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Almost a British Balzac

Sebastian Faulks’s new novel is ambitious, entertaining and delightfully vicious in its assault on literary hacks. If only he could make us care just a little more

By Julian Evans   September 2009

A Week in December By Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson, £18.99)

The old-fashioned skill of writing novels seems in Sebastian Faulks’s case to have got more Greenean as he has got older: the sense, with each new book, of the writer boarding a moving train, on each occasion timing the jump with an improving carelessness, then settling into an available seat or strolling through the carriages, narrating the lives of the passengers and witnessing everything that occurs.

Why is this old-fashioned? Because it’s a skill that makes an explicit pact with the reader: the novelist, writing for private reasons, understands that…

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