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David Storey
506 pages

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. ( )


Dec. 3rd, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
... and why did it win the Booker Prize, anyway?
Marieke, thanks for your comment. And to think this won the Booker Prize as well! Although I've found some of the older Bookers to be a bit dated, so perhaps "you had to be there."