Read A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks Online


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;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; a student who has been led astray by Islamist theory; a hack book-reviewer; a schoolboy hooked on skunk and reality TV; and a Tube train driver whose Circle Line train joins these and countless other lives together in a daily loop.With daring skill, the novel pieces together the complex patterns and crossings of modern urban life. Greed, the dehumanising effects of the electronic age and the fragmentation of society are some of the themes dealt with in this savagely humorous book. The writing on the wall appears in letters ten feet high, but the characters refuse to see it — and party on as though tomorrow is a dream.Sebastian Faulks probes not only the self-deceptions of this intensely realised group of people, but their hopes and loves as well. As the novel moves to its gripping climax, they are forced, one by one, to confront the true nature of the world they inhabit....

Title : A Week in December
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780091794453
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 392 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Week in December Reviews

  • Ruby Barnes
    2018-11-25 23:35

    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 other that only serve to tell the reader information, disclosing things that they would have long ago said to each other. The linkages between events and characters are loudly telegraphed and fairly implausible. Specifically (and stop reading here if you don't want to have the not-ending spoilt), almost everyone has a connection to a particular mental hospital. In order to understand what drives the Veals character, readers are treated to an excruciating crash course in financial instruments. The exposition of the Koran and it's comparison with Gabriel's brother's delusions is skirting around a fatwah and clumsily done. In conclusion, there are great threads and potentially interesting characters but it's not elegantly woven and runs close to insulting reader intelligence. As for the bomber having a sugar low and deciding to swap his myriad virgins in the afterlife for an apostate on earth, does that mean untreated diabetes is a good thing?Yours sincerely.R. Tranter

  • Will
    2018-12-08 02:23

    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 driver’s ex-boyfriend’s full name, what he did with her 12 or more years ago, what her brother thought of him (the ex), and why there were no more relationships in her life up till now, but the actual moves she made in the virtual reality game that was her substitute for real life. Or a detailed description of the methods the repulsive financier used to acquire his ill-gotten bloated income along with his full email address and partial contents of his website; not just the name of the invented game-show program that the disaffected Islamist teenager from a secular family watched in his bedroom,but including the actual script from the stupid show. It’s the sort of stuff you really, really want to skip over, but can’t in case you miss some detail that is actually relevant to the developing plot, such as it is.The lives of all these characters intertwine in a way that should lead to a final climactic blowout ... after all, each is just a stereotype and seems to represent a character in a sort of Morality play that is Faulks’s view of what life in London is like today (or rather, four years ago when the financial crash and bombings were hot). But, not to give anything away, the end is quite an anticlimax, and in fact I was rather expecting a disaster of some sort - shouldn't they have all been crushed under the tube train, or been poisoned at the dinner party, or at the least, exposed for the frauds that Faulks clearly thinks they are?This is a bit sad really, because Faulks is obviously a widely-read and intelligent person. But ... [memo to authors that sadly will never be read], you do the extensive research on financial transactions, the legal system, Islam, the London Underground, or whatever, to give your novel’s characters and actions more credibility – not to deliver bleedin' lectures on those subjects! I gave it 2* but Goodreads really needs two levels of dislike: it was barely OK and he could have done much, much better, but it was not truly awful.

  • Ian Mapp
    2018-11-21 03:49

    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 making asian manufacturer up for a gong and some of their children. All the characters are inter-related somehow and a common theme is their use of technology and litereature. There is a quite a wicked sense of humour here and modern social norms are perverted in names - facebook become Yourplace and so on. There is also a common bicycle rider with no lights who keeps nearly knocking people over - is this boris johnson?The book did exceptionally well to carry over the format for 380 dense pages - always amusing, interesting and enlightening. Setup a little like a thrilller and you wanted to know where the bombers were going with their story and how it was going to impact the other the book pointed out - there are other threats to world safety than islamic terrorists.See that it had very mixed reviews, but personnaly I have enjoyed all his works - and the modern setting and London being a major character means that I enjoyed it as much as any of his others.

