Monday, 21 November 2011

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
First published by Viking in 2009 (this edition by Penguin in 2010)

Description (from Goodreads)

Annie loves Duncan — or thinks she does. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn’t. Duncan really loves Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter who stopped making music ten years ago. Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life. 
In doing so, she initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker, and a connection is forged between two lonely people who are looking for more out of what they’ve got. Tucker’s been languishing (and he’s unnervingly aware of it), living in rural Pennsylvania with what he sees as his one hope for redemption amid a life of emotional and artistic ruin — his young son, Jackson. But then there’s also the new material he’s about to release to the world: an acoustic, stripped-down version of his greatest album,Juliet — entitled, Juliet, Naked
What happens when a washed-up musician looks for another chance? And miles away, a restless, childless woman looks for a change? Juliet, Naked is a powerfully engrossing, humblingly humorous novel about music, love, loneliness, and the struggle to live up to one’s promise.

My thoughts
Having already read two other Nick Hornby books this year (High Fidelity and Slam) and enjoying them both very much, I decided to read Juliet, Naked. Well, it was also because I was looking for a small book to travel with. But I was going to be reading it sometime, anyway, it just happened sooner rather than later!

Juliet, Naked felt rather different to High Fidelity and Slam, for some reason. In Juliet, Naked, we have Annie and Duncan,a couple who have been together for years and think they love each other. But Duncan also has this pathological "infatuation" with Tucker Crowe - a reclusive musician who has been out of the music scene for nigh in ten years -, that seems to always take precedence over Annie. At the beginning on the book, Annie and Duncan are actually on a Tucker Crowe pilgrimage; visiting all the places that had some significance to the songs from Crowe's disks.

Then, when they get back to England, Duncan gets sent a cd, which has yet to be released and is titled Juliet, Naked, as it features acoustic demos of all the songs on Tucker Crowe's last (and greatest) album. In a conflict of opinions, Annie and Duncan grow further apart and Annie starts a correspondence with Tucker, through a string of bizzare events! And that's where I am going to stop, because if I go on, I'll just summarise the whole book for you!

In Juliet, Naked, we have a variety of different characters. First, we have Annie. Annie is a lovely, if slightly timid (in the beginning) woman, who has become comfortable in the knowledge that she has someone there for her, despite the fact that that someone isn't really there for her. But she starts seeing things more clearly and realises that what she has with Duncan doesn't really mean anything and that she has - essentially - wasted her best years on him. Duncan was a complete and utter idiot. He had his head in cloud-cuckoo-land, was - at best - just passively interested in what Annie was doing and was a firm believer that she could not have an opinion about Tucker Crowe's music; only the best of them, those names Crewe-ologists, had the right (as well as the in-depth knowledge) to do such a thing. Tucker Crowe was another lovely character; it was obvious he had his issues (and was doing a pretty good job of avoiding them), but you couldn't really help but like him. And then there was Jackson! At times, I felt a little sorry for him, but he was such a cute little boy!

The focus of this book is how relationships work (or don't work). There are prime examples of what NOT to do to make a relationship work and other examples of what to do so as to say that you tried, but it just didn't work out in the end (or you have yet to see what will come of it). Nick Hornby has managed to create yet another memorable male character in the form of Duncan; though he will not stay in your mind for how adorable he may sound, but for how idiotic and blind he really is (and actually reaches the point of not recognising what he's lost even when he has lost it). It takes a lot of skill to do that.

Rating: 6/10


Author:
You can find out more about Nick Hornby and his books at the end of my review of High Fidelity.


Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challnge 2011, British Books Challenge 2011

5 comments:

  1. For some reason I haven't read anything by Nick Hornby. Relationship books are always interesting though, especially as you so if they get the male character right!

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  2. I hadn't read anything by him until earlier this year, either! But he really is a very good author! I loved his male protagonist in Slam! :)

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