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A Week in December

3.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,039 Ratings  ·  758 Reviews
A powerful contemporary novel set in London from a master of literary fiction.

London, the week before Christmas, 2007. Over seven days we follow the lives of seven major characters: a hedge fund manager trying to bring off the biggest trade of his career; a professional footballer recently arrived from Poland; a young lawyer with little work and too much time to speculate;
...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 4th 2009 by Hutchinson (first published 2009)
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The Help by Kathryn StockettThe Year of the Flood by Margaret AtwoodThe Children's Book by A.S. ByattSummertime by J.M. CoetzeeA Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
IMPAC 2011 Longlist
5th out of 26 books — 12 voters
Charlotte Gray by Sebastian FaulksThe Girl at the Lion d'Or by Sebastian FaulksBirdsong by Sebastian FaulksEngleby by Sebastian FaulksDevil May Care by Sebastian Faulks
Best of Sebastian Faulks
12th out of 24 books — 2 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ruby Barnes
Aug 25, 2011 Ruby Barnes rated it it was ok
This book left me wondering why SF had failed to write a great novel and has me running to my bookshelf to compare his French trilogy and Human Traces. About halfway through A Week in December, a peripheral character (Shahla) spoke and her voice sounded like the first real person in the book. The other characters are caricatures as much as the closely named celebrities, corporations, institutions and consumer products mimic reality with schoolboy quirkiness. Couples have conversations with each ...more
Will
Dec 30, 2011 Will rated it it was ok
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for Faulks it is more like 3 to 10 thousand. Some authors let a few words or a phrase fill in the scene in your imagination, but not Faulks: his scenes are more like a Hieronymus Bosch or Where’s Waldo ... everything is there in excruciating detail, not just in the present but including all the history that he thinks we need to know to place the 7 short days in context.

We apparently need to know not just the socially-awkward Underground train dr
...more
Ian Mapp
Jul 09, 2010 Ian Mapp rated it it was amazing
I think this may well have been the first Faulks novel set in modern day that I have read - having gone through the wars, victorian mental health and the 1970s - we now have a state of the nation book.

And what a clever book it is. A the title suggests, spread over 1 week, this details the lives of a number of london residents - the tube driver who has been involved in a suicide, the banker who is trying to manipulate the markets for his own good, the suicide bomber, the barrister, the pickle mak
...more
Hellion
Jun 23, 2010 Hellion rated it did not like it
I read a lot, and my reading matter is many and varied, the worst I ever feel about a book is 'It was OK' BUT, I absolutely loathed this book! There was no depth to the characters and they were unreal in the extreme, they felt as though he'd taken every cliche about different social groups/occupations and amalgamated them in to his characters - and the result was weak and unrealistic. The intertwining storylines felt as though they were leading up to a big event which would change the characters ...more
Hanneke
Apr 04, 2015 Hanneke rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, although I see here on GR that a lot of people did not care for it. I thought it was an interesting read, presenting us with a wide array of different people. The book is well written, funny and often sad as well. But it is, above all, every informative. I do not recall ever having been given a peek into the mind of a hedge fund manager or a well educated Muslim youth from a rich family who is about to commit a terrorist attack. And what about the vicious book reviewe ...more
Sammie
Feb 25, 2011 Sammie rated it did not like it
In a word - Disappointing. I liked the idea of this book - covering the overlapping lives of seven people in london over seven days. But the execution of it was poor, particularly when compared to Faulks' previous works.

