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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
I know I'm up against a lot of Hornby's critics here when I say that I absolutely loved this book. I loved the tone of persistent comic-melancholia; the questioning attitude of the book to relationships and genuine selflessness... and its humour, with characters representing the quirks and failings on both sides of the argument.

It was the first Hornby book I...
Published on 5 Feb 2010 by G. Brock

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How to be average
I too found this book a little disappointing! I've read all his others and was looking forward to reading this one, however it never really gripped me. The plot seemed to swing about, leaving characters like her brother and lover incomplete. The actual idea of the book, what would happen if North London liberals really began wearing their hearts on their sleeves, becoming...
Published on 18 Jun 2002 by Mr S D'Arcy


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How to be average, 18 Jun 2002
By 
Mr S D'Arcy (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: How to be Good (Paperback)
I too found this book a little disappointing! I've read all his others and was looking forward to reading this one, however it never really gripped me. The plot seemed to swing about, leaving characters like her brother and lover incomplete. The actual idea of the book, what would happen if North London liberals really began wearing their hearts on their sleeves, becoming selfless, giving away their possessions & money and so on, is an interesting one but the trigger for it all, GoodNews, just doesn't seem right somehow. As usual, apart from some duds, the dialog and set pieces were amusing but it wasn't enough in the end.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars sadly disappointing, 10 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: How to be Good (Hardcover)
I agree with the "massive disappointment" review - the first truthful review I have seen. This book does have it's funny moments, most particularly the long list of things and people that David hates. However, mostly I found the protagonists unbelievable and very annoying. I felt that I was been spoon fed the gags, everything had to be explained by the narrative voice, presupposing an unknowing reader, and I just didn't like anyone enough to care about them. I have been hugely entertained by all Hornby's previous books. This is sadly disappointing.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, disenchanted, down in the doldrums..., 17 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: How to be Good (Hardcover)
I found this book inordinately depressing and dull - extremely disappointing from a writer of Nick Hornby's versatile talent and comic ability. What was happening in your life when you wrote this Nick?! The underlying theme about how empty and meaningless life is does get a little tiresome - perhaps spring was the wrong time of year to release it. The main character's incessant whinging, self centredness and self justifying clever-clever comments do nothing to endear one to the "novel" - she is bland, dislikeable and utterly unoriginal, and initially the book reads like a diary that should never have been published. The book's saving grace is the scene at the party where the residents are persuaded to adopt a homeless person, providing about three comic moments which are so welcome amidst all the dreariness I think I actually laughed out loud. Will the real Nick Hornby please come back!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly terrible., 6 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: How to be Good (Hardcover)
The book I read, was short, basic and really seemed to hold no conclusion. Though I'm sure someone will agree with me on that (someone can always draw a conclusion).
The book itself was (I think) a little over 400 pages, if that. The plot started exactly like the synopsis states, however nothing really much happens more than that. It seems to stay in that position and although that part is very good, its not sufficient to entirely fill a book. The book feels like a great idea, which really hasn't progressed into more than that.
The characters are good, but hardly any development happens, you see more into them, but they change very little in your perception of them. As soon as the character is identified, you see no change, they pretty much act in their predetermined roles.
It is funny in places, I agree. The places are small enough in an novel to improve a book, this doesn't feel like a book though. I'd truly advise against buying this, even in paperback. Hopefully the next one will be better.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How to be...a bit of a let down!, 3 July 2002
This review is from: How to be Good (Paperback)
Seems to me Nick got a bit bored somewhere along the way in writing this book. Whilst it had all the trademarks of Hornby - plenty of outlooks on life today in Modern Britain, strong characters and some very amusing ones at that, I felt that the end (without giving it all away) it didn't build up to a crescendo, but more stumbled over a cliff. The story seemed to going somewhere and with all decent novels, you couldn't tell exactly where. However, Hornby just seemed to say "Oh sod this for a game of soldiers, I'm just packing it all in as I really can't be bothered any more."
Maybe all stories shouldn't have a happy ending, I can accept that...but this book limped over the finishing line rather than leaving you with a half decent conclusion.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, boring, boring, 4 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: How to be Good (Hardcover)
I really wanted to love this book too, or at least like it! I was so looking forward to reading it, and it was such a disappointment! It was as if it wasn't Hornby writing at all, completely different from his other books and to be honest fairly depressing. There wasn't enough wit to lighten the mundane and miserable subject of a marriage on the point of break down, nothing really happened, so no action and I never really cared about any of the characters. I almost committed the sin of not finishing it, but made myself, I don't know why I bothered! I think I was hoping against the odds that it would get better!I see the good in most books, but if I had to choose one word to sum it up I would say "BORING".
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Massive Disappointment..., 4 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: How to be Good (Hardcover)
