“Very good account of the lives of several Londoners on the even of the financial crash in late 2007. Particularly damning of the roles of investment bankers and the results of growing social inequality. Some of the characters are too close to stereotypes and possibly a little one-dimensional, but...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“Passable page turner.”see full review » see other reviews »
“Passable page turner.”Daniel Edwards wrote this review Sunday, August 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I took a while to get into this but once the characters began to form was a really enjoyable read.”Keith Barraclough wrote this review Thursday, July 25, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Very good account of the lives of several Londoners on the even of the financial crash in late 2007. Particularly damning of the roles of investment bankers and the results of growing social inequality. Some of the characters are too close to stereotypes and possibly a little one-dimensional, but very readable overall. ”Andrew Gray wrote this review Sunday, June 23, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A gripping tale of seemingly unconnected events cascading into a mysterious convergence”Venky wrote this review Thursday, May 2, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Interesting characterisations, very detailed about the lives of the character. I felt a little alienated in places where job roles were described in over complex detail, which I felt was unnecessary.”Claire Blasi wrote this review Wednesday, March 27, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Simply superb... characters are so well developed, I know them personally. Plot threads are expertly brought together. Nothing is left to chance.”GCB wrote this review Monday, March 25, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A tale about a web of characters in modern day London. Paints a vivid picture of the city and keeps you guessing.”Peter Wiegand wrote this review Friday, May 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“clever”Sue Godders wrote this review Sunday, March 3, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Sebastian Faulk's novel set in contemporary London, is a true 'state of our times and this city' kind of fiction. The rich backdrop of real landmark events of the fall of big banks in the city, problems of disenchantment leading to homegrown terrorism and overpowering smell of financial sector in London is well used. The lives of characters as diverse as this city provide gripping storyline : a south asian pickle king who is to get an OBE; a bored, wealthy teenager who is experimenting with drugs; a failed novelist who writes scathing book reviews; inverted snobbery of rich, dinner party going crowd; escape from reality through playing virtual games by a (lady) tube driver; a well read but not greasy enough barrister who can not seem to make enough money through his profession and a young muslim who is a regular second generation immigrant who in turns experiments with socialism, local rowdy crowd to fit in, communism and eventually extreme form of islam in his search for self identity. The theme of the novel, never overbearing, but recurring through all characters is the disengagement with fellow humans and how everyone is removed from reality in their own way. Some technicalities thrown in around financial products dealt by the hedge fund manager John Veal (will he be universally hated by the readers?) may be a bit off-putting for some, but do not distract from us getting sucked into the world of these characters which seem never to meet and are all linked in their search of self and making sense of this world. A fitting ode to this great city, London. Recommended. ”Vands wrote this review Saturday, February 2, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I think I've come to the conclusion that I don't know what all the fuss is about re Sebastian Faulks. I've only read two of his books so far and both of them have left me feeling 'meh'.
This book is set in 2007 and follows the lives of a wide cast of intersecting characters over seven days. Mostly set in London & mostly revolving round the imminent banking crisis.
The characters are very sketchily drawn, one or two are more rounded, but there are just too many to give any sense of depth to any of them. I found one or two that I could warm too: Hassan and his family and friend Shahla, Jenni and her brother, Gabriel and his brother - I would have liked much more about them.
The Veals family, whilst distinctly unpleasant people, were reasonably detailed, as was all the wheeling and dealing behind hedge funds (I know a friend referred to it as 'Janet and John do hedge fund management' but as I had a very sketchy understanding of it, that didn't bother me too much). What I didn't like was his treatment of Islam or his veiled linking of religion to Schizophrenia. On the whole I didn't care if most of them lived or died or what was going to happen to them over the week - Hassan was the only reason I bothered reading to the end. He also hardly bothered to disguise the various financial institutions - all very obvious, even to me. Surprised he hasn't been taken to task about it. Oh and what was the point of the recurring bicycle with no lights? Can anyone explain that to me? Lastly, his TV program: It's Madness. He should leave that to Ben Elton, he does it far better.
The only sentence that stays with me and I feel is resonant with the point of the book and where we are today.
The hostess of 'the dinner party' is considering all her multi-million rich guests and realises:
"But apart from Farooq al-Rashid,.........none of them had engaged with anything that actually existed".
Sad inditement (me included) is that most folk aren't employed in actually producing anything anymore.
I still intend to read Birdsong as I believe it's supposed to be very good. Am going to check Mount TBR and see if I have any others of his awaiting my attention & then off load them - I think there's very little chance of me wanting to read them after this. (Just checked - I have a copy of On Green Dolphin Street too - anyone going to step up & tell me it's worth reading???)”