Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Book review: A History of Capitalism According to the Jubilee Line - John O'Farrell (2013)

This is one of 12 books written in celebration of 150 years of London Underground - one book for each tube line. They're beautiful volumes, but I couldn't afford to buy all 12, so after some slightly painful deliberation I settled for this and the one dedicated to the Central Line.

And O'Farrell's Jubilee Line offering is a dream - its title perhaps seems rather dry, but what lies inside is anything but. However, I don't want to give away any more than the cover already does, as the realisation of what the plot entails is the book's chief source of delight. Suffice it to quote O'Farrell's own description of his idea for the book: 'Das Kapital meets the Poseidon Adventure somewhere in Zone 2'.

The second greatest source of delight lies in how the plot unfolds, and the third in the fact that the plot is so dependent, factually speaking, on the Jubilee Line itself. That the book manages to be both informative and highly entertaining - the holy grail of reading - only adds to the pleasure.

I probably shouldn't set expectations too high, so I'll offset my praise by saying that I found the sendup of the tube a little cliched, and the comedy a little too reliant on farce for my personal taste. However, that's your lot: I'll nitpick no further, as I enjoyed ...Jubilee Line so much. Purchase a ticket and get on board!

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