Capital

This is another whopper – in size, in scope, and in enjoyment. I really liked it. Capital by John Lanchester is definitely a book you can sink your teeth into, which makes it perfect for our long, cold, dark winter nights. Set in London, the story starts when all the inhabitants of Pepys Road, in a neighbourhood where property values have risen significantly over the years, receive a postcard in the mail with a photo of their house on the front and the words “we want what you’ve got” on the back.  As the story unfolds we learn all about the inhabitants tucked inside these homes. Varied as they all are, they have one thing in common – those postcards. And for the longest time, the postcards are on the backburner of the story as we become engrossed in the lives of Petunia Howe (the eldest resident on the street), Roger & Arabella Yount (the wealthiest), Rohinka & Ahmed Kamal (the Pakistani shop owners), and Freddy Kamo (the wonderboy of soccer recently arrived from Senegal) – to name just a few. Lanchester is a fantastic writer, he weaves a terrific story, and there’s lots of humour to make you chuckle (real dry, British wit!). I found the whole issue of the postcards became secondary because you become so engrossed in the lives of his characters. Fortunes are made and lost, dreams become nightmares, terminal illness strikes, and people may not be who they seem. It’s all fascinating. The chapters are short, often switching from character to character, and I like that. Even thought the book is 527 pages long it never got boring, and I never once wanted to give up. In fact, I didn’t want it to end.

By the way, I love it when British words entice me to check out Google… for example – I looked up “Oyster Cards” and “bugaboos” both unknown to me, to see what they were. Oyster cards are the electronic form of ticketing used on the London transit, and bugaboos are a brand of “pushchairs” (another British word) which are baby strollers.

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