A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks aims to be a state of the nation novel.
Set in London, the novel follows the stories of a number of different characters who are bound together by their connection to a dinner party being hosted by one of them. Some of the individual story lines are more interesting than others. The portrayal of, John Veals, the banker is one of the stronger elements and one where the author’s research genuinely adds to the telling of the tale. I also enjoyed the barrister character, Gabriel and his schizophrenic brother. Less appealing are the footballer and some of the others.
The trouble is that with so many different story lines in the same novel, you never really get to know as much as you might like to and, in the end, the individual stories don’t really gel as a whole. There is also the distraction of some allusions to the virtual world – Parralax for Second Life, for example – that somehow get in the way without really adding to the tale.
For me, this was a staccato and ultimately disappointing read. If you have never read Sebastian Faulks, I would not suggest starting with this novel but, because he is a writer capable of great works, like Birdsong, I would definitely recommend that you have him on your list. If, like me, you are a fan, then I do think it is worth giving A Week in December a go and I’d be interested to know what you make of it.
See also A Possible Life.