|Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis|
|Summary: Engaging hen-lit story (at one level) examines fame, self worth and cyberspace with Nick Hornby's characteristic crispness, humanity and humour.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: December 2009|
A clever, comic delight, pitch-perfect, astutely observed, particularly insightful, must-read. Crumbs. Whatever else is there to say about Nick Hornby's latest book that isn't already plastered on this newly-published paperback edition? I can only report that Juliet, Naked bowled me over with yet another Hornby strike.
I never feel that Nick Hornby has created the characters in his stories, rather that he has discovered and explored real people going about their tragi-comic lives. They're so importantly ordinary. As a writer, he seems able to slip inside any head. Long gone are the days when he was a bloke writing for other blokes. This book could be shelved with hen-lit, and that's not meant critically: he's a rare being, an empathic man with a nuts and bolts appreciation of how women tick.
The main character here is nice, responsible, quiet Annie, who has somehow settled for life in Gooleness, the north's answer to a question nobody asked. She is feeling pretty deflated as the story starts, having spent fifteen forgettable years running the town's inert museum and living with obsessive media lecturer, Duncan, neither of which seem nearly as worthwhile a long-term proposition as having a baby. In fact Duncan is so nerdy that his idea of a great holiday is to visit key sites in the life of Tucker Crowe, a reclusive, defunct rock star who has been the subject of twenty odd years of speculation by his tiny band of devotees.
Annie has an intimate appreciation of Tucker's seminal album, Juliet since Duncan is his most expert fan. So when Duncan is sent a pre-release copy of an early version, his startled response to Juliet, Naked on the geeky website is spectacularly OTT. Annie, on the other hand, sees the album's place as an unpolished draft and writes a dismissively critical reply to Duncan on line, which is much appreciated by Tucker.
Contrary to recent sightings, Tucker lives an obscure, impecunious life with his current wife and youngest child. There have been so many unsuccessful Crowe marriages that Tucker's not even quite sure if he ever actually married Cat. In short, the relationship has sunk to an irredeemable stagnancy.
When Tucker e-mails Annie, they slide into e-romance, inevitable in the intimacy of cyberspace. Tucker is only too aware that the hyped-up rock star legend of his fans is belied by his real place-in-the-world as a failure. He decides to visit Britain to swap virtuality for reality, but ends up in hospital with his ex-wives and kids ganging up on him as the world's worst husband and father. And so to bed.
I'd be surprised if anyone out there hasn't read some Nick Hornby already, so I need hardly add, he does redemption so well and, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Suggestions for further reading: Nick Hornby's crisp style is honed to sharpness in the recent filmscript, An Education, and well worth a look. We also like A Long Way Down and Slam even more than the earlier High Fidelity.
You can read more book reviews or buy Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby at Amazon.com.
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