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Capital Paperback – 1 Mar 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 686 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571234615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571234615
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (686 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 610,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

From the bestselling author of Whoops!: A post-crash, state-of-the-nation novel told with compassion, humour and truth

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The story begins "At first light on a late summer morning..." with a mysterious man creepily filming the houses of Pepys Road. The prologue kick-starts the chain of unsettling events that tenuously link the characters together.

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.
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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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Format: 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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By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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