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A Week in December

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  8,669 ratings  ·  982 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;
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published October 4th 2009 by Hutchinson (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.27  · 
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 ·  8,669 ratings  ·  982 reviews

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Ruby Barnes
Jan 25, 2011 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 Ansbacher
Dec 27, 2011 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
Ian Mapp
Jul 09, 2010 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
Jun 23, 2010 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
Apr 11, 2013 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
Zack Rock
Oct 02, 2013 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
Feb 08, 2011 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
Feb 25, 2011 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
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
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
Deb Victoroff
Dec 29, 2012 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
Lorenzo Berardi
May 20, 2013 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
Huw Rhys
Dec 22, 2010 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
Andrew Smith
Jan 04, 2011 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
Melanie Peake
Nov 19, 2009 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
Nov 30, 2010 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
Feb 15, 2015 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
Nov 16, 2010 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
Aug 25, 2011 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
Rima Ben Hammadi
2.5 stars.
It has a lot of unnecessary information. It could have been shorter.. the plot was good. I liked the fact how people from different backgrounds met. What I really likes was the fact that he has a right picture of Islam and did not sabotage it's image.
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This postmodern state-of-the-nation novel has been likened to Trollope’s The Way We Live Now or to the works of nineteenth-century French novelist Honoré de Balzac. What it may remind you most of, however, is Dickens’s Bleak House, especially with Faulks’s excellent opening line, “Five o’clock and freezing,” and a long first paragraph giving a broad, sweeping overview of London in December 2007.

Faulks’s vision encompasses all sorts of people: the good and the bad, the high and the lowly. His cha
Dec 26, 2010 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
Jan 04, 2010 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
Natalie Christie
Aug 11, 2011 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
James Tingle

This is the only Faulks book that I've read to date and I'm not sure why I picked this one when Birdsong was sat near it on the bookcase and I've heard is supposed to be very good, but there you go. I think I probably did pick it out to read, maybe two years ago now, because the back cover description mentioned these varied characters with their differing backgrounds and it sounded like it may all converge into something pretty memorable. That wasn't really how things panned out unfortunately...
Nick Davies
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group, 2017
I was given this to read for this month's book as part of the book group I'm a part of. Having heard of, but never read, Sebastian Faulks I was looking forward to seeing what this had to offer.

I was not disappointed - particularly in terms of how well-written this was, and how a large cast of characters was described with sensitivity and realism, and a clear delineation which made several strands easy to, and a pleasure to, follow. The prose was intelligent without ever feeling over-descripted,
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I gave this three stars because I actually enjoyed the second half of it, having been bored with what came prior. I think it is worth persevering to see the allegory that Faulks opens up to us, not just of the barbarity of humanity, but of religion in its many diseased forms; and those who would be gods.

I enjoyed how Faulks persuaded me to empathise with the young Muslim man, Hassan, how this waned and the discomfort I felt as I followed his search for truth and meaning. His story is particularl
Jan 07, 2011 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
Menie's (παρενθετικές) reflections
Someone bought it for me on an airport and it's been 10 years I try to take it out of my TBR list. I made it on my 3rd attempt. I can't say it was that boring but it sure was derivative, redundant and full of clichés. It seems to be written in a haste so as
to become a timely (to the then crisis) best-seller. Hence, Faulks does a rather sloppy job of defining and simultaneously cautetizing the 7 mortal sins of modernity in a narration that gets too prolix. Under no circumstances Veals was the ul
Mar 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a bad former-bookstore-employee. I've never read Sebastian Faulks. I've had a copy of Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War and Charlotte Gray on my bookshelf for years, and while they both look great I never actually picked either up to read. Instead I started with his newest book, which seems to be a completely different story from the abovementioned titles. At least based on what little I know about them.

The title here makes no lie. The story really is about one week in December. It takes pla
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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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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