Saville is a rich and detailed chronicle, an ambitious undertaking that tracks the progress of Colin Saville, the eldest son of a coal miner, from the 1930’s through the 1950’s and over the span of more than five hundred pages. It is regarded as Storey’s most significant work, and it won the prestigious Man Booker Prize, Britain’s top literary award for fiction.
The Saville family lives in the coal-mining district of Yorkshire. Colin’s father, Harry Saville, leads a life of backbreaking work in the coal pits. Harry hopes for something more for his sons, Colin, Steven, and Richard, but especially for Colin, whose education is a matter of priority. Harry is good-natured but also ignorant and slow-witted. The mother is somewhat depressed and lethargic, and the brothers are distant and unmotivated. Ironically, Colin’s success pulling himself out of the coal-mining life and into a career as a teacher and poet creates resentment and bitterness in the family he leaves behind.
The story is realistic and objective, written in third-person voice. Despite that, the perception borders on first person, as every episode puts Colin at the center and all other characters are defined in terms of his relation to them—his father, his mother, or his brothers, for example. Nothing in the narrative is outside his direct experience. However, there is an important exception, for the novel begins some years before Colin’s birth. The first chapter and most of the second chapter deal with the birth and early life of Andrew, the son who died six months before Colin was born....
(The entire section is 651 words.)