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Capital [Kindle Edition]

John Lanchester
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (565 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'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


"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."
"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 (565 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,199 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
263 of 289 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is not the way we live now 28 Feb 2012
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars People not plot 17 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
First of all let me be clear that this was a surprisingly gentle but fun read.

I'm not entirely sure why i bought this book. Probably the lure of a different author and a different atmosphere to my normal reads. However it was that i came by this, i can honestly say it was a very fortunate meeting!

I dont want to spoil any of the plot but i would just say that the synopsis blurb around the "You have what we want" campaign is slightly misleading. This part of the story is only really incidental to the fundamental story of the lives of the people who live and work in Pepys Road. Please dont buy if you are expecting any type of crime thriller. Instead, we are treated to a number of very different life stories; all of which are interesting and thought provoking in their own ways.

I didn't find this book especially funny either but it was captivating and charming. As i finished the book i thought of two things 1. I wish there was another book continuing the stories of these people i had come to know and 2. what else has he written?

If you finish a book and want more then thats got to be a good sign!

Well worth a read :)
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90 of 104 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining enough but...... 27 Feb 2012
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Marx's 6 May 2013
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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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable 1 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thought this was a wonderful book. Yes, it was peopled by characters and types that we all recognise (I think that's the point) but that didn't stop them from being full of life and energy. I was constantly reminded of people that I know from real life, not just the famous or sterotyped. And yes, Smitty is rather too like Banksy, but so what? It actually makes a point about the vaccuous nature of so much of modern 'conceptual art'.
The sympathetic characters were the unprentious ones, those scratching a living Like, 'Bogodan' (not even allowed his own name when working)and Matya; not the banker and his dreadful wife Arabella, nor even the awful Ms Strauss, a human rights lawyer who is in the game only for her own ends.
The truths that Lanchester tells about our asylum system and treatment of foreign workers are frighteningly apt. He touches on so many issues about contemporary life - not just what it is like to live in a big expensive house in London, but about the shallow nature of the things we hold dear, about the price of fame, the glorification of the football industry and the dangers that lie in wait for a kid who just wants to play football and have fun. The writer is most successful when allowing his characters to show that they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
A very appropriate novel for our times. I wonder if we will learn anything from it?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good read
Published 6 days ago by C. S. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Item as described. Prompt service. Many thanks!
Published 6 days ago by Helos76
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Nice to read, something different
Published 23 days ago by mary ellis
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun to read
Great fun to read, but the characters tend to the stereotypical. Mrs Kamal stands out as truly authentic and awesome Lahori matron- with unexpected talent at tackling bureaucrats. Read more
Published 1 month ago by John H
4.0 out of 5 stars Parallel universe
Thoroughly enjoyed it despite its length. Very prescient about the state of London and what has actually happened. Read more
Published 1 month ago by readaholic
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
very good
Published 1 month ago by lucas smith
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read.
An interesting assemblage of the diverse lives of the occupants of one street. From the lady who lived there all of her life in the family's house to the over paid banker with a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jillian R. Cole
4.0 out of 5 stars Great writer, the characters so vivid and varied
Great writer, the characters so vivid and varied. Plenty of insights into so many different perspectives which is quite breathtaking really. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rasselas
1.0 out of 5 stars Too sketchy, no discernible plot in 150 pages, so I gave up
At first, this was interesting. There were some interesting vignettes of the different characters in the novel, and this laid out the context fairly well. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kirk McElhearn
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book about the lives of people who live in ...
Interesting book about the lives of people who live in a London Street and the people who work there. At the end everything has changed as have the people. Interesting read.
Published 1 month ago by Alex Goch
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