Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Capital, a novel by John Lanchester

A novel rich in characters

Pepys Street, a fictional street in all-too-real-London, is not the wealthiest, nor the most attractive, nor the busiest street in the city.  In fact, it might well be overlooked by most Londoners.  But the people connected to it by residence or occupation or just happenstance find themselves tightly connected to Pepys Street and, in some surprising ways, to others. The story takes place between the halcyon days of 2007 and the disastrous post-Crash days of 2008.
Roger Yount and his wife Arabella are the most deliciously satirized characters.  Roger is a clueless member of the financial community, tall, handsome, bearing an easy ability to deal with clients. He is untroubled by the fact that he has no idea how his employer's financial systems operate. When first we meet him, Roger is wondering how large his bonus will be, and what he and wife Arabella will do with it.   Rogert is in for several surprises.  Arabella cares deeply, passionately about shopping and decorating and all of the domestic responsibilities she must handle -- with, of course, lot of help.
The cast of characters also includes an elderly woman whose Pepys House has been in her family all of her long life; an African refugee working illegally as a meter maid; a Moslem family who run a small shop; a Polish carpenter/painter/builder; a nanny, and others.  Its a tightly woven tapestry of many personalities.
There's a mild mystery here, too.  Someone has been taking photos of houses on Pepys Road and sending sinister messages to the occupants.  The search for the culprit will affect the futures of several of the people who live and work on the street.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Capital and recommend it highly.  I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.


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