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Capital
 
 

Capital [Kindle Edition]

John Lanchester
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (544 customer reviews)

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Review

'This is an intelligent and entertaining account of our grubby, uncertain, fragmented London society that has almost replaced religion with shopping. Read it.' --Claire Tomalin, Observer

'Brimming with perception, humane empathy and relish, its portrayal of this metropolitan miscellany is, in every sense, a capital achievement.' --Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

'John Lanchester's pacy novel Capital perfectly captures the zeitgeist of London on the cusp of the crash and after the mad house prices, the egregious bankers and their wives, the Polish builders, Zimbabwean parking attendants, vapid conceptual artists and wannabe jihadis.' --Andrew Neather, The Standard, Books of the Year

'John Lanchester packed a city's worth of modern archetypes - bankers to builders to asylum-seekers - into the single gentrified street of Capital: a metropolitan meltdown saga.' --Boyd Tonkin, The Independent, Books of the Year

'Why was John Lanchester's Capital not Booker-listed? It is a splendidly capacious novel that subsumes London life of today into a single street and the fates of its residents over a year or so, their diversity nicely reflecting the cosmopolitan city ... A dozen different stories, all equally persuasive and absorbing.' --Penelope Lively, The Spectator Books of the Year
'Unfurling a lively social panorama of London as the economic meltdown begins, Lanchester takes you (with a keen expansiveness and eye for telling detail reminiscent of 19th-century condition-of-England novels) into the minds and circumstances of a colourful diversity of characters ... Smartly informed about both money and the metropolis, Capital is suavely satiric and warmly humane.' --Peter Kemp, Sunday Times Books of the Year

'A dramatic and well-realised plot.' --Daily Telegraph

'Excellent novel ... compassion and insight are spread here across a suitably broad canvas.' --Sunday Herald

'John Lanchester has spun a complex and gripping tale of London life, a pre-crash portrait of greed and fear and money ... His characters are richly and sympathetically drawn ... He handles their disparate story lines with immense skill. There is, too, a rich seam of wit running throughout the book which makes it a treat to read, despite its serious intentions.' --Antonia Senior, The Times Book of the Week

'Both a rewarding and hugely entertaining read.' --Daily Express
'Enjoyably huge comic novel ... the real triumph of Capital is Lanchester's deft portraiture. His assured caricatures often yield odd, redeeming traits in a rolling narrative.' --Financial Times

'Neither full-on satire nor full-blown melodrama, John Lanchester's likeable novel of boom and hubristic bust in one microcosmic London street gains greatly from its author's journalistic worldliness ... he brings an authenticity to his portrayal of the characters.' --Irish Times

'Calm, detailed, and superbly engrossing - this is one of those wonderful chunky novels that will be your friend for a week.' --Evening Standard

'Both a rewarding and hugely entertaining read.' --Daily Express

'Calm, detailed, and superbly engrossing - this is one of those wonderful chunky novels that will be your friend for a week.' --Evening Standard

Review

"Precise, humane and often hilarious, John Lanchester's Capital""teems with life. Its Dickensian sweep and its clear-eyed portrayal of the end of a strange era make this novel not only immensely enjoyable, but important, too."
--Claire Messud
"Strikingly original..."
--"The Guardian"
"Lanchester makes us care deeply about his imperiled characters....A remarkably vibrant and engrossing novel about what we truly value."
--"Booklist"
"Capital""[is] filled with the news of now, in which the intricacies of the present moment are noticed with clarity and relish and then brilliantly dramatized. It is clear that its characters, its wisdom, and the scope and range of its sympathy, will fascinate readers into the far future."
--Colm Toibin

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 816 KB
  • Print Length: 584 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0571234607
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Fiction; 1st Edition 2nd Printing edition (20 Feb 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571234607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571234608
  • ASIN: B0071LQMMG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (544 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,254 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
263 of 288 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is not the way we live now 28 Feb 2012
Format:Hardcover
Perhaps John Lanchester has fallen prey to the hyperbole of his well meaning journalist colleagues: I had great expectations from the press for this novel and its reported ambition to pull together all the threads that make London what it is today: to be "The Way We Live Now" for the 21st century.

The premise is genius - take a south London street and its occupants from the old school banker heading for a fall, along with everyone else, to the old lady, the last of the ordinary pre-professional class who is dying, and use it as a prism to view London the city and the City of London. I recognised the street - hell, I live in a south London street between a retired electrician and his wife, who do indeed still have lino in the kitchen, and a banker who's putting in a loft conversion - and I recognised every single one of the characters from the banker's wife to the Polish builder. The plot bounces along, the writing is clean and well structured and it does manage to link all the disparate characters together in a way that doesn't jar. I want to love it and yet.....and yet......

The thing is: I know all this, and you do too. You know the characters if you've had a drink in a City bar, have employed a Polish builder, watched a episode of Gavin and Stacey, taken a trip to Harvey Nicks, watched Peston on the news and have heard of Banksy. I wanted more heft, more nuance, more insight, characters who were flesh and blood, not illustrations of a type. In short, I wanted more than a confirmation of what I can see around me every day. Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner.

