- 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 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 342,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Saville Paperback – 25 Jun 1998
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"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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Top customer reviews
David Storey won the Booker Prize for Saville in 1976, demonstrating a remarkable prescience with regard to the demise of the mining communities in the 1980s. Highly recommended.
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. Saville's father's resignation to unquestionably ekeing out a living, whilst being living proof of how grim and hopeless it is down't'pit, is particularly galling after a while.
So a really mixed bag overall. I can't say I didn't respect this novel enormously, but I can definitely say I did not enjoy it and found it the opposite of a page-turner. I'm simultaneously glad I finished it and yet have no desire to ever pick it up again. Make of that what you will!
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. But he survives, making friends, discovering women, and learning about equality, both in terms of women's liberation and in terms of his own potential.
Ultimately, when Colin himself becomes a teacher, a colleague tells him, "You don't belong to any class, since you live with one class, respond like another, and feel attachments to none." This transition is Story's theme, one repeated throughout countries and ages as young people achieve more than their parents, the communal spirit of villages changes, opportunities open up for those who work for them, and life becomes more global. Gracefully written, with not a word out of place, I can not recall when I've found a 500-page book that reads so quickly and so enjoyably. Mary Whipple
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