Book Review: Capital by John Lanchester

Capital by John Lanchester
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publisher:  W.W. Norton Company

Summary:  Celebrated novelist John Lanchester (author of The Debt to Pleasure) returns with an epic novel that captures the obsessions of our time. It’s 2008 and things are falling apart: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going under, and the residents of Pepys Road, London—a banker and his shopaholic wife, an old woman dying of a brain tumor and her graffiti-artist grandson, Pakistani shop owners and a shadowy refugee who works as the meter maid, the young soccer star from Senegal and his minder—are receiving anonymous postcards reading “We Want What You Have.” Who is behind it? What do they want? Epic in scope yet intimate, capturing the ordinary dramas of very different lives, this is a novel of love and suspicion, of financial collapse and terrorist threat, of property values going up and fortunes going down, and of a city at a moment of extraordinary tension.

I wish I'd saved this one for summer vacation beachside. The tension was there until the collapse of 2008 and then I am surprised to say, nothing much dramatic happened. The first third of the book was quite engaging and held a lot of promise as we got to know the residents of Pepys Road. I truly felt impending doom and anxiety for them as time barreled on. I had anxiety just reading an accounting of the amount and cost of the life the Younts were leading. It was so extreme a case of affluenza that it wasn't just off-putting, it was suffocating. So when the entire story sort of meandered toward its conclusion, I was left feeling a but let down. Still, it was something of a page-turner and it held my interest quite keenly for about 75% of the way through. It's not the deeper social commentary I'd expected but it is interesting enough to want to finish. I'd recommend this one as good for vacation or time spent during air travel or waiting on jury duty day.

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