  • Hellion
    2018-11-19 06:23

    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 lives but the story just fizzled out to nothing. To me it felt as though Faulkes had written a rough draft of a story for home work, hadn't finished it and then handed it in because he couldn't be bothered to do it properly. Although nowhere near as good writers John Grisham or even Jeffrey Archer would have made a much more thrilling story with the same material.Like other readers I hated the use of made up names for characters and organisations - to me they demonstrated that Faulkes was writing about a culture he didn't really understand - a bit like your Grandad trying to talk like a teenager.If you want to read a good review of the book, well you only need to read Faulkes own review of Sedgely's book by Tranter... that about sums it up.Life is short - don't waste precious hours on this book, there are better out there.

  • Hanneke
    2018-11-20 04:34

    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 reviewer who even writes anonymus reviews next to his regular newspaper reviews to enjoy that final kill!Especially, the behaviour and thoughts of the hedge fund manager were very enlightening to me and I think that Faulks obviously knows that shadow world of the ultimate financial psychopats very well, those hedge fund managers and bankers who will eat up people's life long savings at a mouse click. Fascinating and very educational to be presented with such a person who views life as a poker game and who does not even consider the impact of his actions as people are merely an abstraction in his games. It is illustrated perhaps best by the judgement of the wife of the hedge fund manager, a very unhappy but very rich person, as she deliberates on her husband's world: "It followed, Vanessa thought, that people who could flourish here must themselves be, in some profound and personal way, detached. They could have no qualms about the effects of what they did; no cares for collateral impact - although, to do them justice, they did take precautions to minimise the possibility of any contact with reality; indeed the joy of the new products was exactly their magical self-sufficiency, the way they appeared to eliminate the risk of any final reckoning. However, it remained necessary for these people to have a very limited sense of 'the other'; a kind of functional autism was the ideal state of mind." Here's another: "They do it, said Simon Wetherby, because they're bankers. No, said Veals, pushing him into the overheated corridor, they do it because they're a bunch of cunts."Well, it is obvious that I liked the book. I can only recommend it, but perhaps it's not everyone's cup of tea.

  • Alistair
    2018-11-23 22:46

    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 attempts to bring them to life a hedge fund manager- tick . a would be terrorist-tick . a foreign footballer with a WAG - tick . a immigrant done good who venerates english life -tick . disaffected son of megawealthy money man on drugs-tick . a north london lady that lunches -tick . a politician on the make -tick . a bit of reality TV - tick. there are a few more types thrown into the mix and all the characters are brought together at , guess what, yes a dinner party . what an original idea .none of the characters come to life . The main one the hedge fund manager with the druggie son and i forgot to mention his alchoholic lonely wife is obviously the creation of a researcher and faulks seems to have had a lot of aid from reseachers to get the financial bits realistic but he is straight from central casting .I expect Sebastian Falks to be writing a Daily Mail column soon batting on about " what is wrong with England today " a truly appalling read = minus umpteen stars

  • Sammie
    2018-11-26 06:29

    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 words didn't seem to make any sort of music, they just told you the facts, like a manual; but she didn't like to give up on books once she'd started...". Most of the book felt like a brain dump of the character's past choices and actions. As for the blurb's assertion that each caracter will be "forced ... to confront the true nature of the world they inhabit", I felt this was only succesfully achieved for one of the seven - a student 'led astray' by Islamic theory. I would have happily read a book with him as the central character and gotten a deeper sense of his life and development, rather than the snap-shot view this book gives. The rest of the characters I'll forget very quickly. Sebastian Faulks has written some great novels. This is not one of them.

