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A Week in December Paperback – 2 Sep 2010

3.0 out of 5 stars 347 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (2 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099458284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099458289
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (347 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Richly entertaining and highly rewarding" (Evening Standard)

"During times of momentous change, men of letters are driven to produce works that fictionalise the state of the nation, linking individuals with historic events. The 19th century gave us Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Dickens's Our Mutual Friend and Trollope's The Way We Live Now; the 21st has given us Sebastian Faulks's A Week in December" (Sunday Times)

"Often edgily satirical, sometimes deeply affecting, A Week in December grasps its headline motifs with the strong and supple hands of a master" (Independent)

"Hilarious... The satire is so vicious that at times it's like reading a Tom Sharpe novel" (Daily Telegraph)

"This vast novel, well-plotted and gripping throughout, is the first that Sebastian Faulks has set in our time...the ambition and scope of the book are to be applauded. The conclusion is suitably nail-biting and, pleasingly, love triumphs. Sebastian Faulks has probably got another best-seller on his hands" (Spectator)

Book Description

Powerful contemporary novel set in London from a master of literary fiction.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Looking through the online reviews I think this book is much underrated. In fact so many people complained that the ending was weak that I nearly gave up on it - but I am very glad that I didn't.

In the event I found the ending excellent and the whole book coherent, stylish and important. It avoids the James Bond denouement that some readers seem to have been hoping for but surely they can find that elsewhere. The several catastrophes that were actually described are far more devastating for being far more real. Indeed the story mirrors events that have occurred since it was written to an extent which is truly extraordinary.

There was an element of satire and exaggeration as Faulks savaged his various modern stereotypes with devastating power. But for me the targets were well chosen and the attacks as justified as they were overdue. The Telegraph reviewer quoted on the back cover said it was 'hilarious' and the 'satire [was] so vicious..." Mandy Rice Davies once gave the definitive explanation for that kind of trivialisation of the book's attack!

Faulks' research is prodigious and the book gave insights into a surprising variety of faces of the modern world that I definitely needed to know about, even if I didn't particularly want to. The recurring motif of the anonymous cyclist without lights pushing past on the pavement gave a surreal feel which was a little magical.

I strongly recommend it. It deserves to endure as a parable of our age.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover
Having never read anything by Faulks before, I was surprised by how trashy-feeling this book was - it reads sort of like a lad-lit novel. My interest was piqued by all the talk of this being an attempt at parsing the State Of The Nation and by the fact that it is an early post-credit crunch novel by a major author. But despite all this hype and the portentous cover art and the fact that bankers and hedge-fund managers are among the many characters featured, the book is much more light-weight than I thought it was going to be.

I did enjoy it but I would have to say it is basically missable. The way it is made up of a large ensemble of characters following various intersecting storylines does mean it is probable you will like some stories more than others and may groan when you see you have to trudge through another passage from your least favourite strand. But it does add variety and by the last 100 pages I was eager to find out how each storyline concluded.

My problems were mainly with authenticity: some characters were much less convincing than others, time after time people spoke in highly contrived rants, points the writer was trying to make were often conveyed heavy-handedly and there were too many unlikely coincidences and unbelievable plot points. In fact talking of authenticity, it kind of annoyed me the way Faulks avoided using the real-life names for so many things in the novel, or invented parts of pop-culture. The big female pop group are called Girls From Behind, the big reality show (on Channel 7) is called It's Madness and consists of a snippy panel of judges taking the piss out of the (literally) mentally-ill contestants who then go on to stay in a big-brother style house etc etc.
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By Jl Adcock VINE VOICE on 17 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Surprisingly, Faulks has written a bad novel with "A Week in December". Usually, he engages us with characters you actually want to know about, and develop some concern for; but not this time. Weaving together stories from several unlikeable characters, this sprawling book reminded me of "Mother London" by Michael Moorcock, in its shape and ambition, and it just didn't read like a Sebastian Faulks novel should.

Perhaps a spell "writing as Ian Fleming" has had a lasting impact on Faulks. It struck me here at times that although he'd done lots of research into the world of finance and dodgy deals, he's written about it in a way that didn't feel entirely authentic, and if anything he's made the topic of finance even more dreary. Fleming could sometimes be accused of the same - research into subjects that didn't always translate well in the Bond novels. So, perhaps there are dangers in writing as someone else!

Disappointingly, this latest offering from Sebastian Faulks is a bit of mess, hard going in places, and although wide-ranging in showing the author's knowledge on several different contemporary topics, it all feels a bit laboured and smug.
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