This Bleeding City

Charlie Wales is a student at Edinburgh in the late Nineties. His life changes when he meets Henry, the son of a newspaper proprietor, and Véro, a beautiful, crazy French girl. But Charlie is a middle-class boy, and has to pay for his new, Gatsby-like existence.

Cue the City, where he finds himself working for a hedge fund and watching his friendships disintegrate. This is an experience shared by thousands, and Preston’s writing often falls into cliché. But the story comes into its own in an excellent scene on a stormy cross-Channel ferry, with Charlie and Henry on their way to watch the girl they love get married to someone else. That day also happens to be Black Friday. It is in recording the undoing of the City and the ravages of the first major crash in years that Preston shines.

This article first appeared in the 19 April 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The big choice