  • Matt
    2018-12-01 03:32

    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 father found his fortune as a pickle magnate. Feeling isolated from society, Hassan found solace in the Koran before gradually being enticed towards the dark world of religious extremism. His gradually explored path towards radicalisation felt authentic and well researched, and he cuts a sympathetic figure despite his status as a would-be terrorist.Another strong point is Gabriel Northwood, a young lawyer struggling to find work and spending too much time dwelling on the lost love of his life. One of his few cases finds his path crossing with Jenny Fortune, a Tube driver who is increasingly substituting her dull and luckless real life for an addiction to online gaming. The inevitable connection between the melancholic Gabriel and the closed-off but vulnerable Jenny is somewhat predictable but nevertheless sweetly enjoyable. A side effect of this seven-by-seven approach however is that it really is only as good as the sum of its parts, and each section needs to stand up on its own for the novel to hang together properly. Unfortunately A Week in December falls someway short of this goal, and every finely written and interesting character seems to be balanced by a clumsily written and boring counterweight. Chief perpetrator is John Veals, an unscrupulous hedge fund manager whose grotesque wealth is matched only by his selfishness. He values the acquisition of money above all things in life, and is clearly meant to symbolise the much-hated financial moguls behind the economic crisis of recent years.His real purpose though is clearly to display how much research Faulks put into the complicated world of financial trading, and I grew to dread his sections and the seemingly endless explanation of what exactly a hedge fund manager is and why we should hate their ilk. Veals is purposefully written to be both dull and unlikeable, but his narrative lacks any kind of petard-hoist to actually make this avaricious wretch bearable. Another character who quickly becomes a narrative blight is bitter hack reviewer R Tranter. A failed novelist, Tranter has taken to compensating by penning scathing reviews in an attempt to crush the spirit of authors with better luck. There is little to recommend the spiteful and mean-spirited little man, though unlike Veals he does at least undergo some form of character progression. He unfortunately also happens to be a straw-man of the highest order, which speaks rather poorly of Faulks himself.Finishing off the seven group of seven, along with the good and the bad are the… meh. Polish footballer Tadeusz “Spike” Borowski seems to have been brought along only to shore up the numbers and does nothing of consequence, while John Veals’ teenage son Finn exists mostly to assist a public service announcement about cannabis and the downward spiral of reality TV.A number of minor plot threads meanwhile, such as Jenny’s online stalker and Gabriel’s mentally disturbed brother, seem to fizzle out – presumably to make room for more financial babbling on the part of John Veals.Fortunately Faulks also manages to deliver some rather better delivered pieces of social commentary, including wry jabs at the occasional hypocrisy of the literary world and the increasingly desperate depths plumbed by reality TV.A Week in December has much to recommend it, telling its share of interesting tales and making many well-placed observations on our modern lives. Regrettably every well-crafted character and salient point has an ungainly and disappointing equivalent that stops the novel from achieving more than a semblance to the Dickensian pedigree it has been labelled w

  • Melanie Peake
    2018-12-13 04:22

    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 as dammit to the present day!), then portraying it in terms of a dystopian future will sit awkwardly! The author's disclaimer at the end of the book that "...the characters in this book, and their actions, are invented;any similarity between any of them and any real person, living or dead, is coincidental", is either a joke, or else meaningless! "Evelina Belle"!!! "Girls From Behind!" Some of these alternative names are just embarassing. Faulks is very comfortable with what he knows well, but is obviously out of his comfort zone, and scornful, when describing certain aspects of modern life, from the point of view of communities, and strata of society he would not ordinarily mix with. (I might be presuming here, but the clumsiness of his writing suggests otherwise.)The book could have been subtitled "Look How Much Research I've Done", and boy, does he not want to waste any of that information!I seem to have judged it quite harshly, but actually, I did enjoy it, despite the feeling that I was being repeatedly hit over the head with a Gladiators-style pugil-stick, with the words "MODERN LIFE IS JUST AWFUL, AND TERRIBLY BAD FOR YOU" emblazoned on it. (!). ;)

  • Zack Rock
    2018-12-07 02:46

    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 and lessons are presented to the reader as clearly as though the characters are saying them out loud. This is because Faulks employs a clever literary device where the characters say the themes and lessons out loud. A sly Faulks indeed!To be fair, I may have read the wrong book. With its multiple, plodding story arcs--woven together with the literary dexterousness of a kitten in a basket of yarn--I'm pretty sure the book I read was called An Interminable Amount of Time in December.My favorite part was the punchline of a scene, wherein a deserving author loses a prestigious book award to, get this, a picture book! OMG, can you imagine?! Interesting choice, taking a dig at kid's literature, considering Faulks own paper-thin characters make Flat Stanley look like Fat Albert.All kidding aside: this was a relentlessly lousy book.

