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A Long Way Down Paperback – 6 Apr 2006

3.3 out of 5 stars 192 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (6 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140287027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140287028
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 594,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A dramatic, sad and thoroughly side-splitting novel. ("Newsday")

About the Author

Nick Hornby is the bestselling author of High Fidelity, About a Boy and How to be Good, as well as two works of non-fiction, Fever Pitch and 31 Songs, and the editor of Speaking with the Angel. In 1999 he was awarded the E. M. Forster Award. In 2002 he won the W.H.Smith Award for Fiction and in 2003 was honoured with the Writers' Writer Award at the Orange Word International Writers Festival. He lives in Highbury, North London.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Thought provoking novel about four strangers who find themselves on the roof of a block of flats on New Years Eve. Rather than jumping from this notorious suicide spot, they all come down and form a sort of informal self-help group as they try to rebuild their lives. The four - a disgraced TV presenter, tragically sad middle-aged single mother who has devoted her life to her disabled son, failed rock star and fowl-mouthed teen - have little in common but form an unspoken bond.

Hornby's novel is excellent in that it is moving at times and offers some hope without lapsing into sentimentality - everything is not resolved at the end. Bringing up plenty of other thought provoking issues as it proceeds, it is a real page-turner. The flow is aided by its format with each of the four telling the story in turn for a few pages at a time. Very effective as is the whole story. A superb novel.
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Format: Paperback
It is perhaps no surprise that this book has garnered such diverse scorings on Amazon and similar sites. Those who give it a low score tend to attribute this to the fact that thay cannot "identify with" most or all of the characters, and those who praise it seem to focus on Hornby's ability to portray different character viewpoints and the cleverness of the conceit.

Neither of these viewpoints is wrong. If you read a book hoping to identify and sympathise with a character, then you are bound to feel alienated from at least three of the protagonists - it's more than possible that you will not identify with any of them.

On the other hand, if you are looking for literery conceipt and the ability to switch between viewpoints, you will find it here in abundance. Pay your money and take your choice.

Trying to steer between the two stools is difficult. The multi-person narrative is a device that allows the author to flash a few of his skills, but ultimately is does make it difficult to care about any of the main protagonists in particular. Given that the central plot drive is "will they or will they not sort their lives out?" this is a serious flaw, but not fatal, as the characters and their voices are at least believable. I am also heartened that Hornby didn't try and create some unbelievably sugary ending that tied everyone's lives up in a happy ending that so rarely occurs, and that I still feel that each of the characters has a life oustide of the book that I wish to explore in more detail.

To me it's a clever little tale that never quite pays off, but which is at least not predictable and does remain in the memory
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Format: Hardcover
Nick Hornby can rightfully claim to be the king of modern day intelligent 'lad-lit' and he deserves immense credit for getting many 30something males reading again.
His first three major works - two superb novels About A Boy and High Fidelity plus Fever Pitch, his touchingly honest account of the male passion for football - put him into a league of his own and made subsequent books must-buys.
To be honest, however, his last two novels (including this on) have been let downs.
This one has an excellent premise - it is about four people who are about to commit suicide at the same time at a well -known 'suicide spot' deciding against it and forming an unlikely bond. The problem is that the unlikely bond is simply too unlikely because the four people are just so different that I doubt they could convince a child to eat sweets let alone stop each other killing themselves!
Told in turn by the four very different characters, the story has a nice pace and is very readable but it simply lacks credibility. Worst of all is the creation of a screwed up teenager - Jess - who is simply so unlikable and horrible there won't be anybody reading this who wouldn't have wished she had indeed jumped in chapter one. That the three relatively sane and intelligent people around here would have befriended her and ignored her OTT exploits is one of those unlikely premises on which this book is based and I am afraid that by the end of the book I felt a little bit cheated that a potentially fascinating plot had simply failed to deliver or offer nearly enough of Hornby's usually spot-on insights into the psyche.
Nick Hornby remains an important writer and a very good wordsmith and ideas man but he needs another 'great' book I think. And this isn't it.
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Format: Paperback
A Long Way Down really does start with an intriguing premise. 4 completely unrelated strangers meet on top of Toppers Towers, a well known suicide spot in North London. The four characters, Martin, Maureen, Jess & JJ come from varying backgrounds with varying amounts of angst in their lives.
At first glance some problems seem a lot worse than others, