A Week in December
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A Week in December

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  4,270 ratings  ·  615 reviews
From the author of the bestselling Birdsong comes a powerful novel that melds the moral heft of Dickens and the scrupulous realism of Trollope with the satirical spirit of Tom Wolfe.

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...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Doubleday (first published 2009)
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Ruby Barnes
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
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
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
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
Alistair
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...more
Sammie
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
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
Andrew Smith
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
Lorenzo Berardi
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
Zack Rock
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
Deb Victoroff
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Matt
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
Wendi
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
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.
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
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
James
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
Alan
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
Stephen Clynes
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
Mariana
2.5 stars

After a slow and disappointing start (I absolutely loved Faulks' Engleby and so was expecting to be equally as engaged by this one), this book warmed on me slightly and as the story developed I wanted to keep reading to see how it would all turn out. Saying that though I didn't really feel any particular fondness (or even repulsion) for any of the characters as we never really seemed to get to know them all that well. Perhaps there were just too many to really get to grips with.
I also...more
Jenny
This book is really not very good. Part of the problem is that it's set in contemporary London and yet uses fictional equivalents of real places, celebrities, websites and TV programmes. This is just a bit cringeworthy.

The range of characters are all privileged and thoroughly dislikeable. Most of them are multi-millionaires and upper middle class. Two exceptions are the impoverished barrister and train driver who start an improbable relationship which seems to be founded on the superficial grou...more
Jeanette
Faulks book provides a social commentary on London in December 2007. The reader meets a vindictive book reviewer failed novelist, a disillusioned Islamic youth turned potential suicide bomber, a young woman who is a tube driver and an addict to Parallex, an alternative world computer game site, Gabriel, a struggling lawyer, his brother who is a hospital schizophrenic who hears voices telling him that he will burn in hell if he doesn't do as the voice says, a hedge fund manager and his dysfunctio...more
Vicky (Books, Biscuits, and Tea)
Rating: 2.5 stars
Read my full review at http://booksbiscuitsandtea.blogspot.c...

This has been the first book I've read by Sebastian Faulks and I had such high hopes for this. The cover is drop-dead gorgeous (being in love with London I'm a little bit partial anyway), the blurb sounded promising and I was eager to start reading it - only to discover that it's not nearly as good as I thought it would be. In short, it's a huge disappointment.

It could have been so much better though! The main idea i...more
Laura
Jan 04, 2011 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travelers
This book began slowly, almost painfully. I was convinced the author really had nothing to say, and would say it as slowly as possible. It was literally the middle of the book before I felt involved.

There were, to be sure, a great many one-dimensional characters, not least of which is an uber-Gordon Gekko character. He is loathsome and satisfyingly smaller than life. If he had any additional dimensions, one would be tempted to feel something for him, but one isn’t. I think, in retrospect, that...more
Andrew
This is a multi-stranded contemporary novel set in London just prior to the financial crisis, although the book was written just after. Not surprisingly the action takes place over a week. In December. The novel is really a set of short stories, following the progress of a large cast through a week that proves to be quite eventful. Most of these are people who have been invited to a posh dinner party at the end of the week (and their families), however they generally don’t know each other that w...more
Jeremy
To me Sebastian Faulks writes novels firmly set in a historical context with lots of description, atmosphere and beautiful prose. His books are slow burn, complex and deeply satisfying but challenging. For him to attempt to cram 7 stories together in a book so short was always going to be a difficult task. To accomplish this he has had to significantly up the pace and shorten the sections in the book which has moved this novel into Robert Goddard territory. However, and significantly, he has man...more
Maggi
I was surprised to see a fair amount of poor Goodreads reviews on this book having found it quite fascinating. It's an ambitious book, to be sure. However, despite characters that some found one-dimensional or even caricatures, Faulks succeeds in tying together such disparate threads as hedge fund managers, would-be radical Islamic terrorists, virtual reality, soccer, teenage alienation, and the nature of the universe all with the "melting pot" of London (in the time span of one week) as the bac...more
Jill
Sebastian Faulks is nothing if not ambitious. In his latest book, a sweeping and piercing satire about contemporary London, Mr. Faulks takes on everything from the financial meltdown and the profusion of silly book awards to shockingly offensive reality TV, cyber porn, London football, and, for good measure, Islamic radicalism. The good news is, for the most part, he succeeds admirably.

Within these pages, we meet a fascinating cast of characters: a hedge fund manager who plots and schemes to bec...more
Tim Cole
Reason for reading:
Working in London and understanding a little about where all the characters described on the back of the book might be coming from. I put it on my Amazon Wish List and Ruth chose it for me thinking it was the right title for a book to give someone for Christmas. I want to read Birdsong later in the year, but for rather different reasons.

Abot the book:
London. December 2007. Sunday 16 to Saturday 22. A newly eleceted MP's wife goes through the invitees to a dinner party taking p...more
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Sebastian Faulks in Conversation @ British Library 1 15 Apr 02, 2013 03:32AM  
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4229
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
More about Sebastian Faulks...
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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.” 39 likes
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