  • Paul
    2018-11-24 04:23

    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 obtained the strongest skunk that he can, and the footballer is finding his feet in this new city. The lawyer and the tube driver are beginning a relationship, and the student is sourcing the materials for a bomb.As the tension builds and the lives of these seven Londoners become more closely intertwined, the student sets off to make his ultimate sacrifice.Cleverly plotted, Faulks has written these characters with many flaws. Some of them you end up liking, other detesting, but not the one you may think. Has a nice twist at the end. Overall 3.5 stars as it does feel a little overwritten and careful editing would have made a tighter story. Otherwise good.

  • Andrew Smith
    2018-11-19 04:45

    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 wonderful 21st-century novel. Locales range from the distant no-man's-land of Dayton Green (neither central nor suburban), with its "trim houses with their bow windows ... some were in terraces, some in pairs," to the elite streets of Holland Park with houses so large that family members rattle around without every running into each other, too busy getting drunk, or taking drugs, or bent obsessively over glowing computer screens. It displays a huge talent that Faulks, best known for historic novels set in the early 20th Century, is able to breath life into such typical present-day characters, from the self-made Pakistani business man and his extremist would-be terrorist son to the train driver who spends all her free time in the fantasy digital world of the computer game, Parallex, to the grasping stock trader whose fabulously wealthy wife leads an empty shell of a life and whose son is on a path to drugged-out destruction. If I have one quibble about "A Day in December" it's Faulks's almost obsessive need to try and explain the mechanism of dirty trading by the greedy broker. It's clear that the author has done his research (almost too obvious) but he nevertheless still doesn't quite manage to adequately describe the incredibly complicated stock market dealings. I found it best after a few pages to not even try to understand the details, suffice to say the man is up to dirty tricks that stand to net him millions of pounds. As the book proceeds the tension is cranked up, the disparate characters coalesce, and at the end one comes away with a pleasantly satisfying sensation that not only has one read a damn good yarn but that one is totally plugged in to a part of contemporary London life, dispiriting as it can be.

  • Lorenzo Berardi
    2018-12-07 01:25

    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 'Capital' by John Lanchester which I skipped countless times when raiding charity shops and such.And yet, I bought this one. Why on Earth? Why?My goodness, this book is so terrible.It does look like Sebastian Faulks attended a cheap course on British bestseller cocktail chemistry, as shown:- 20% of White Teeth Martini by Zadie Smith;- 35% of The Infomation Soda by Martin Amis;- 30% of Ian McEwan's Londoner Absynth;- 10% of David Mitchell's Multicharactered Liquor;Plus, an olive imbibed in the Thames (the remaining 5%).Unfortunately, the taste of this inky concoct is rather dreadful. And it does leave an unpleasant aftertaste too.What would you expect from an author who - when thinking about a name for a completely unnecessary character of a Polish footballer - ended up with Tadeusz Borowski?Taduesz 'Spike' Borowski, to be precise.I mean, dear Sebastian Faulks, are you an idiot not knowing who the actual Tadeusz Borowski was or shall I take this choice as a sort of clumsy joke or - even worse - as a literary anti-tribute?For Tadeusz 'Spike' Borowski speaks in broken English.Bad. Bad. Bad.Just bad. Anyways, now I can see how 'A Week in December' is included in the 'Abandoned Books' list on Goodreads. Which doesn't surprise me a bit: after a few sips I've also left my cocktail untouched.Did I say that this novel is bad?Avoid it at all costs.

  • Erin
    2018-11-30 04:23

    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 self is that he likes Russian beauties and never wears the same shirt twice. He is not a human character, unlike Hassan, Shahla, Jenni and Gabriel - the characters that, if given more time on the page, would have made this book compelling.If the book was supposed to be a satire, it failed for me. For one, Veals was never shown to be ridiculous, he was just self-absorbed and, worse, boring. The book reviewer character had it right: "It was worse, far worse, than he had dared to hope".

