Juliet, Naked

Finally finished meandering my way through Nick Hornby’s latest book, “Juliet, Naked”. I have read the last five of his books and attempted a sixth, and I think I might give up. Nick is known for being a witty voyeur really, commenting comically and often ironically about life and less than perfect main characters. I was lulled into a false faith with the first two books I read.

How to be Good is a story about a woman whose (slightly lacking, boring and selfish) husband goes through some sort of non-religious ‘conversion’ and becomes Mr Super Nice Guy of a guru nature, and sets out to ‘change the world’ a previously foreign concept to him. The story focuses more on her inability to allow him to change and be “good”. It is incredibly subtle and funny, and very believably written from a woman’s narrative.

About a Boy. The main character is a man who hasn’t grown up and borrows his neighbour’s 11 year old son to attend a solo parents group to meet women. Inevitably it’s a life-enhancing and maturing experience for him and translated very well into a Hugh Grant movie. Witty and clever.
But then

A long Way Down, about four people who meet on top of a well known suicide jumping spot. The story does have its redeeming features and Hornby has a surprising ability to deal with an incredibly taboo subject with sensitivity and humour. Not an easy task I imagine. I enjoyed it, but this book alone would not have me hunting bookstores for more.
Followed by

SLAM! A story from the perspective of a 14 year old skateboarder who gets a girl pregnant on his first unsatisfactory sexual experience and (just a reminder here that Hornby is a comic writer) his clumsy navigation through life from that point.
And Finally

Juliet, Naked which sounds much more exciting than it was. Juliet, Naked is the name of a music album, and explores talent without passion and passion without talent, and loss of youth and wasted time, useless fathers, narcissistic mothers, and much more. It has funny moments, but I would be hard pressed to give an accurate plot synopsis in less than 250 words so I will give up here. It would probably make a fairly reasonbale easy-to-watch Friday night DVD, but I usually want a little more from a book. I forged my way to the end of the book, as I hate not finishing books. It wasn't bad it was just a bit ho-hum. There are only two books I have stopped reading, one was a crap Barbara Taylor Bradford before I realised that she was not my kind of writer, and it was going to be detrimental to my intelligence to finish, and more recently Lady Chatterly’s Lover (sorry Mr Lawrence), which I do intend to finish. Saying that I intend to finish it makes me feel better anyway. And I don’t count books that I have read a few pages of and not continued, but I could probably name those too.

So two and a half out of five (nearly six), the ratio is not good. I must give Nick Hornby credit for choosing surprising story lines, and un-heroic characters, and I think I have talked myself into giving it one more go. Ok Mr Hornby I will read your next novel. Impress me.


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