In Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby returns to the themes for which he is known and loved. Flailing relationships, unfulfilled dreams, and an obsessive passion for music drive this story's plot, and those who read it will find themselves wrapped into a joyride they won't want to end.
Juliet, Naked will delight Nick Hornby's loyal fans, and it's sure to attract a new following. Whereas Hornby's earlier books, such as High Fidelity and Fever Pitch, charmed this author's hip, young devotees, Juliet, Naked will likely be loved the most by those who would label themselves - like it or not - "middle-aged."
In this way, perhaps Hornby's books are growing up with his audience and making a good case for the idea that some things never change. Sure, we get older. But do we ever really get it together? And do we ever stop longing for love or meaning or excitement in our lives? The characters in Juliet, Naked don't, and they're endearing because, in this, they show us a bit of ourselves.
Back in Gooleness, Duncan writes about Tucker Crowe in exhausting detail on his website for the former musician's enthusiasts, a far-flung group of people who have pledged an almost cult-like following to Crowe since he suddenly disappeared from the music scene more than twenty years ago. Even though Annie knows she's not a bona fide "Crowologist," as Duncan considers himself and a handful of other serious Tucker Crowe "scholars" to be, she posts a review on the website of Crowe's newly released album: Juliet, Naked.
The album is an acoustic version of Crowe's last album, Juliet, which was a collection of songs about the musician's star-crossed relationship with a woman who ultimately broke his heart. This crash-and-burn relationship also prompted Crowe's sudden withdraw from society, or so the story goes.
This book reads as if it's made for the movies, like several of Hornby's other novels-turned-films such as About a Boy and High Fidelity. But only Juliet, Naked's readers will get a sense of the level to which Hornby delights in words. These words convince us that listening to music isn't "like collecting stamps, or fly-fishing, or building ships in a bottle" and that "sheer stubbornness" is what makes human beings "affix themselves to another" even when they don't fit.
Readers might find themselves wondering at the end of Juliet, Naked what will become of these people. We grow attached to them, but Hornby doesn't give their fates away. For some readers, this lack of a tight ending might come as a disappointment, but few will be able to deny the pleasure in reading this book's every page.
Juliet, Naked will have Nick Hornby's fans - old and new - chanting more, more, more. This book is funny and smart and-above all-heart-piercingly true.