  • James
    2018-12-10 22:40

    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 two-dimensional MP, Lance. The caricature immigrant lime-pickle magnate, so poorly educated that he struggles to read, which in turn causes him to obsess that everybody he views as his better sits around all the time discussing books he hasn't read. Only Jenny the train driver and Gabriel the failing barrister seem genuinely likeable, and even they somehow seem to lack any real depth of character.That said, unlikeable though most of the characters are, none of them are truly dislikeable. Even Veals and RT, who are probably the least likeable, somehow seem to engender pity more than disgust or distaste. Neither of them really seem to engage in their vices with enough real vigour to cause any real dislike in the reader. And, I think that's the major problem with this book. The characters are too two-dimensional, too forgettable, too shallow. There is, of course, no real plot to speak of (this isn't genre fiction after all), instead the characters all move around each other, seemingly driven by coincidence only. They visit the same places as each other, interact with the same products and companies, yet rarely actually meet or have any meaningful interactions. Maybe that's the point of the novel though, the characters are drifting through their lives unaware of the coincidence, the brushes with excitement and change that they miss.The novel itself is set over a seven day period, with each chapter dedicated to a single day. The week climaxes for each character differently -- a dinner party being the main shared experience that many of the characters move towards. For others it's a new relationship, a self-realisation, or a religious epiphany. You follow each of the main characters in their journey through this week. About half-way through the novel you start to get a suggestion that they may be some big climax at the end, some life changing experience. The repeated occurrence of the mystery cyclist provide a strong sense of a thriller. Yet pretty soon it dawns on you that isn't going to happen. The cyclist is another example of the mundane appearing connected to us, the reader, because we see the whole picture. To each character their lives are more solitary and unconnected.In spite of the things that I didn't really get about the novel, and the things that annoyed me (the obviously made up company and product names for a start), Faulks seems to have pulled together a novel that I still thoroughly enjoyed reading. At no point was it a struggle or a chore, it just left me at the end wondering quite what it was all about, and suspecting that I'll forget it all pretty soon...

  • Rima BH
    2018-11-23 00:23

    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.

  • Deb Victoroff
    2018-11-25 03:31

    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 so many people in a book that were so well developed with a minimum of description (A drug-addled, video-game obsessed teenager, a greedy hedge fund operator, a fledgling terrorist, a bitter book writer, a subway operator, an institutionalized schizophrenic and his caring brother, a soccer player!), and there is sweet romance, taut suspense, as well as a brilliant (in my mind) description of the recent financial crisis.The book is described by one reviewer as "Dickensian" - and I love Charles Dickens so I was hopeful and yes, on a certain level I agree. (It is also like the writings of Tom Wolfe - if you liked "Bonfire of the Vanities you will love this). It is similar to Dickens in that each character seems like someone you know, or worked with, or read about, or might know in the future as a human who relates to other humans. But it's very contemporary. I am in a hurry, otherwise I would wax more eloquent: but I have to say to the author and to potential readers, that this is a wonderful book, beautifully written, one of those books you can't wait to get back to when you put it down and one that you should read with a pen to make notations in the margins ("loved this!") or to underline beautiful descriptions (here's a description of the primal "rating" we do of others: "In Sophie's mind there was a... league...from which people were... promoted. Money... played a part. Next came good looks, notably appearing younger than your age.") It goes on and it's clever and honest and very funny.Now that I know the name Sebastian Faulk, I will look for his other books with happy anticipation.

  • Huw Rhys
    2018-12-07 02:29

    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 stories which magically all come together under a common thread at the denouement. No, all of these formats have been done before - Faulks gives us something completely different.We are introduced to lots of various characters - but only get to know them superficially. They come, and just as we're about to get to know them, they disappear. Interestingly, I suspect there's a novel to be written about most of them - but I digress.... An apparently monstrous financial scam is described to us in great detail - and I suspect that unless we've worked in very high finance, it means diddley squat to the majority of us. It all leaves us a little confused.It's all a lot like real life- we get to know bits about people, and we hear dumbed down versions of the high mechanics of our over engineered society, without every really understanding any of it.All a teeny bit bleak in so many ways - which is why this book has disappointed, frustrated and depressed so many people who read it. But once you take the standpoint that this was indeed the author's objective - it all makes sense. I loved it.

