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. The Savilles' first child dies. War is declared. Mr. Saville builds a bomb shelter from scavenged scraps--it is flooded with the first rain. 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. Examinations. Rugby--his father cheers crudely at matches, attracts attention. 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 teaching unteachables, living at home, sharing his salary--comes anger, confusion, and envy of his bovine brother, who, resisting all tutoring, is resigned to the mine. The facts are precisely, honestly placed on the page. The feelings that they evoke, spared the prosiness of print, take shape in the heart. Hefty (500 pages), but accessible.