What better book to read whilst in London than Capital by John Lanchester? I know, I know, I could have chosen other iconic novels like White Teeth by Zadie Smith or Brick Lane by Monica Ali, but I went with Capital for two main reasons: the financial meltdown of 2008 and it was on my TBR list. It should also be noted that I was meant to read White Teeth while I was in London as well, but I ran out of time.
To start, everything I had heard about Capital was marvelous – and true. It is a gripping tale that weaves together a number of themes prominent in contemporary life in London. Inflating house prices and property values, racism, the treat of terrorism, Banksy, immigrants, yummy mummies, the list goes on and on. These themes are woven into the fine tapestry that is the quiet, residential street Pepys Road in South London. The story is told by the various people who inhabit this road: a meter maid, a construction worker, a banker and his wife, and aging widow and the family that keeps the shop at the end of the block.
What impressed me most about the book is how Lanchester captured a moment in history so perfectly. The story is set after the 7/7 bombings and during the financial meltdown of 2008. It reminded me of one of my favourite books, The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. It is also set in London and captures 1980s, Thatcher-ite Britain perfectly. Both novels are complex, but also plot driven.
Who would like this book? Although not an issue driven novel, Capital does weave in many contemporary issues into the narrative, thus it makes it a good choice for the socially and politically engaged. The stories of all the characters are completely believable, which may be why the novel is so shocking. This would make a great book club pick for a group who enjoys exploring issues.
Sounds like an interesting type of book. I thought I had heard of this book before and the cover was throwing me off but turned out I was thinking of another book, but can’t work out which one.
Capital has had several different covers. I wonder what book you were thinking of.
You have definitely piqued my interest with this one. And reminded me that I still haven’t read White Teeth and probably should…
I have to get to White Teeth sometime soon. It’s on my TBR list challenge. I’ll let you know what I think.
Yay, this is in the 746 and if you are comparing it to the wonderful A Line of Beauty then it must be good. Really looking forward to it.
It’s not as good as The Line of Beauty, which is one of my all time favorites, but it is reminiscent of it. Both have these broad themes and critiques of British society. I’ll be interested to see what you think.
I loved Capital. It was so — so— LONDON. It did touch on many social issues
You commented! I can’t believe it.
Pingback: March Round Up | 52 books or bust
I am looking forward to reading this. Great review 😀
Pingback: White Teeth b y Zadie Smith | 52 books or bust