  • Glenys
    2018-11-24 01:46

    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 creates havoc for Government and pain for ordinary taxpayers. The poor get poorer and Veals makes billions. I found the details of hedge-fund practices hard to grasp yet strangely fascinating -- a glimpse into an alien world that has a huge impact on society. The other characters -- attractive or unlikeable -- are equally well drawn. It's at once funny, chilling, thought-provoking and moving. Yet despite the satire, Faulks shows empathy for his characters and demonstrates the possibility of redemption, with one exception.

  • Nick Davies
    2018-12-14 04:49

    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, and Faulks also makes a number of intelligent and thought-provoking points about modern life (I found myself sympathetic with the motivations of almost all the characters at times, even those usually painted as evil or corrupt) without getting preachy, and though quite dense and slow a read at times, I certainly was not bored. However, it fell slightly short of a five star book for me because of the plot - it ambled along in various connected strands, and seemed to be building to one of a number of possible dramatic conclusions. Though part of me was glad that the obvious and heavily suggested ending didn't happen, I did feel that the lack of any real 'big ending' after all that build-up was anticlimactic.

  • Lesley
    2018-11-27 22:28

    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 particularly gripping and shocking. The ending was far from satisfactory. I think if the odious John Veals had been swallowed up by Allah or poisoned by his son's genetically modified drugs, been blown up or even faced prison time; as unrealistic as this would have been, I would have gone to bed tonight a happier and more satisfied reader. Not since Svengali has a fictional character sickened me so. The other characters are all man-made gods or pawns too, in their own way. Very few of them actually likeable, though some of them sympathetic. The whole novel leaves me with an uncomfortable hopelessness, which all things considered I have to say quite liked, even in spite of the monstrous John Veal, there's a realism to it; though I still want to play god myself and tie Veal to a pyre! I suspect this was Faulks's intention: to create self-appointed Judges in his readers.I perhaps would have given it more stars but I was bored through a lot of the descriptions. I understood the reference to football as a religion, but I skipped all those pages, of which there were too many! That said, I'd recommend it, and urge you to push on through it.

  • F.R.
    2018-11-28 04:43

    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 suicide bomber, amongst others. Unfortunately, in the early sections, I wasn’t convinced by a great many of these characters. They mostly seemed somewhat flat and un-lifelike, as if the author knew what he wanted them to represent but hadn’t grasped who they really were. For me, the only two characters who truly leapt out were Hedge Fund Manager John Veals, and bitter literary man R. Tranter. Now both of these are white men of a certain age – as is Sebastian Faulks – and it may be that they came to life easier because he was on a surer footing when creating them. To be fair, as the book continues, the other characters do start to grow so it seems like they have their own existence, but it takes a while to get there.I was also not particularly convinced by the stabs at satire. In ‘A Week in December’, this largely involves changing something real into something slightly different, but with a sillier name. So that ‘Big Brother’ becomes a show called ‘It’s Madness’ which has people actually diagnosed with mental problems locked together in a house; MySpace (or is it Facebook?) becomes a website called YourPlace; there’s a Damien Hirst-esque artist who’s made a cow out of fifty pounds notes; while literary awards are handed out by high-street chains like ‘Pizza Palace’. Even Liverpool FC’s former striker Robbie Fowler seems to make an appearance, as IQ challenged striker Gary Fowler. But oftentimes these jokes are made and then lie inert on the page, doing nothing but waiting to be made again. These ideas don’t develop or go anywhere. (Curiously, despite there being a different Leader of the Opposition in December 2007, Gordon Brown still appears to be Prime Minister, while John Prescott is a former Deputy Prime Minister. Even Prince Charles, who makes a brief cameo, is the same). It ends up as satire which has a lot more snarl than it does bite.With so many different plot strands, there’s a high risk that some will fail – but unfortunately Faulks has more than his fair share. There’s briefly an angry teacher in South London, whose plot goes nowhere and does nothing; while more damagingly, given the amount of space it takes up, the suicide bomber plot fizzles out in a most unsatisfactory manner. Indeed, the book’s ending is one of the least successful parts of it. A much mooted dinner party which brings together a lot of the characters we’ve met (and some we haven’t), but fails to resolve anything. Even the moment of confrontation it produces seems to have little consequence. (And really, after what had happened in her life earlier that day, would Mrs Veals really be in the mood to attend?) As such, a book which began flat, ends with a sighed whimper.There are things I like about this novel. Throughout there are well written passages and some sharp descriptions and dialogue (although, I find it hard to believe that any real person would say “the kind of thing they sell in their most famous high-street family stationer” when they clearly mean W.H. Smiths.) However, there are a lot more disappointments than successes between these covers. In an ideal world Faulks would have focused on either Veals or Tranter, and placed him at the very centre of a book. As it is, there’s a lot of mud to get through to reach the gold.

