JULIET NAKED by Nick Hornby, Book Review: Rough diamond

Juliet Naked - Nick HornbyJuliet Naked Synopsis

Annie and Duncan are a mid-30s couple who have reached a fork in the road, realising their shared interest in the reclusive musician Tucker Crowe (in Duncan’s case, an obsession as well as an academic career) is not enough to hold them together any more.

When Annie hates Tucker’s ‘new release’, a terrible demo of his most famous album, it’s the last straw – Duncan cheats on her and she promptly chucks him.

Via an Internet discussion forum, Annie’s harsh opinion reaches Tucker himself, who couldn’t agree more. He and Annie start an unlikely correspondence that teaches them both something about moving on from years of wasted time.

Nick Hornby’s compelling new novel, four years after A Long Way Down, is about the nature of creativity and obsession, and how two lonely people can gradually find each other.

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In Juliet Naked Nick Hornby has written a novel about music – the people and the industry that make it, and the different meanings music has for people. For these reasons I decided to listen to this novel in audio – that decision paid dividends.

From the opening credits, the guitar background had me hooked. I love the use of music in audio-books to set the mood. The musical accompaniment in Juliet Naked helped convey the tension and emotion being felt by the central characters Annie and Duncan and the melancholy of musical has-been Tucker Crowe. The ensemble cast of narrators Jennifer Wiltsie, Bill Irwin and Ben Miles is a real treat to listen to. Listen to an audio sample.

Although laugh out loud funny in a deliciously dark way, in Juliet Naked Hornby also touches on some very deep subject matter. A sense of longing, obsession and the search for self-belief and a new direction pervade the novel. One of the central messages being that we are generally our own worst enemies…

In Juliet Naked Nick Hornby displays his talent at harnessing mid-life crises angst and turning it into a very appealing character-driven novel.

I did not like the character Duncan and so was slightly perturbed that the first couple of chapters gave this character so much focus. But please do push through that — trust me, it is all part of Hornby’s plan. Disliking Duncan makes us like the real star of the story, his long-suffering partner Annie all that much more. Crowe too turns out to be someone you want to dislike but on some very small level find yourself identifying with.

I enjoyed Nick Hornby’s Juliet Naked immensely, a carpe diem story with gritty edge, and strongly recommend this in audio-book format for the 30+ set.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5  —  Overall 4.25

Nick Hornby - Juliet Naked Novel
Get your copy of Juliet, Naked from:
Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobobooks

Genre: Romance, Drama, Audio, Humour

About the Author, Nick Hornby

NICK HORNBY is the author of the internationally bestselling novels High Fidelity, About a Boy, A Long Way Down, Slam, Juliet, Naked, and Funny Girl, as well as several works of nonfiction. He lives in London.