There was very little chance to feel anything for any of the main characters, they were all just a little too vague. It amuses me that a quote from this very text, a character's assesment of a book she is reading, actually sums up one of my biggest complaints about it - "The wor
...more
Melanie Peake
Nov 19, 2009 Melanie Peake rated it it was ok
I have read two other books by Sebastian Faulks, and my verdict has always been the same - "it was alright...." ! No change with this one, but I must admit, it kept me interested enough to keep reading to the end,*SPOILER ALERT!* to a denouement that actually failed to appear......
One thing that annoyed me was the use of obvious alternative names for people and popular culture phenomena that are recognisable to us. If you are setting a novel in the present day (it's set in 2007, which is as near
...more
Alistair
Feb 08, 2011 Alistair rated it did not like it
this is total crap !
sebastian faulks is a literary lovie and i quite liked Birdsong but how he managed to garner the favourable reviews that litter the back cover god only knows . the reviewers must have been paying back a few favours for a mate . this meant to be a state of the nation novel equivalent to Trollope or Dickens but it turns out to be more like Ben Elton without the humour
if you thought of every cliched character that might feature in such a state of the nation in 2008 sebastian a
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Paul
Seven days and seven people; a fund manager, a tube driver, a football star, a poor lawyer, a skunk addicted school boy, a hack book reviewer and a student who is committed to the ultimate cause of Islam.

As these characters lives orbit around London and each other, you start to understand what is driving them, the hack who wants to rubbish a fellow reviewers new novel, the fund manager is trying to pull of the biggest deal of his life by pushing a bank into collapse. His teenage son has just obt
...more
Andrew Smith
Jan 04, 2011 Andrew Smith rated it liked it
The fact that the most finely-drawn character in this book of seven human protagonists is an eighth inanimate individual — the sprawling city of London — might indicate a kind of failing on the author's part, but that would be untrue. It's just that Faulks does such a fine job, with a minimum of deft description, to summon up the sweep of London's neighourhoods that the result is a vivid living and breathing milieu, perfect glue for the varied array of people and situations in this quite wonderf ...more
Matt
May 24, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it
Seven characters in seven days. It’s a fun premise, and alongside fond memories of Faulks’ Birdsong, and the fact I hadn’t read any non-fantasy fiction in a while, it’s the main reason A Week in December caught my eye.

When it works, the setup presents deftly flits between the perspectives of seven much-varied souls as their lives cross, Dickens-style, in the week before Christmas 2007. One of the most interesting tales is that of Hassan Al-Rasheed, a disaffected young Muslim whose immigrant fath
...more
Zack Rock
Oct 02, 2013 Zack Rock rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Drawing from exhaustive, in-depth research that evidently consisted of half-reading several Wikipedia articles, in A Week in December, novelist Sebastian Faulks boldly takes aim at forces in modern British life he misunderstands but nonetheless despises--including finance, technology, religion, reality TV, and humanity. A humor-free satire, what the book lacks in funny it more than makes up for in full on Islamophobia. You know, bigotry! LAFFS!

While humor might be hard to find, the book's themes
...more
Lorenzo Berardi
May 26, 2013 Lorenzo Berardi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, 2013
I knew I shouldn't have bought this.
But, alas, I did.

What could I have bought instead for 1.50 pounds? Mmmh...let's see
- half iced vanilla latte at the local coffee place;
- 5 litres of still mineral water from the cornershop;
- a big bunch of fair trade bananas;
And so it goes.

I remember how 'A Week in December' was included in a list named 'books you should read about post-financial crisis London' published in The Economist.

The list included 'Other people's money' by Justin Cartwright and 'Capit
...more
Deb Victoroff
Dec 29, 2012 Deb Victoroff rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up in an airport desperate for a book for a long plane ride. I had no expectations but a lot of hope because it got glowing reviews on its cover - but sometimes those are misleading. But I was riveted from beginning to end. The end is slightly on the abrupt side - it's a surprise which is good, but the loose ends are tied up too quickly - perhaps because I loved the characters so much that I wanted another 100 pages.

