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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars People not plot
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...
Published 13 months ago by M. B. Rich

versus
263 of 289 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is not the way we live now
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...
Published on 28 Feb 2012 by Susan Martin


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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Over hyped, 14 May 2012
This review is from: Capital (Hardcover)
I like this kind of plot (short chapters, parallel plots which finally diverge in some sort of denouement) - helps with my short attention span! - BUT this book left me cold.
Reading the professional reviews I expected a great book of our time (London in the financial crisis). It felt like this was written by numbers, and in a hurry. Really underwhelming. Few (if any) of the characters had any depth (With one exception: the elderly lady's experience of a medical consulation for a brain tumour felt very authentic, and incedibly sad).
The writing was journalistic (no surprise), crisp but not remotely memorable. Sorry to slate it, but I think it was a bit of an opportunistic project, esp if this author can impress with other books (of our time).
Most of all I will take a very jaundiced eye to Guardian Sat Review, and other newspaper book reviews in the future. (rant over!)
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Five Storylines, Four Anticlimaxes (and a Funeral!), 8 May 2013
By 
J. Hind "John Hind" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Capital (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. Just like the worst chick-lit, Lanchester not only tells us exactly what is going on inside the heads of multiple characters, but even descends to describing their subconscious motivations! Such pace as the novel achieves is by the simple trick of keeping the chapters short - if necessary by inserting chapter breaks arbitrarily.

Now, could someone please write the novel described by Faber and Faber's blurb writer? I'd really like to read that!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Offers more than it delivers, 24 Jun 2012
By 
Douglas (Madrid, Spain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Capital (Hardcover)
Given all the hype that surrounded the publication of `Capital' - "state of the nation" book (whatever that means), etc. - and which I followed closely, I couldn't help but think it offered much more than it delivered. The novel seemed overly contrived and in the end rather inconsequential. The underlying theme of the story - the dark and threatening "We Want What You Have" campaign - became uninteresting and peripheral to the lives of the varied characters, and by the end the story just fizzled out. I'm a big fan of John Lanchester and have read most of his fiction and non-fiction, and follow his excellent journalistic economics articles in the London Review of Books. However, while `Capital' isn't bad, and is certainly well written, I found it disappointing. For me his touching memoir `Family Romance' is the best thing he's written but, strangely, rarely mentioned in any assessment of his work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Capital, 25 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Capital (Kindle Edition)
This book grew and grew on me. There were times when I kept thinking "why doesn't he get on with the story?" But gradually I began to appreciate more and more what John Lanchester was doing...building up snapshots of a group of very different people united only by their links, direct or otherwise, with Pepys Road. As the book progresses each of the protagonists experience some sort of life changing event but they remain essentially isolated from most of the other members of the loose community and are not able to share or celebrate or commiserate with each other. In this sense then the book is a parable of modern city living. I grew to care deeply about each of the characters and felt in turn distressed when things went wrong or rejoiced when things went well. Through the book John Lanchester's empathy shines through and the book reminds the reader that it is dangerous and wrong to make snap judgements or assumptions about the people around us no matter how much their immediate actions may tempt us to do so. The book also celebrates the richness of our multicultural society but does not shrink from going into some dark places.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read., 15 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Capital (Paperback)
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 spoilt and petulant wife and a variety of immigrants, all with very interesting and well researched points of view. An excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and relevant, 16 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Capital (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book. I felt for the characters (love 'em or hate 'em), which is certainly not always the case, and wanted to know what happened to (some of) them afterwards, which to me is a mark of good writing. However I did read a review which said that 'everyone will identify with the characters', which I don't think is accurate at all, given that most of them come from the far ends of the economic spectrum and I guess that most readers will fall somewhere between the bankers/professional footballers and the low-paid economic immigrants.

For those who enjoyed the observational style but would like something less London-centric, I would recommend If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor, which is set in a more 'ordinary' town.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High hopes, 28 Sep 2013
This review is from: Capital (Paperback)
Like others on here, the scene was set so well yet it fails to really click for me in the way I'd hoped.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great, unputdownable read., 16 Sep 2013
This review is from: Capital (Paperback)
The house prices in Pepys Road, South London, have risen to astronomical levels, making existing owners rich and excluding all but the wealthiest new buyers. Predictably,given its focus on this single street, a central character in the novel is banker Roger Yount. Other dramatis personae are surprisingly varied, including an Asian newsagent and his extended family, an elderly lady who has lived in Pepys Road all her life, a young Senegalese football star, a Polish builder, a Zimbabwean traffic warden who has been refused asylum in the UK, and an artist who thrives on his anonymity (clearly based on Banksy).

The novel is part 'whodunnit', as the police try to identify the sender of mysterious postcards and DVDs to the residents of the road. But as the punning title suggests, the book's central theme is money won or lost, made and spent. Lanchester's London is a giant casino in which careers either blossom or are blighted, fortunes turn and turn again.

Although some of the characters are vain, thoughtless or vulgar, there are few out and out villains in the book. Indeed the tone is perhaps more soft-hearted than I had expected and there are some fine comic creations, particularly Mrs Kamal, mother of the newsagent, with her facility for needling criticism. Yet even she is revealed to have hidden strengths when a family crisis demands the best from her. I see that other readers have found the novel too dependent on stereotypes but I feel that the author rounds out his characters enough for us to feel interested in them as individuals rather than as members of a category. The exception is perhaps Roger's wife, the vacuous and selfish Arabella, who appears to have few redeeming characteristics, her only interest in life to spend large chunks of her husband's income.

This may not be 'a great London novel' to match the work of such illustrious forebears as Trollope but it is certainly a great, unputdownable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A looking into the life of a street - but not like mine., 8 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Capital (Paperback)
Based on the people who live in one street in London. From Petunia the elderly working class resident who has lived there all her life and now sits on a million pound asset; Quintena who has made me rethink how lucky we British are in our safe world provided for from cradle to grave; a Polish builder trying to save to provide for parents back home - and the Mounts! You will not get fed up loathing that selfish woman!
Some great characters and some a little weaker but a great book. It is a huge book with lots of little pictures of other peoples lives. Great for a holiday read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 2 Aug 2013
This review is from: Capital (Kindle Edition)
Not a massively original concept (think Sebastian Faulks's 'A Week in December'-'Capital', by the way,is much better) but very well written and highly entertaining. I agree with other readers that it perhaps lacks any huge depth - but enough insights and well drawn characters to make it a very worthwhile read.

So rare these days to get something crafted this well - I really enjoyed it
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Capital
Capital by John Lanchester
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