"Capital" is worth the read, but wait for the paperback and a long flight. It may be the way we live now, but it won't be "The Way We Live Now" in a hundred years.
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89 of 103 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining enough but...... 27 Feb 2012
By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I liked John Lanchester's previous book Whoops and was looking forward immensely to Capital. It had been hailed as possibly the State of the Nation novel of the decade.

Capital is a diverting enough read but it lacks the insight and incisiveness that you would hope for from a really good book. The plot involves a myriad of characters linked to addresses in Pepys Road. Unfortunately many of these come over as stereotypes - the greedy banker, the selfish wife, the hard-working Pole, the devout Muslims, the heroic refugee. The writing is good but far from brilliant.

One problem is that Capital is not different enough from similar novels published recently - such as Sebastian Faulks' A Week in December or Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig. Although it is an entertaining book but I was disappointed as I was expecting something more.

I am sure there is a State of the Nation novel of the decade somewhere - but this isn't it.

(I dithered about the star rating - would have opted for 3 and a half so erred on the side of kindness!)
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By J. Hind
Format:Paperback
For the entire first half of this novel (577 pages, 106 chapters!) I clung to the hope that Lanchester was - very, very slowly - setting up the novel promised in the blurb, by the clever title, and hinted at by the quoted reviews (as usual the reviewers do not actually seem to have read much beyond the aforementioned blurb!). Passing the half-way mark the truth suddenly dawned - this is all we are going to get, introductions to a bunch of rather boring imaginary friends!

Stereotype characters are perfectly acceptable in a 'state of the nation', but they need to be touched in stereotypical ways by the major themes of the age to illuminate the greater societal truth. Or it is fun to subvert our expectations by launching a stereotype on a very particular, unexpected course illustrating the particularity of real lives and the commonality of human experience underneath the superficial differences. Trouble is Lanchester does neither: his stereotypes follow exactly the trajectory you are expecting but then either crash into the ground short of the destination or whistle past the target close enough to touch it but never striking home. Only the storyline about the Zimbabwean traffic warden really lands with a hard-hitting critique of the absurd and cruel asylum system. I won't spoil what little plot there is by itemising the other four anticlimaxes, suffice it to say if Lanchester had set this in 1944 we'd have seen a soldier training for D-day and then on June 5th he'd have tripped over a termite mound and ended up hearing about the landings from his hospital bed!

All of which could have been redeemed by good writing, but Lanchester gives an unimaginative, linear, third-person 'God perspective', past tense, narrative with absolutely no ambiguity, subtlety or tension.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Marx's 6 May 2013
By JK
Format:Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this proper novel - at first - and I thought - at first - that many of my fellow reviewers here were being a little churlish.

But there is a sense that it adds up to less than the some of its parts. In a large cast, some characters are more engaging than others (inevitably, I suppose, but must it really be inevitable?), and I did have to fight quite hard to stop myself skipping over the chapters concerning my least favourites.

I kept waiting to find out how things would go as and when the various lives began to intertwine ... but apart from a couple of near misses, they remained isolated from each other, even as they inhabited houses on the same street. Realistic in this at least.

The 'mystery' was feeble and inconsequential, as, in fact, to a greater or lesser extent, were the stories of all the inhabitants of Pepys Road.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A real read
Unlike other kindle downloads this was a full book. A new author for me and i loved his writing style and the indepyh knowledge he had. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Flower Girl
1.0 out of 5 stars Uninsightful and unimaginative
Uninsightful and unimaginative, the stereotypes are predictable and the storyline goes absolutely nowhere. You will find more entertainment from reading a cereal box. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Strawberry 501
3.0 out of 5 stars Very promising but...
A nice idea- and clever title, set in a street with overflated London property prices. Some good characters and it made me realise just how mad the bankers' bonuses are. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Christina
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
a very good read.
Published 14 days ago by Scaveney
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Probably a good holiday read. Good characters, good story line. Funny. OK ending.
Published 17 days ago by Dank
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the different stories
I liked the variety of the book in that it told the story from different peoples perspective. Think that it could have made a bit more of an impact as there were a lot of issues... Read more
Published 20 days ago by lalalalaloo
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not v good, just good.
An interesting easy read from an interesting author. Quite a distinct style. Short chapters for easy reading. Could do worse.
Published 23 days ago by Kopper
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy and entertaining read
Taking a street in London as the main character of the novel, John Lanchester has attempted a literary snapshot of our times. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Scholastica
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Set in 2008 but again true still in 2014 how money and housing makes Londoners rich and all of us poor. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. David Myles
4.0 out of 5 stars Hit
Everyone was reading this - all I could see on a Barbados beach was the orange cover of this excellent book. The City boy's wife was laugh out loud! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. C. M. Greaves
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