swarms appear in muddy waters -- married squabbles, blighted affairs, three violent deaths, a possible suicide and trouble at the transport yards where horses give way to mechanization. The saga doses before World War I, as Adam, at 87, muses that he has ""done his stint as best he could."" Delderfield's large and predictable readership will regret that after many an Edwardian summer dies this Swarm -- along with his counterparts. December Literary Guild Selection.