Capital Paperback – 1 Mar 2012
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"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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the bestselling author of Whoops!: A post-crash, state-of-the-nation novel told with compassion, humour and truthSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Capital goes on to introduce a wealth of very different characters. Just to mention some of them there's Roger Yount the banker and his family; Mary, whose mother is dying of cancer; Freddy the footballer from Senegal; and an artist rather like Banksy. Naturally they're all live quite different lives and they're captured very well, being believable and very interesting. I enjoyed reading of Freddy's first steps into the English Premier League as his father tries to get used to an unfamiliar country, while Mary's story is certainly emotional as she struggles to come to terms with her mother's condition.
The mystery of the postcards never really gripped me, and I found that disappointing. It started well, but I soon lost interest. Even as it progresses this part of the plot never prompts the characters to feel more than concern about antisocial behaviour. But while the plot alone wouldn't have been enough to keep me hooked, the characters are varied, well-presented, and it's all very believable. Their individual stories kept me turning pages, and because of that I did enjoy reading Capital.
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.
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.
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!)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Liked the detail of the streets and lives of the inhabitants. Flimsy plot to peg it on and I did find it funny - always a plus!Published 1 month ago by SOLID SILVER
I suppose that I am like a number of people, in that I saw the TV series of this (which was okay as such) and decided to read the novel. Read morePublished 1 month ago by M. Dowden
It goes absolutely nowhere until two thirds of the way through the two most predictable things that could possibly happen, happen. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Freddy
Well constructed, believable characters who don't become caricatures. Somewhat episodic and some parts of the stories are skimmed over but a rewarding read nonethelessPublished 2 months ago by Carol Young
I enjoyed this. It's long and with lots of intertwining stories and characters I found it very slow. Read morePublished 3 months ago by SurfaceSurfer