Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby
I don’t know how he does it, but there’s something about a Nick Hornby book that so hooks me that I feel part of the story – I can always identify with some of the characters.
Juliet Naked is the story of a lost rock star, a completist fan and his partner. Annie and Duncan have reached that point in their lives where their shared love of the reclusive US rock star Tucker Crowe isn’t enough any longer. Duncan, one of the world’s foremost Croweologists is obsessed by the man, his music, his lyrics, his concerts; Annie’s interest is waning – she needs more than this from life – a baby is at the top of the list. Meanwhile Tucker had walked out of a tour some years ago, leaving the world of rock’n'roll to his fans. He has been living quietly since, raising a brood of alienated children all by different mothers. Ever the commitment-phobe, he is gradually realising that his latest relationship with the mother of his six year old kid Jackson won’t last either.
The release of the demo sessions from Crowe’s best album ‘Juliet’ as ‘Juliet, Naked’ that is the catalyst for change in all of their lives. Duncan raves about it, Annie hates it preferring the honed final version, and unusually for her she posts a review on the net and Tucker reads it and emails her. This schism is driving a wedge ever further between Duncan and Annie and when Duncan is unfaithful they split; anyway Annie is becoming rather entranced by her growing virtual relationship with Crowe, who will come into both their lives in reality soon…
Hornby’s big themes of lives wasted, mid-life crises, that families require work, and obsession are worked out in his characteristic fluent and witty style with some moments of pathos thrown in. He is sympathetic to all of them, yet doesn’t let them get away with it, they have to suffer the consequences of their actions. He knows them, understands their needs and obsessions (as I felt do I!), and this makes for an engaging and satisfying read with all ends tied up neatly. As a companion piece to the wonderful High Fidelity, if you liked that you’ll certainly enjoy Juliet, Naked which could be seen as the next chapters in the lives of Rob and Laura. The main characters here being that bit olde,r and needing to do that last bit of growing up with their mid-life crises, make this a wistful and bittersweet book which may be of less interest to bright young things, but will surely resonate with more mature music fans!
(8.5/10) I got given this book, but would have bought it anyway!