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Saville Paperback – 25 Jun 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (25 Jun. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099274086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099274087
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"If you haven't read David Storey's 1976 winner Saville read it at once, it is the best of all the Bookers" (Observer)

"A tremendous novel" (The Economist)

""Saville" is a splendid novel, replete with virtues beyond its appeal to those otherwise undiscriminating readers who demand stories about nice people." (Peter S. Prescott Newsweek)

"Mesmerically readable... A revelation" (The Times)

"A marvellousl evocation of place and character... This is a book made more than usually remarkable by its intensity of feeling" (Daily Telegraph)

About the Author

David Storey was born in 1933 in Wakefield, and studied at the Slade School of Art. His eight previous novels have won many prizes, including the Macmillan Fiction Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Faber Memorial Prize and, in 1976, the Booker prize for Saville. He is also the author of fifteen plays. He now lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
Storey's 1976 Booker Prize-winner captures the heart of its characters, draws in the reader, and smoothly traces the life of Colin Saville from his childhood to early adulthood in the small and dying mining village of Saxton. In some ways, Saville is the archetype of all those young people who have used their educations--and some luck--to develop interests which take them beyond their smalltown villages and into the wider world. As Storey shows us, this is not a smooth transition, and it is not done without regrets and feelings of abandoning family ties.
Set during World War II and after, the novel concentrates on daily life as a young boy deals as well as he can with the circumstances of life, even when he has to live with a neighbor for several months because his mother is hospitalized and his father works at night. Always limiting his descriptions to what the main character would observe at various stages of his life, Storey conveys Colin's world realistically, from his embarrassment at having a bath in front of the neighbor woman he stays with to his feeling that "everyone had moved away. At school he was suddenly cut off."
Colin's friends range from Batty and Stringer, two young delinquents who have a "hut" in the woods, to Michael Reagan, a violinist, fat Ian Bletchley, and Stafford, a wealthy boy who befriends him in school. Through them Storey is able to create a realistic novel which also shows what happens to these other, equally typical characters as the post-war years progress. At school Colin is subjected to snobbism, sadistic punishment, and emotional abuse by teachers who seem to regret their own lack of success and their awareness that the class structures of which they have been a part are breaking down.
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Format: Paperback
Saville won the Booker Prize in 1976. In such a vast novel it is inevitable that the pace will occasionally quicken and slacken, but a book like this can be read over weeks, almost dipped into as the passing phases of Colin's life unfold. David Story was born in Wakefield, and so was I. It could be argued that his most famous and perhaps still most successful work is "This Sporting Life", a portrait of a Rugby League player who achieves local fame and then notoriety as his life and career blossom and then fall apart. It was filmed in the early 1960s, with Richard Harris playing the starring role. Along with about 28000 others, I was in Wakefield Trinity's Belle Vue ground soon after midday to make sure that I got a standing place by the railings next to the pitch to see Trinity play Wigan in a cup-tie. I was only ten and needed to be early because, had I been further back amongst the crowd, I would have seen nothing. Wakefield beat Wigan 5-4, with Fred Smith scoring the only try of the game at my end. They went on to win at Wembley that year, beating Huddersfield in the game where Neil Fox used a drop goal strategy not seen before or since.

But before that cup-tie against Wigan, the packed Trinity ground became a film set. We were all unpaid extras as Richard Harris and members of the Trinity second team filmed some actions Sequences for "This Sporting Life". I show no disrespect for Richard Harris by recalling that the sequence required a whole string of takes, necessitated by the fact that the star kept dropping the ball! I have seen the film several times, but I have not yet managed to spot my short-trousered legs behind the sticks at the Belle Vue end. They are there, somewhere.
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Saville is a portrait of a young man growing up in a working class family in the North of England who takes advantage of the opportunities given to the working classes in Britain after the Second World War to rise up through education to a more respectable position in the middle classes, only to find himself unhappy and isolated.

The achievement of the novel is its wholly believable portrayal of a family where generations are separated by their experiences and expectations, and the characters throughout are believable and sympathetic, especially the protagonist, whose frustrations - which might seem somewhat frivolous and existential - are made painfully clear and real. The Booker Prize it won in 1976 was presumably reward for this skill. It describes the sense of being let down and misunderstood by one's community yet unable to ever really escape its values and judgments - a feeling many people who 'climb' from working class backgrounds must have felt at some point - better than any novel I've ever read.

The limitation, however, is that it can be a horrible slog at times. This is a long novel and much of it is dedicated to repetitive and not very interesting (partly because they're so often miserable) childhood experiences of school and family life. We become as frustrated with Saville's conservative and old-fashioned, small-minded though fundamentally decent parents as he does. Also, partly because its so unfashionable nowadays, it is hard for the reader to take all this working class kitchen sink drama seriously. At the more po-faced moments, you are reminded of Monty Python's portrayal of cloth capped Northerners competing about how grim their childhoods were.
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