Sunday, 20 January 2013


I received John Lanchester's Capital as part of a 'Mystery Book' scheme held for their cardholders just before Christmas.

The residents of Pepys Road, London - a banker and his shopaholic wife, an elderly woman dying of a brain tumour, the Pakistani family who run the local shop, the young football star from Senegal and his minder - all receive an anonymous postcard with a simple message: 
We Want What You Have.  Who is behind it? What do they want?

  As the mystery of the postcards deepens, the world around Pepys Road is turned upside down by the financial crash and all of its residents' lives change beyond recognition over the course of the next year.

When I started reading Capital, I loved it.  It was so easy to read and Lanchester introduced me to a variety of interesting characters inhabiting a wealthy London Street.  He also provided an element of mystery with the 'We Want What You Have' cards being posted through the residents doors. 

  Unfortunately, at about 200 pages in, I became less enthused about reading Capital, and it was a struggle to reach the end.  The problem with the book for me was that Lanchester couldn't stop adding POV's of minor characters.  Not only this, he never develops them into something more than a cliche.  I was disappointed with the revelation of who was posting the cards - that whole element of the plot could be erased and no one would notice - and I  wish that Lanchester had developed this plot line into something a bit more sinister.  In fact, I wish the whole book had been developed into something more thoughtful and original.

Perhaps with some tweaks Capital could have been great, as Lanchester certainly has a readable writing style, but as it stands, I don't think I would ever want to read it again.


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