The Novel That Grew Hornby Up

Relationships and how we have them; A seemingly dated topic for a novel.

 What about a book about a has been musician survived by his many girlfriends and their badly fathered offspring? The fan of his work who grabs his attention by posting a subjective review of his work on a fan site he frequents to remind himself of who he was?

The inside panel of this book reads like a drama with characters undergoing midlife crises and living by their passions, searching for meaning.

I’ll admit that I’m fairly familiar with Nick Hornby’s work. He did write High Fidelity  afterall. His work has always been cleverly rife with dry wit and realistic storylines I could relate to. Though, at times I’ve somewhat felt the melancholy undertones to the fate of his characters weighed down my overall impression.

Juliet, Naked is a book filled with challenges.

It dares you to read it because it’s certain it will win the reader over with its humanity. Rife with metaphors, it scrolls through the minds of two disenchanted souls connecting through modern technology. A very realistic courtship given today’s modern developments. The difference is the time period they come from, the generations they represent, the countries that raised them.

Mr. Hornby has always exuded loyalty to his native UK, placing his character all over England, and perhaps enabling them with familiarities only he would know. Juliet,Naked spans his storyline on more unfamiliar ground, placing his characters a considerable distance apart with one in an American suburb, and the other in a barely populated beach town in England. It explains the stagnance of their sensibilities, the small tours, and long departed edge smoothed to a subtle nub.

The female protagonist, Annie, is nearing 40, intelligent, thoughtful, and delightfully sarcastic. The male protagonist, the failed rock star Tucker Crow, is self deprecating, compassionate, though overwhelmed by a lack of purpose. He fathers one of his children well, which fulfills him in a way that keeps him afloat; something Annie lacks.

They are different in backgrounds and values, but essentially the span of their thoughts reach the same destination. Nearing middle-age, or skating across its platform, they nonetheless find each other, milling for purpose.

 Annie articulates her thoughts in metaphors:

 “The short visit of a middle-aged man and his young son shouldn’t be a gourmet pastry; it should be a store-bought egg-salad sandwich, a distracted bowl of cereal, an apple snatched from a fruit bowl when you didn’t have time to eat. She had somehow constructed a life so empty that she was in the middle of the defining narrative incident of the last ten years, and what did it consist of, really?

 They both seem to be reaching a point of resolve, the freedom in knowing that the events of their lives need little more than acceptance to be embraced. Until they reach it.

Annie:  “…she heard teachers and parents and teaching colleagues and friends. This was how England spoke, and she couldn’t listen to her anymore.”

 Or Tucker: “The truth about life was that nothing ever ended until you died, and even then you just left a whole bunch of unresolved narratives behind you. He’d somehow managed to retain the mental habits of a songwriter long after he’d stopped writing songs, and perhaps it was time to give them up.”

 Nick Hornby has always been a fine writer, who’s work I’ve looked out for, and words I’ve found insight from. This book, however, failed to resemble, but succeeded in representing growth. He writes from the perspective of both genders diving between them so smoothly, the pages drift past with the relatable content.

I cared about these characters because they spoke to personal fears of self fulfillment, aging, and all the common trials we face as human beings.

 That’s what this book is; human.

Mr. Hornby’s writing has grown infinitely. It’s an adult book with essential ideas. Characters so meaty and well developed they beg the reader to look within.

So, what’s the end result? Is there a happy ending? These are just two lives built around one story. I can assure you though, read it and you will find that no tunnel lacks in light. It makes for a heartwarming unforgettable journey.


Juliet, Naked is available on Amazon, in hardcover, and at a reasonable cover. To read the first few pages just click on the book! 

Note: Billie Holiday would relate to this narrative fo’ sho’.