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A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
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Jun 14, 12

bookshelves: fiction, contemporary
Read from May 25 to June 14, 2012

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 well, with only the occasional business or personal connection with another in the group.

The cast include a hedge fund manager who is about to precipitate the financial crisis, a down-on-his-luck barrister, a train driver, a businessman, a footballer, a literary critic, and a Muslim fanatic. Plus several more. I felt that there were a few too many characters actually, I had trouble remembering where their story had last left off.

The individual stories are excellent though, and I read this in seemingly record time. Despite each person’s story being quite short you didn’t feel short changed as a reader and I certainly felt that I had got a measure of each character. Sign of a good writer! Veals, the hedge fund manager is a pretty horrible bloke, with a completely amoral outlook about his actions that he knows will make the economy collapse. This is contrasted with Hassan, the fundamentalist planning a bomb attack. The novel seems to be asking you to compare morally two attacks on Western society: a bomber whose genuine beliefs and worries about the state of Western society have been inflamed and exploited by others, or the financier who is so contemptuous about everyone else that he is completely indifferent to the large scale suffering caused by his actions.

To soften this the other stories are just about people getting on with their life, falling in love, getting jobs, winning awards and so on. I presume this is to show that for most people it is the living of life that is important, and the abstract worlds of extreme politics and finance don’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

This was enjoyable and over a bit too quick. I wish it had been ‘A Fortnight in December’. Other than the slightly-too-large cast and the odd feeling that the main action was actually going to be the week after, there is nothing to complain about. I wish my weeks were as interesting. :-)
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Reading Progress

06/05/2012 page 114
29.0%
06/11/2012 page 271
69.0% "I'm rattling through this. Good stuff!"
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