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Deborah Montuori has commented on (2) products.

A Week in December
A Week in December

Deborah Montuori, April 16, 2010

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks.

I have a particular fascination with books that move among multiple points of view, interweaving the characters' mini-plots into one well-crafted whole. Overall, Sebastian Faulks's latest novel, A Week in December, successfully does just that. With tongue firmly in cheek, but also with a good amount of affection for all of his characters, Faulks gives us a well-rounded but satirical view of contemporary London society: the good, the bad, the ugly, the charming, and the misguided.

As others have mentioned, two potentially disaster-creating characters--hedge fund owner John Veals and would-be terrorist Hassan al-Rashid--take center stage, and while their stories are indeed fascinating, they push the others' (some of which I found much more interesting) into the background. If the novel has one fault, it may be that there are a few too many threads in the plot, and, as a result, some characters get shorted. I wanted to know more about Jenni Fortune, the book-loving tube conductor who is addicted to an online role-playing game, and her blooming romance with barrister Gabriel Northwood; I wanted to learn more about Gabriel's schizophrenic brother Adam; about the senior al-Rashids; about Spike, the Polish soccer player, and his girlfriend, Olya, who poses for online porn.

The novel also runs the reader through the full emotional gamut. Perhaps the most satisfying moments for me were those that reflect on books, reading, academia, and the world of competitive literary prizes. Faulks is at his satirical best here. As an educator, I was particularly amused by a small incident, the book reviewer R. Tantor being hired (undercover, of course) by a school to write comments on students' papers, a way of appeasing the parents who complained that the teachers themselves couldn't even spell. And I was highly amused by Trantor's observation that technology has managed to make ignorance not only acceptable but an asset. He's a cranky old bird who gets his comeuppance in the end, but his perceptions are often right on target.

A Week in December is sharp, entertaining, and complex. It's one of those rare books that I will likely read again one day because I have the feeling that I might have missed something.
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Ian McEwan: On Chesil Beach by Powell's Books and Douglas Biro

Deborah Montuori, August 2, 2007

From the reviews I had read, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this book, although I am a big fan of McEwan's work. How much can one really say about a failed wedding night? But On Chesil Beach is so much more than that. It's a study of a moment in time--not just Edward and Frances's wedding night, but the more innocent (or more restrictive, depending on your point of view) world of the 1960s. It's about love, expectations, dreams, what we feel and what we cannot say, and our penchant for lingering over what might have been. I can't say that this is my favorite McEwan novel, but I was surprised by how it kept me engaged--and by how long it stayed with me once I had finished reading.
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