There are many characters but I've seldom been introduced to
...more
Glenys
Nov 30, 2010 Glenys rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Glenys by: Patrice
I loved this book, a timely, well-plotted, acutely observed intertwining of several lives over one week, and a biting, almost vituperative satire on 'the way we live now'. Indeed in the evil genius of the book, John Veals, there are echoes of Augustus Melmotte, the financier in Trollope's novel of that name. This is a wonderful characterisation of an emotionally disabled man who lives to manipulate the markets, taking short positions on a bank 'too big to fail' and engineering a situation that c ...more
James
Feb 25, 2012 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to James by: Lou Robinson
Shelves: london
An odd ensemble cast production and not my normal type of novel at all. Faulks has brought together a list of almost entirely unlikeable characters -- Veals the amoral banker, happily crashing a bank filled with old folk's pensions while ignoring his 'chilly' wife and their poorly parented son who's busy smoking his way into a psychiatric ward. Trantor (RT) the failed author, taking out his bitterness on those authors who are actually writing novels. He tears anything modern apart. The barely tw ...more
Ebaa Momani
Sep 07, 2015 Ebaa Momani rated it it was ok
In general, this book was interesting. It touches on themes based on issues we face in our everyday lives. How some rich people build their wealth on the shoulders of others was an amazing theme. It was also entertaining as it kept me hooked to know more about the characters. However, most were not understood and I was a bit perplexed by them. For example, Jenny seemed to be more of an introvert at first, but later I find her quite socially intelligent in the way she deals with Gabriel. Also, th ...more
Erin
Mar 17, 2015 Erin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The premise and setting are interesting: 7 characters in 7 days set in contemporary London. Unfortunately, I found that far too many pages were dedicated to the insufferably boring story of John Veals, the immoral hedge fund manager. The trouble with choosing a character like this to dominate the story, is that you necessarily have to delve into the world in which a person like this lives (so we are pounded with pages of Faulks' research on world finance). The most we find out about Veals' real ...more
Stephen Clynes
Dec 30, 2011 Stephen Clynes rated it it was ok
Sebastian is not good at telling a story. The plot is shallow. You hope it will pick up or be different but it just continues to disappoint. Sebastian tries and teases by suggesting a plot where everything joins up in a climax that may involve a mystery cyclist but those are just distractions in this shallow and badly told story. A Week in December leads you to think there would be an explosive ending - it does not, it peters out into a sob.

I disliked the structure of this novel as it kept movi
...more
Wendi
Apr 05, 2010 Wendi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
A Week in December
By Sebastian Faulks

Published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc., New York

Reminiscent of Paul Haggis’ 2004 Crash, A Week in December is a dark, raw, voyeuristic glimpse into the interrelated lives of several Londoner’s during the course of one December week. With over seven main characters and numerous minor, the storyline derives its momentum through fragmented snippets of senseless subsistence wherein, Faulks details the mundane, the reprehensible and the misguided
...more
Jules
Apr 16, 2012 Jules rated it it was amazing
Being a big reader, I find it hard to admit that this is the first Sebastian Faulks book that I have read. After hearing many positive reviews about his work, I read this book after being persuaded by the back-cover blurb and the intriguing front cover. As it stands, this book explains almost perfectly a week of average, modern life in the capital for a cross-section of pressurised characters. Faulks is a genius as he strips down would-be successful characters (ranging from a hedge-fund manager, ...more
F.R.
Aug 04, 2015 F.R. rated it liked it
This undoubtedly ambitious novel attempts to combine drama, satire and an expose of the financial sector, through examining a selection of lives across London at the end of 2007. Unfortunately, it probably misses more targets than it hits.

Creating a range of characters (most of whom are middle class, some exceeding wealthy), Faulks uses them to conjure a picture of London just before the financial crash. So, we have a failing barrister, a tube driver, a Premiership footballer and a would-be suic
...more
Pamela
Dec 26, 2010 Pamela rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this. Loved Birdsong. Enjoyed Charlotte Gray and The Fatal Englishman. The Sunday Times called it a best seller and likened Faulk’s effort to that of Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, a brilliant, wickedly funny and affectionate dissection of English life and people in the nineteenth century. Why? What did they see in this novel that drew them to that conclusion? Sure, Faulks subjects features (reality T.V.) and representative personalities (hedge-fund fiend) of 21st century l ...more
Huw Rhys
Jan 16, 2011 Huw Rhys rated it really liked it
Not everybody likes this book. But that's probably because they don't get it.

