Saturday, 10 January 2015

Capital by John Lanchester

This novel is a snapshot of London around the time of the financial meltdown. The characters are all connected by the fact they live and work in Pepys Road, a Victorian residential street. Pepys Road has seen many social changes over the years, and in 2007 it was a desirable place to live, and you would have to be wealthy to buy there. Wealthy like Roger and Arabella, but Roger, a banker, desperately needs his bonus to be a big one to keep the the lifestyle they aspire to. When it isn't, things start to unravel. Petunia has lived in her house on Pepys Road all her life (apart from when she was evacuated during the War). Her daughter has moved out of London and Petunia's health is failing. Zbigniew is a builder from Poland who often works for residents of Pepys Road as they endlessly remodel their houses. He doesn't intend to remain in London, but to earn enough money to return to Poland and set up a business with his father. There are other characters, all of whose lives bring them into contact with Pepys Road.
Postcards start arriving at every house on the road, postcard which read 'We Want What You've Got'. At first residents assume that it is advertising from an estate agent, but the postcards keep coming and gradually become more sinister.
A snapshot of life in London is the best way to describe this book All the characters have their own stories going in, stories which don't have anything to do with the other characters. Lanchester uses them to examine the issues which many people are concerned about; the integrity of our financial systems, immigration, the fear of terrorism. He does it in a fantastically easy to read way. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more by him.


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