I just finished reading this book, after putting it off for a little while. I’ve talked about Sebastian Faulks before, and I absolutely adored Charlotte Gray, but I was hesitant to read something that wasn’t set in France, in the 1930’s or romantic. It feels weird to write that, but it wasn’t so much a thought-through thing, more a general assumption that I wouldn’t like it. I was doing some last minute Christmas shopping in Waterstones, and A Week in December was half price so I though ‘fuck it’.
It was a great read. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, and although the subject matter wasn’t something that I would usually pick for entertainment value, I just enjoy his writing so much that it didn’t matter. There are some really grim bits, particularly involving the character of John Veals, and there were times that I couldn’t believe that financial cunts like that actually exist. But they do. And they work in London. It was challenging to stay through it.
Yet at other times, I was swept away with the charm Faulks manages to inject into an everyday, mundane character, which makes me remember that my everyday, mundane life is charming itself, and that love and pleasure and inspiration aren’t always the stuff of fiction.
I’m going through a bit of a Sebastian Faulks phase, so just after this I went to the library (pee ess how good are libraries? I’d forgotten the bliss!) and got out The Girl at the Lion D’Or, which I’ll talk about another time, but there is a startling similarity in a section of both books. The man and the woman are talking about reading, and the woman says she loves to read because it’s a wonderful escape, but the man replies that he thinks it gives him a better grip on reality. Let’s him understand other people better. I think this is a really interesting idea, and for me, it’s both. I feel as though I am escaping the real world, and delving into another that is far removed from my own, but when I come back to my life, I feel as though I’ve had an experience that has sort of changed me.
It’s as though by reading, you don’t necessarily have to have experienced that same event yourself, because if the writing is good enough, you’ll have felt the emotions, through empathising (or not, as the case may be) with the characters. Then at the end, you do come out a little bit changed. A little bit richer.
It’s something to think about, at the very least.