  • Kiera Healy
    2018-12-12 05:23

    Perhaps I shouldn't have read this book: I don't think I'm in the target audience. The whole thing has the sneering air of an in-joke, as though it should only have been circulated among Faulks' friends, who would presumably bray with laughter at what strikes me as tedious, poorly-done satire. Reading it feels like watching a bad film comedy with someone who keeps elbowing you in the side to tell you that this is a funny bit.This novel is set in modern-day London, and follows the lives of a group of loosely connected people from various backgrounds and classes (the latter is a bit of a stretch - there is a Tube driver, but everyone else is extremely wealthy and/or well-educated). I say "loosely connected", but the plot contrives for there to be ludicrous coincidences forcing their lives together over and over. Faulks has invented his own brands and celebrities (or, rather, he has renamed existing brands and celebrities, to humourless effect), but there are only about three of each, so we hear them used in about every chapter - and the effect is always cringemaking. The worst is probably "YourPlace", his social network in which participants "jab" each other. I think I have developed a lifelong tic from twitching every time YourPlace is mentioned. Ugh.Faulks attempts to cover all the issues of the day in his novel, so we get an unscrupulous hedge fund manager masterminding the financial crisis, a radical young Muslim planning to become a suicide bomber, a Second Life parody, and a reality TV show in which mentally ill contestants share the "Barking Bungalow". There is nothing subtle about this novel, and nothing clever, either. There were times when Faulks all but shone a LAUGH NOW THIS IS A REALLY SARDONIC TAKE ON MODERN LIFE light at me, but the only time I smiled was when I finally finished the book.Sometimes the numerous coincidences look like they may propel the plot forward: for example, the group of suicide bombers encode a message to each other in an online pornographic image of Olya, a Russian model. We later discover that the financial villain is obsessed with Olya, and looks at her pictures everyday, and then she herself appears as the girlfriend of a painfully-portrayed Polish footballer, who speaks in the least realistic broken English I've seen in a long time (a big peeve of mine, as a language teacher!). We think that Olya cropping up so many times must be leading to something...but of course it isn't, it's just that in Faulks' London there are only twenty-five people, so of course they all interact.I don't know what's worse, though, the plot or the writing. Oh god, the writing. Every scene in this novel features tedious backstory - and I mean Every. Single. Scene. In the final pages, a marginal character whose point of view we had rarely encountered suddenly started thinking about her irrelevant days as a schoolgirl. "I DON'T CARE! JUST TELL THE FUCKING STORY! HOW ABOUT SOME PLOT?!" I shouted at my kindle, much to the bemusement of my fellow commuters.In conclusion: this book is terrible. Sadly I only have an electronic copy, so I can't burn it. Mr Faulks, please stick to WWI France. Please.

  • Jules
    2018-12-13 01:30

    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, a female tube driver and a barrister to name a few) and ultimately he demonstrates that few are very happy with the cards that life has given them. Faulks also presents a view that life is tough in the modern world and questions, through satire, how we can derive happiness. It is a question he somehow leaves us hanging with. The back plot in the book explains how terrorism is another aspect of the modern world and city life and the makings of a terrorist plot build up steadily throughout the book. Personally, I loved to read Faulks’ subtle satire and intelligent thinking throughout. As an ex-London resident who has now escaped the rat-race, I warm to this book totally. Faulks’ storytelling reminds me that a stressful, dog-eat-dog and exorbitant way of life still exists out there. I can empathise with many of the characters in the book and ultimately despair over the fact that there is no let-up to the corrupt capital web they find themselves living in. Great writing and imagery and a great introduction to Faulks. I gather that the tone and subject of his other works are very different and I look forward to reading more of his genius work.

