With clever nods to Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and Tom Wolfe, Faulks combines a sharp eye for detail with an astute understanding of human nature to create a rich, human novel of contemporary manners. Though he provides a captivating account of London, the Los Angeles Times
mused that, with a few minor changes, the characters could have been the denizens of any major city, so pervasive are the dilemmas they face. Moreover, critics pointed out that some of Faulks's characters and subplots are "undercooked" (Washington Post
) and the glut of financial detail weighs down the narrative. However, it is a testament to Faulks's skill that, despite these missteps, A Week in December
is mostly a compelling and sympathetic critique of modern life.
In London, three weeks before Christmas 2007, the lives of several characters intersect and intercut each other. With savage accuracy, the story skewers (and explains) the banking industry and the subprime mortgage crisis while also touching on the evils of Islamic fundamentalism, the British school system, reality TV, role-playing computer games, and critics who delight in giving bad book reviews (a character perhaps added to ensure good book reviews?). Although the financial explanations are much appreciated, they do slow down the plot, as does the rather stereotypical exploration of why a Scottish-bred Muslim would become a fundamentalist terrorist. As in real life, a concept most of the characters have abandoned, Faulks’ best plotlines are those that involve relationships between people. --Marta Segal Block