by David Storey
Kirkus Here is a new novel of Dickensian scope and Flaubertian restraint that one reads with the instant trust and total commitment usually inspired only by ""the classics."" On page one, the late-1930s newlywed Savilles arrive in a Yorkshire mining village and begin to make a home out of a shack. By page two or three, the contemporary reader's contemporary demands--for novelty, quick action, easy relevance--dissolve, and the most familiar, unsensational, elemental materials are renewed and made riveting. The Savilles' first child dies. War is declared. Mr. Saville builds a bomb shelter from scavenged scraps--it is flooded with the first rain. (As in his plays, Storey has a fascinated, fascinating way with descriptions of manual labor.) Three more sons are born, but the parents' hopes center on the oldest, Colin. Through education, he will escape and rescue them from the stove-less, daily drudgery, from the sixteen-hour days in the mine. First day at school. Studying--tutored by his father, who must half-learn along with him. Examinations. Rugby--his father cheers crudely at matches, attracts attention. Neighbors. Teachers--they detect a strain of daydreaming, of insolence, but recommend the university. (Economics demand a teacher's college instead.) Summer farmwork. The death of grandparents. His mother's illnesses. Friends--moneyed Stafford, oafish Bletchley, degenerate Reagan. First love, won away by Stafford. And, with the supposed culmination of Colin's work--a job as a teacher, teaching unteachables, living at home, sharing his salary (no bigger than his father's), paying back for the years of family sacrifice--comes anger, confusion, and envy of his bovine brother, who, resisting all tutoring, is resigned to the mine. Colin's rage is a breath-holding surprise because Storey writes the way life is lived, from moment to moment, with the quiet accumulation of unconscious questions, hopes, hurts, and resentments. He never directs our allegiances, never arranges events for effect, never pulls heartstrings or any other kind of strings. The facts are precisely, honestly placed on the page. The feelings that they evoke, spared the prosiness of print, take shape in the heart. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.