  • Stephen Clynes
    2018-12-04 00:46

    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 moving between the seven central characters. This switching loses the focus of this novel. I did however like the depth of each character, with their extensive thoughts and life experiences. But the workings of the hedge fund manager and financial systems may be out of scope to the average reader. The contributions of the book-reviewer in this book were good and entertaining. Overall I had little empathy for the characters. A Week in December is not a thriller or a drama. It is a social study that does not shock or excite the reader. Sebastian's writing is clear and polished, with a lot of class. There is some satire that is mildly amusing.A Week in December does not describe current day urban life in Britain very well at all. That award should go to Cross Dressed to Kill by Andrew Lucas , a far, far better book about British society today. A Week in December was written in 2009 and has 390 pages. This novel is a disappointment, I think it is poor and fails as a book. I shall vote it only two stars on Good Reads as I do not think other people should bother to buy a copy.

  • Pamela
    2018-12-06 00:21

    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 life to the satirist’s thumbscrews, but whereas Trollope creates a complex, rounded, lived in view of the society he skewers, Faulks presents us with dyspeptic, attitude laden snapshots of his characters and their antics. These include a venal hedge-fund manager, John Veals, who allows Faulks to present his thesis (ie. lecture his reader) on the mechanics of the 2008 financial meltdown, and the excruciatingly malicious literary critic Ralph Tranter. Tranter’s personality and story are so over-the-top, and given so much space, that I wonder if the entire novel was simply an excuse for exacting revenge on a personal nemesis.And the ending...well, it just kind, fizzles...out.

  • Ebaa Momani
    2018-12-11 02:28

    In general, this book was interesting. It touches on themes based on issues we face in our everyday lives. How some rich people build their wealth on the shoulders of others was an amazing theme. It was also entertaining as it kept me hooked to know more about the characters. However, most were not understood and I was a bit perplexed by them. For example, Jenny seemed to be more of an introvert at first, but later I find her quite socially intelligent in the way she deals with Gabriel. Also, the extraordinary fast change in Hassan believes were not at all convincing. In additions, I notice that Hassan is a bright guy with smart questions sometimes, and a stupid submissive one at other times.One thing that also kept me off liking this novel is the manipulation of facts. According to the Islamic teachings, For instance, the ends do not justify the means. Moreover, women in Iran do not wear a Sari!!! Western Iranian women like Nasim would go for a modern western style.Overall, the writer’s style was engaging if it wasn't for the changes made of some pure general facts.

  • Dorothy
    2018-12-05 02:36

    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 himself...(sound familiar?). Another character is the young Muslimson of a successful industrialist who joins a militant fundamentalist sect and becomes embroiled in a terrorist plot. As a commentary on life as we read it in the headlines, it is certainly very topical and extremely well written.

  • Natalie Foubister
    2018-12-15 22:34

    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 unflinching realism allows us to see the characters warts and all and because of this i found myself empathising with two of the most 'unlikeable'- John Veals and Hassan. This type of writing not only delivers satire and storyline and characters but opens your eyes to the workings of our society and makes you question your own beliefs, life, relationships and mortality. a must read!!

  • Joanne
    2018-12-16 22:48

    I gave up on this book in 2013 and didn't finish it. The first time round I found it tedious, slow, too many characters, hardly any I cared about. I was disappointed because I love Sebastian Faulks - he's one of my all-time favourite authors. I tried it again recently and I enjoyed it. This time I read it in a few days and I was riveted (apart from the detailed economic explanations, but that's just me being lazy). I loved the way SF connected all the characters in one way or another, and how he brought it to conclusion. The only thing I didn't understand, and I went back through the book checking, was the appearance of the bike rider who narrowly missed most of the characters at some point. It's not my favourite Sebastian Faulks, but it was worth reading.So there you go. Some books just depend on the frame of mind you're in at the time, as to whether they reach you or not.