Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Here’s something reassuring: with Nick Hornby, you’re in good hands. And you get to hang out with characters you’d expect him to create, only with some interesting variations on a theme. I do not mean to suggest that his books are all too similar to one another, but that when you enter Hornby-land, you’re in a comfortable place that will feel familiar. This, his latest novel, did not disappoint.
Here we have a music-obsessed guy named Duncan, whose long-suffering wife Annie is accompanying him on a tour of the U.S. to retrace the steps of Duncan’s favorite singer-songwriter, Tucker Crowe. It seems that Tucker Crowe is actually Duncan’s first love, and his relationship with Annie, from her perspective at least, has become a loveless thing at best.
Tucker Crowe mysteriously fell off the map about 20 years earlier, and now his music is kept alive by stalwarts who chat about him endlessly on a Tucker Crowe web site—which is where Duncan posts a glowing review of the newly-released “naked” version of Crowe’s famous Juliet album. And this is also where Annie, fed up with the whole thing, posts a well-thought-out review panning the “naked” album. And it’s also where Tucker Crowe reads both reviews, sees Annie’s email address, and contacts her.
And, oh man, if you thought we had a love triangle situation going on before, now we’re really off to the races.
Hornby is a master of creating likeable—and moderately unlikeable—characters, and he peoples this novel with some memorable ones. His phrasing is lovely, too—deceptively easy to read, which can sometimes disguise the elegance of his writing. And here, he’s created a story that holds a reader fast.
Two thumbs up, four stars, etc., etc. Recommended!