Upon re-reading Sebastian Faulks’s A Week in December I found a playful quality to the book that I largely missed when I first opened it in 2009. True, there is so much prescience in his writing. The collective worship of characters like John Veals which led to the great downfall and crunch; pinstriped men whose arcane conjuration of abstractions played cups and dice with us all, makes Faulks’s book seem to be perched on the very edge of the ruin into which we have since tumbled. Veals’s son Finbar is a privileged pratt zoning into skunk. Then there is the strident voice of Hassan – the young Muslim, heir to a pickle fortune, stoked full with thoughts of glorious martyrdom.

These and other characters we know. We have seen them. And we applaud Faulks for giving them back to us.

However, for me it is the sniping aspect of the book that is most entertaining. The dinner parties with their lefty platitudes and Tory put-downs are captured so skillfully that you feel that Faulks has been to a thousand or more metropolitan suppers. The author seems to be playing the hokey cokey with such gatherings, such people as these. He enjoys the talk, but lampoons it all the same.

In A Week in December Faulks is as close to these people as is possible to be. The self centred, self referential, self perpetuating city is as open as a clam in Nigella’s salsa verde.

A Week in December is part of Cityread London – read about it here on our blog: https://www.thelondonmagazine.org/tlm-blog/cityread-london/


Steven O’Brien

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