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Other People's Money: A Novel Paperback – April 12, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
“A tale half comic and half cautionary--and all compelling--about the financial crisis. Witty, thoughtful, briskly paced and entertaining--a terrific novel about excess, hubris, class and the age-old (usually one-sided) tussle between art and commerce.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“With wit and keen observation, OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY is an entertaining, observant, and informative excursion into a distant world surprisingly close at hand. ” ―Booklist
About the Author
Justin Cartwright is the author of In Every Face I Meet, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Leading the Cheers, winner of the Whitbread; The Promise of Happiness, winner of the Hawthornden Prize; and White Lightning, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread. He was born in South Africa and now lives in London.
Top customer reviews
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Justin Cartwright lets you into the heads of his characters, all of whom are sympathetically drawn and believable, complete with normal human strengths and foibles. Without exception his characters are beautifully drawn, with just enough detail that you immediately know who and what they are. Even the ancillary characters, in just a few sentences, are instantly recognisable.
There is some lovely writing and clever asides that so neatly capture observations on contemporary society in a way that makes you wish you'd thought of them first. The chapter which takes place in the fusion restaurant is a particular example, but there are small jewels throughout the book.
Surprisingly for a book on the banking crisis, there are no baddies or grand reckoning, and I found myself rooting for all the principal characters as they work through their huge uncertainties.
If I have only one negative observation, it is that occasionally the author's own words project a little too blatantly into the inner thoughts of some of the main characters, but this is a small quibble.
By page three Sir Harry is alive--just barely--living in the Villa Tubal where ever-faithful employee, Estelle, in her seventies types up the letters Sir Harry dictates as best he can given his condition--he's suffered from a stroke. Since she has worked so long for Tubal and Company. Sir Harry's now-wife, in her twenties when she married him after his first wife committed suicide, is away. Why not! After all Sir Harry Trevelyan-Tubal is only one of a long line of fathers and sons who have headed this bank.
And, yes, son Julian Trevelyan-Tubal is the recipient of these letters, FedEx-ed daily, letters filled with "sage advice" about how to run the bank. But, of course, Julian has little need for such advice since he is very busy flying in the company jet transferring money from accounts in Lichtenstein to cover some of the many shady loans the huge bank has been making. I, like another reader who reviewed here, thought this was going to be a slam on the banks who have created the world-wide recession. But it isn't, at least not directly. But the satire is much more focused upon the people who made these decisions. Oh, yes, poor Julian suffers from migraines.
And then there is my favorite character, introduced first in chapter three: Artair MacCleod currently living in "an old lifeboat station." But not for long. MacCleod was once married to Fleur, a somewhat-actress and now the trophy wife of Sir Harry. And as part of that divorce settlement, actor-director-disillusioned and oh-so-nasty Artair has been granted a basics-only amount of money that keeps his small acting company going--they specialize in children's play productions. But Artair has bigger plans. But suddenly he discovers... Well, I won't tell.
The author is brilliant in his ability to convey point of view. If you like good British satire, this will not disappoint.