books

A week in December, by Sebastian Faulks

Shortly after Solar, here’s another novel that seems worth mentioning here on Make Wealth History. Sebastian Faulks’ A Week in December follows the lives of a handful of people in the city of London over seven days in December 2007. They include a tube driver, a snotty literary critic, a North London trophy wife, and crucially, a city banker and an Islamic militant.

Those latter two are both plotting something terrible, and the book follows their comings and goings as they prepare for their respective big days. We eavesdrop on secret meetings and communications, but also meet their families and their friends. Their plans begin to unfold, the various other characters’ stories gradually intersecting and weaving together, the later chapters building up a real tension and a sense of looming disaster.

It’s an interesting compare and contrast exercise between socially destructive elements, the Islamic terrorist and the hedge fund manager. Some enemies of the people we tolerate and others we don’t. Both of them have their own ends, and a view of the world that justifies their actions. Is either one more deluded than the other? Or more evil?

Another character is addicted to a Second Life style online game, another is schizophrenic, and Faulks contrasts these constructed realities, one chosen and one unchosen. Other characters open up questions about competition, wealth, and consumerism.

Like most books that follow multiple stories, you’ll warm to some characters more than others. And some of the caricatures will ring more true than others too. (And they are caricatures. The banker John Veals is practically a pantomime villain – he never smiles, we’re told).

A Week in December is a novel that captures a way of life at a certain point in history and at a specific time, London in 2007. It’s a turning point of sorts, one that’s not yet resolved, and an intriguing idea to explore through fiction.

3 comments

  1. I preferred the terrorist to John Veals myself. I had a lot more sympathy for him. The book was a strange construct, a bit like a modern everyman play in the way it tried to be representative of society, but I found it a bit strained and formualic.

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