Review: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

julietCompleted for the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge.

I had it in my 2013 Challenge list. However, due to other books taking priority, and maybe due to the fact that this one didn’t really grab me as much as some of my other 2013 titles (11/22/63, anyone?), I never got around to reading it.

Even this year, I started it early in the year and it took me four months to get through it. I usually have a book like this – one where I start, lose interest, then start reading other stuff. I’ve had about two months’ worth of library reads, so this one, which I own, was bumped down the list to accommodate my library books.

So, what can I say about this book? Juliet, Naked refers not to an unclothed woman, as maybe some male readers might hope. 😉 Rather, it is the title of a new album by reclusive American singer/songwriter Tucker Crowe, who had a big hit back in the day and then faded into obscurity, except for his small but passionate fan base. One such fan is Duncan, an Englishman who is part of an obsessive fan base that speculates on the current whereabouts and lifestyle of Crowe. He goes so far as to take his girlfriend, Annie, who is a reluctant Crowe fan by association, to America to do a tour of some of the famous places Crowe either recorded at, or played live at. Duncan even visits  the home of the titular Juliet (Julie), who isn’t home at the time, but it doesn’t matter to Duncan. This is a Mecca-like experience for him.

Annie isn’t nearly as feverish about Crowe, but learns to like the obscure artist’s music through Duncan. When Naked is released after 20 years of no new music, it sets his fan base into a frenzy. Duncan, having obtained a copy before some of the others, writes a very high-falutin’ review on the fan site. Annie, who has reached her breaking point with Duncan, is inspired to write a review basically saying the album is crap. Lo and behold, Crowe reads her review and contacts her via e-mail. Thus begins an intercontinental flirtation between Annie and the musician.

That is a synopsis of some of the action of the novel. Hornby depicts Crowe as having some of the stereotypical characteristics one would expect from a rock musician – namely, several ex-wives and children with each of them; recovering from alchoholism; but other than that, he leads a normal and rather boring life. Annie, whose life is also normal and rather boring, can’t fathom what Crowe is even doing talking to her. It’s not only a clash of lifestyles but of continents. That there’s any kind of common thread is surprising to both of them.

This book examines life from the perspective of Annie, Duncan and Tucker at times, and explores the dynamics of relationships of convenience, of trying to heal broken family ties, and of what happens to your perception when your idol turns out to be a pretty ordinary guy.

For a Nick Hornby book, I’d say this was just ok. I was expecting it to be more than it was. If I were to say yay or nay on this one, I’d probably say nay. Pick something else by Hornby, like High Fidelity or About a Boy. Or better yet, rent those movies. 😉

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