This book reads like a student's report of "What I did on my Summer Vacation": a chronology of events told in a factual style with absolutely no drama whatsoever. The student essay has a distinct advantage: it's short. Saville, on the other hand, is a 500-page tome that plods through the life of Colin Saville. The story opens with his parents moving into a squalid home in a Yorkshire mining village. They soon have a child -- Colin's older brother, Andrew, who died before Colin was born. And then Colin comes into the world, grows up, and is awarded a scholarship to go to a decent grammar school. He has various friends, some from his village and others from his school. He works summer jobs. He decides to attend a 2-year college instead of university. He meets various young ladies. He tries hard to overcome his humble origins.
And I'm sorry, but it's all dreadfully dull. There's not a single moment of suspense, tension, or emotion. There were several occasions where I thought a subplot might actually be going somewhere: perhaps a character would turn out to be evil, or some tragedy would befall the Saville family. But no -- even Andrew's death was treated matter-of-factly, and was not mentioned again until Colin was about 20 years old. When he told his girlfriend that his brother's death had a profound impact on his life, all I could say was, "huh?" I'm not sure how I finished it, and I confess to skimming the last 100 pages.
This book suffered significantly from an overdone theme ("dreary English mining village"), coupled with a semi-autobiographical story that was definitely of more interest to the author than it would be to anyone else. ( )