This has been one of the most eagerly-awaited books of the year. Nick Hornby's excellent previous novels High Fidelity and About A Boy have left readers looking forward to another high-quality novel. The author's ability to translate apparently ordinary characters and situations into hilarious and observational fiction has been a trademark of his success. So all this only serves to make it more difficult to comprehend how Nick Hornby has now come up with such a lousy book.
The story sounds great - Katie Carr, the story's narrator, is unhappy with her marriage to David. She has become tired of his constantly angry moods. She has decided to end the marriage and she even begins an affair with another man. It is just at this moment that David decides to change his ways and become 'good'. And it's this 'good' word that becomes the theme for the rest of the story. Is Katie a good person? Has David now become a good person? What does it take to be a good person?
The opening two chapters of How To Be Good are pretty solid. There are the usual Hornby trademarks of funny observations and a good pace develops. But things start to go rocky from chapter three and continue to nose dive. A big problem with How To Be Good is that it is just plain ridiculous and annoying. David visits a spiritual healer by the name of GoodNews, to cure his backache. GoodNews then becomes an annoying feature for the rest of the book. He moves into the marital home and David becomes a convert. Before long, Katie has to watch whilst her husband and GoodNews embark on a number of 'good' campaigns, such as giving away their money and possessions. They even approach their neighbours in the expectation that they'll take in homeless people so they too can be good. And, naturally, their neighbours are just as keen to be saintly and so some agree to the idea.
Hornby writes okay from a woman's viewpoint and Katie should have been a truely likable character if she hadn't been allowed to fall into the category of doormat. The whole story is a circus of unconvincing and very unfunny events. GoodNews uses his mystical power to cure various ailments. David joins in with many 'good' deeds that are simply insane. Katie has to lie back and accept the fact that homeless and unstable people are going to be popping in and out of her home from now on, because doing so is a 'good' thing. Katie's two children, Tom and Molly, take sides with whoever is their favourite parent. To be fair, Tom adopts a realistic enough attitude and resents the entire 'let's all go mad' lifestyle. However, Molly is another character who behaves as only a fictional character ever could. Katie allows her daughter a level of authority within the home that is completely unrealistic.
There are some okay moments - flashes of wit that are undeniably Hornby-quality. But they're too brief and too rare. In summary, How To Be Good is a silly, unrealistic and mostly unfunny book and to have to say that about a Nick Hornby novel is unexpected.
A massive disappointment.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Intimacy Lite, 24 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: How to be Good (Paperback)
I'm one of those people - guys mostly, I suspect - who found High Fidelity hugely entertaining and the follow-up soppy and pretentious. So, for me, How to be Good is just a case of "I told you so".
The book is a quick and painless read, for sure. It's quick mainly because once you get bored with the long-winded style, you start skimming through the endless sentences of unexciting and repetitive social commentary, hunting for the next bit of dialogue or any kind of internal or external action that would propel the story. ("It has been raining and raining and raining - it has been raining harder than anyone can remember." I kid you not. This is a sentence produced by the once-great Nick Hornby.)
To have a female protagonist is a clever idea, but while you're at it, why not make her interesting? As it is, the Katie character seems just an excuse for literary self-indulgence. You have a talkative female lead, so you're entitled to gigantic, rambling paragraphs, right? Wrong. What is boring and pointless in real life is boring and pointless on paper. I think a writer should seriously consider pressing the delete button when he has to insert a breathless "So anyway" into his prose to put a brake on runaway inner monologue. (And in case anyone thinks I just don't "get" it because I'm not from the right nationality or social group or postal district, well - I didn't need to be British to enjoy High Fidelity, did I?)
How to be Good is a painless read, too, and I don't think it should be. After all, it's supposed to tackle serious issues such as divorce, infidelity, unhappy children, and, of course, how to be good. Alas, I felt shortchanged. Hornby only skims the surface, retreating behind his funny-man mannerisms every time things start to get a little gloomy. For all his pretensions of being a serious author, he still can't write about sorrow and loss without trying to make it somehow more palatable for an imagined average reader. (In Hollywood, they call toned-down comedies like this "bitter-sweet".) Katie's suicidal brother, for example, has great potential as a character with real-life dimensions, yet he ends up being just a sketch like everyone else.
So, at best, this book is Intimacy Lite, with lots and lots and lots and lots of words pretending to be insights into the human condition ("Getting married and having a family is like emigrating" - that kind of stuff), yet, obviously, with none of Kureishi's wit.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 15 Jun 2002
This review is from: How to be Good (Paperback)
I tried very hard but could not find a trace of the humour promised in the write up.
After fifty pages I thought "maybe he's a slow starter".
After about a hundred it was plain that the story was simple and unrealistic and the characters equally lacking. I plodded on to the end but did not find any improvement, I'm afraid Mr. Hornby's sense of humour does not appeal to mine.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Zzzzzzzzzzzzz Perfect for insomniacs., 12 July 2001
This review is from: How to be Good (Hardcover)
I really, really wanted to like this book. In fact I paid over twelve quid for the hardback and must say it is a dire and ghastly read, but great for those who have trouble sleeping or like me were suffering from jet-lag. I guarantee that ten pages of this and you will sleep like a baby. You see there is no plot to speak of and the characters are not even irritating enough to be slappable, they're just plain dull and I don't care what happens to them. I'm sorry Nick but I'm afraid I'm going along with the majority on this page...
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How to be Good
How to be Good by Nick Hornby (Paperback - 24 Jun 2010)
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