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Capital
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on 27 January 2015
The inhabitants of Pepys Street all have their different forms of capital in which they have invested; for Roger Yount the banker there is the status that his huge annual bonuses bring; for Mary it is her family; for Freddy it is his talent for football that has brought him to London from Senegal; for artist Smitty it is his long cultivated anonymity; for the Kamals it is the peace that comes from their faith. And yet all of them risk losing their capital as a result of the changes that gentrification brings. Nor the least of these is the anonymous photographs that appear through their letter boxes depicting their own house and the message “We want what your have”. The stories intermingle though they don’t quite interlock and the mystery of the postcards is solved a little limply. The book is longer than it needs to be and some of the characters are just not very engaging. A pleasant read though not an unmissable one.
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on 23 November 2017
This game was on my husbands wishlist so I didn’t read the reviews just the discription. I thought I was getting a good deal for this and that he chose this one I thought I shall buy it for him. However when it arrived I thought the packaging was smaller than expected and inside there was a book called Capital by John Lanchester, I defiantly ordered a game and not a book. Checked the invoice inside the box and it does say Granna Capital Game! I think a book and game are two completely different things. I’m
Currently waiting a response from. There are less than 10 left at this moment in time and I’m not sure weather to order again or wait for a reply.
Update: I have received a refund and was able to keep the book which will probably go to a charity shop. I have reported this issue to amazon but it is still being advertised as the game and not the book. If you are a gamer or buying for a gamer, be aware, if you order from this page you will not receive the game.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 8 December 2013
Capital is a story of capitalism. 2008. One street - Pepys Road - a fictional street in south London has risen from humble workers' houses to desirable conversions for high-rolling bankers. The gentrification has happened gradually and blossomed recently, leaving some of the houses in the hands of long-standing residents who could not dream of affording to buy into such a prestigious area today. Hence Petunia, an octogenarian who has lived in Pepys Road all her life and the Kamals, shopkeepers of Pakistani heritage rub shoulders with Roger Yount, multi-millionaire banker, and Freddy, a Senegalese football prodigy who has just signed a contract with an unnamed west London Premiership football team.

Capital follows a year on the street, starting from the moment the residents receive postcards of their front doors with a simple message: We Want What You Have. This MacGuffin provides a bookend for a tumultuous year for Pepys Road. There are many strands of story as each of the residents' lives wax and wane, intersect and conflict. The characters are beautifully drawn - gentle, understated and sympathetic even when they do beastly things. And the supporting cast of servants, staff, underlings and traffic wardens play out beautifully. Each is convincing but is allowed enough individuality to avoid becoming stereotypes. There are surprises in the plot direction, but it is really the conversations and interaction that fizz and spark. The narrative is brilliantly understated with backhanded compliments and bons mots aplenty. This makes a long book fly by; it is brimming with interest and never feels bloated or stretched. If anything, by the end we wish it could have gone on - seen how some of the loose ends tie up.

Anyone who has lived in London will surely recognise the people - perhaps if not from their neighbours, then from those whose conversations they have to endure on the train. London is a diverse, multicultural city and some of the racial tensions are played out in Capital. I counted characters from Britain, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Poland, Hungary Nigeria and Pakistan. There were references to Italy, Belgium and Chechnya. It sets London up as a world capital, the centre of banking, commerce, art and refuge. It portrayed the city as young; the few older characters were out of place and adrift.

In 2002, Tim Lott published a novel called Rumours of a Hurricane, the story of the financial meltdown of the late 1980s. Ten years later, Capital represents the definitive fictional statement on the start of the Global Financial Crisis. Both novels capture a nation and its values, its aspirations and its people at a specific moment in history. Both are funny, readable and real. And both are ultimately heartbreaking.
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on 15 November 2016
Premature to write a review as I didn't finish the book. A friend of mine was reviewing my latest novel set in a financial background. She suggested that I read this book on how to write a novel with a financial background. I bought a Kindle version and I went through perhaps 100 pages, 10 or 12 chapters all providing a context, setting scene, but nothing was happening. Its the residents of a block of flats in Lambeth, the back story of each. Get on with it man.

One day I will complete the book and update this review.
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VINE VOICEon 26 May 2013
John Lanchester's 'Capital' feels like it's the author's state-of-the-nation novel; as much a slice of social history as it is novel. Its grand scope and size certainly lends it the air of a Victorian-style epic, and although perhaps a shade too long, it does, ultimately, both entertain and provoke thought on how we live.

