58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Love, Actually...in literary,
This review is from: A Week in December (Paperback)
The idea behind "A Week in December" is similar to that of the Richard Curtis film of a few years back. We follow various of London's inhabitants in the week before Christmas and discover their interconnectedness. And, at the end, love is the answer - parental love, romantic love and love of money, status and power.
It's an ambitious idea but, as a whole, it didn't work for me. In the first few pages of the book, the reader is exposed to a "bullet -point" list of about 30 characters (rather like a particularly dreary Powerpoint presentation), many of whom play no significant part in the following four hundred-odd pages. This "data dump" is followed up by (to my mind) tedious lectures about high finance in unnecessary detail. The funniest sections of the book concerned the literary critic, but I felt there were far too many in-jokes about the literary establishment for this to be effective. The parts intended as satire - concerning the reality TV show and the online parallel universe game fell flat for me, partly because these already seemed dated - the parody is of "Second Life" rather than today's ubiquitous Facebook. Many of the characters seemed to merge into one stereotype - I had difficulty in particular with distinguishing most of the women from one another.
The character that I found of most interest was the would-be suicide bomber Hassan - his story of all, was well-told. His parents were also drawn with warmth and humour. There were one or two other minor characters who were of interest, or added a light touch - such as Roger - and I felt I would have liked to have seen more from these people's lives rather than yet more information on hedge funds.
Normally, I love books from Sebastian Faulks - and I even forgave the psychology lectures in "Human Traces" as the book was so powerful and full of humanity. Towards the end of "A Week in December", I found a passage which made me wonder - like other reviewers - if the whole thing is some kind of weird joke on Faulks' part:
"From now on, you can only write about the nineteenth century...no more stuff about today...but...anything from before you were born, that should be alright, shouldn't it?"
"I, er...I think you may be right. The truth is I can't bear contemporary stuff."
Reading "A Week in December" was, for me, rather like being on Jenni's Circle Line train. I was looking forward to a journey round the people and places of London but instead I was stuck in a claustrophobic carriage packed too full of people that ground to an unexplained halt in the middle of nowhere.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Dec 2013 18:42:40 GMT
I agree with everything you've said.
I enjoyed the development of all the characters and would have liked more on some of them, particularly on the footballer, who only featured once or twice, and I felt we were only just getting to know him when the book ended.
The lecture on financial instruments left me flat. I work in the finance industry and could vaguely follow some of it, but most of the detail I thought was unnecessary and boring.
Also, I felt that the apparent "climax" of the book was a bit of a damp squib and left me with a lasting impression of the book as a bit of a non entity.
In reply to an earlier post on 31 Dec 2013 17:08:20 GMT
Secret Spi says:
Thanks - it's one thing when a book is just bad from start to finish (if you get that far) but this one was frustrating to read for me as there was enough in it that promised a better novel than it turned out to be.
Posted on 30 Jan 2014 08:51:37 GMT
I totally agree. I have recently read Capital by John Lanchester and had the same sense of disappointment for similar
reasons. Both books are a bit of a let down.
In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jan 2014 08:50:07 GMT
Secret Spi says:
I'll avoid that one as well, then!
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