We ought to know by now that Sebastian Faulks' books don't conform to any norm - each one is a finely etched little etching etched onto an etching - and each one is entirely original in every way.

In "A Week in December" Faulks doesn't try to write a novel which has a story building up to a crescendo; he doesn't try to create whole, 3-Dimensional characters nor does he try to write a series of apparently disparate short
...more
Kiera Healy
Feb 23, 2013 Kiera Healy rated it did not like it
Perhaps I shouldn't have read this book: I don't think I'm in the target audience. The whole thing has the sneering air of an in-joke, as though it should only have been circulated among Faulks' friends, who would presumably bray with laughter at what strikes me as tedious, poorly-done satire. Reading it feels like watching a bad film comedy with someone who keeps elbowing you in the side to tell you that this is a funny bit.

This novel is set in modern-day London, and follows the lives of a grou
...more
Joanne
May 18, 2015 Joanne rated it liked it
I gave up on this book in 2013 and didn't finish it. The first time round I found it tedious, slow, too many characters, hardly any I cared about. I was disappointed because I love Sebastian Faulks - he's one of my all-time favourite authors.

I tried it again recently and I enjoyed it. This time I read it in a few days and I was riveted (apart from the detailed economic explanations, but that's just me being lazy). I loved the way SF connected all the characters in one way or another, and how he
...more
Natalie Foubister
Aug 24, 2011 Natalie Foubister rated it it was amazing
i really enjoyed this book, but im unsure why if that makes any sense?? some of the financial details and islamic extremism was hard to trudge through, and there was very little detail on the majority of the 'main' characters but nonetheless i loved it! i cared about what was happening and Faulks manages to make totally believable characters and make them completely relavent and contemporary. i know that these people exist and its refreshing to see an author write about them. the honesty and unf ...more
Dorothy
Jan 10, 2010 Dorothy rated it it was amazing
I have read most of this author's books and in my opinion, this is his best. The book follows the lives of 6 diverse characters all living in London whose paths cross throughout the week in question. I was very impressed with the author's ability to take the reader inside the minds of the characters. One character who I found to be chilling, is a hedge fund manager, entirely amoral, who is able to cause global financial chaos through a few computer keystrokes while making billions of dollars for ...more
Alan
Jul 12, 2014 Alan rated it liked it
A more than usually difficult book to rate. I found the concept interesting but I'm not sure that it was executed as well as it should have been by an established author. With some intelligent editing and development or even fewer characters I would have found this as effective as Engelby or Birdsong.

I found it at time difficult to get to know or even remember some of the characters when they were recalled into the storyline. R Trantor and Farooq al-Rashid and certainly the socially inept John
...more
Lizzie Eldridge
Mar 28, 2016 Lizzie Eldridge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant novel. Beautifully written and with a compelling narrative, Faulks' book also stands as an astute commentary on the nature of 21st-century life. From the manipulation of financial markets to the isolation caused by 'communication' technologies, from Islamic fundamentalism to the alienated experience of a newly arrived Polish football player to a top London team, Faulks has brought so much together in an extremely credible, detailed and multi-layered story. He's managed to capture the m ...more
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'A Week in December' and 'White Teeth' 1 9 Oct 31, 2014 08:58AM  
Sebastian Faulks in Conversation @ British Library 1 17 Apr 02, 2013 03:32AM  
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Sebastian Faulks was born in 1953, and grew up in Newbury, the son of a judge and a repertory actress. He attended Wellington College and studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, although he didn’t enjoy attending either institution. Cambridge in the 70s was still quite male-dominated, and he says that you had to cycle about 5 miles to meet a girl. He was the first literary editor of “The Independe ...more
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“People never explain to you exactly what they think and feel and how their thoughts and feelings work, do they? They don't have time. Or the right words. But that's what books do. It's as though your daily life is a film in the cinema. It can be fun, looking at those pictures. But if you want to know what lies behind the flat screen you have to read a book. That explains it all.” 44 likes
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