The basic premise of the book is a mystery, with a series of increasingly disturbing and threatening 'We Want What You Have' messages being delivered anonymously to the various residents of Pepys Road, London. This gives Lanchester the canvas on which to explore the lives of several inhabitants, from the wealthy banker with the lazy wife, to the dying widow, the Muslim-run family shop, the immigrant football star, the asylum-seeker, the wheeler-dealer property tycoon etc. None of the stories that unfold really connect, and it's the location where they live than the lives they lead that joins the story together. Impressively, there is a sense of actually caring about most of the characters, when usually in fiction like this the people tend to be annoying stereotypes.

The thread that holds the book together - the mystery of who is running the 'We Want What You Have' campaign - fizzles out towards the end and loses some of its momentum, but by this time the characters themselves have become more interesting and actually become more engaging as a way of concluding things. Lanchester's narrative is a little uneven at times, and some sectoins are more interesting tha others, but overall the book is certainly entertaining. The reach of the novel perhaps means some strands are not as neatly tied up as they might be with a leaner form of storytelling, but generally it works pretty well. A long read, but certainly rewarding.
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on 6 April 2015
Mixed feelings on this one. One of those stories about groups of loosely connected characters based on a London Street over a period of change. Sprinkle in some crime, deaths and even terrorism. Not a thriller, some romance but even a pinch of police procedural. Many of the characters I found dull but some were excellent. The backdrop of London as the capital in the title whilst the capital i.e. asset of property and money provided the links of the story.

Did not enthrall me but a steady story nonetheless.
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on 21 July 2013
I really enjoyed this. Basically a satire which romps through 2006-8, from the peak of the housing prices in London to the first bank crashes thanks to toxic assets. The story had multiple threads linked through the residents of one street, and covered the full social range of people from city traders to immigrant builders, original (ancient) residents of the street with history, asylum seekers and the Muslims who own the local shop, with a host of colourful characters in between.

With such a big cast, most of them were a bit cardboard-ish, but that's to be expected in a satire anyway. Similarly, some of the sub-plots were rather predictable, but given that it's a modern-day satire then they would have to be.

It was very funny, very well written and I read it in just a few gulps. Going to look for more of this author.
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on 30 January 2013
I usually enjoy stories about and/or set in London, which is why I decided to read Capital. The premise for the novel was what sealed the deal for me - one London street with all its inhabitants described, linked by a strange event and their individual stories coming together in some way to give a satisfying end. The novel is set just prior to the banking crisis of the last few years. I thought the characters well-described and quite believable, and I came to like most of them, although I think they are too strongly categorised into poorer = morally sound and wealthy = self-absorbed. But for the purposes of the story I suppose it works. The 'We Want What You Have' thread, which is used in the blurb as a hook but is actually not the main focus of the novel. Rather, the story focusses on money, the 'capital' of the title, and its relationship with each of the characters. I suspect that the point being made is something along the lines of 'no matter what their circumstances, people are ultimately always thinking about money' and the final unravelling of the lives of the characters is warning against getting to comfortable. I agree with another reviewer that some passages feel over-written, particularly the ones set in Pinker Lloyd, and I found myself skimming some passages just to get back to the story. The novel has short chapters, which gives an odd sense of rapid progress that doesn't quite match the speed of the narrative until the very end, when the lives of the characters begin to change. The ending felt too abrupt, almost as if the author had run out of steam. I admit I had never read anything by this author before and I was surprised to see how much he has written previously. There is something about Capital that says 'debut novel', not that that is a bad thing of course. Ultimately, I would say that this is a good story but nothing to get excited about.
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on 27 March 2013
A good story, if slightly over-long, giving us a year in the life of a disparate group of characters who all live or work in a gentrified street of terraces somewhere in south London. It's told in over 100 short chapters, which aids a speedy read, and is loosely tied together with a sub-plot of anonymous correspondence and later harassment of the residents.
With so many characters of different nationalities and backgrounds, it's hard to avoid stereotyping them. But Lanchester mainly succeeds in giving us two-dimensional people who I did begin to care about as the book progressed.
It's a book about people and their lives, hopes, and dreams but the author's also got something to say about our capital city - how it's perceived by those who've always lived there and by those who've more recently arrived in this diverse city. The other sense of capital - money - is also considered in what it means to those characters who either have plenty or who will never have enough.
Plenty of novelists have attempted the definitive London novel - the most enjoyable one for me is London Belongs to Me (Penguin Modern Classics) for a view of a very different city set 70 years ago.
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on 24 August 2015
I downloaded this ages ago when it was cheap and then just didn't fancy it once I started reading so gave up. However, in clearing up my kindle I went back to it and now it's hard to see why I was so down on it originally
It's such a good book, very entertaining with lots of human drama and events. I found I cared about the characters who were all believable and I was sorry when it was over. It was very unexpected.
All I can say, if like me you don't like the first few pages, stick with it because it really is worth it. Will certainly try some of the author's other books.
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