Lucy's Reviews > A Week in December

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
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's review
Feb 10, 11

bookshelves: 2011
Read from February 02 to 10, 2011

This is the first satirical book of Sebastian Faulks that I have read (and to my knowledge could be only one he's ever written). Unfortunately it wasn't very good. In fact it was actually rather depressing.

He takes a scathing view of post-modern Britain, offering caricatures of 21st Century stereotypes: the evil money grabbing banker: the young muslim extremist: the socially imobile but well-read tube driver: the rich drunken mother. The rich were all obsessed with money, the poor were all obsessed with money, the kids were all screwed-up. It was all a little bit too much; in my opinion the key to good satire is subtlety and this was about as discrete as Katie Price's wardrobe (or Claire Prince as Faulks might have called her). Jane Austen it isnt.

The story follows a number of interlinked characters, many of which were so horrendous, I wanted to stop reading the book immediately. The book-critique was particularly loathsome individual, until about halfway through I decided to read his repentant criticisms of modern novels as a description of 'a week in December". I'm not sure if this was Faulks intention but it made the character somewhat more enjoyable.

My last consideration is concerning the female characters in the book; the characters play second fiddle to the men and represent a worryingly bleak view of women in 21st Century Britain. We have the 'rich drunken mother' and the 'well-read but love struck tube driver' as mentioned above but also the 'aching to please politicians wife' the 'cleverer than her husband but unawarded muslim wife' 'the money-loving eastern european porn star wag' and a whole host of more minor characters which no more admirable character traits. The one woman who appears to have a kernel of redeeming quality is the sort of mythical banker/family woman who conducts an affair, leaves banking and then runs off to be with her family. We never actually meet her.

I see what Faulks was trying to do: some kind of satirical social commentary. However the book was never funny, it was just bleak and bitter. In fact the book itself became a kind of parody of modern critique, no light at the end of the tunnel, just obvious and brutal criticism of the worst of society. I really really hope that this is not a true reflection of modern Britain because if it is, then quite frankly, the future is looking very griim indeed.
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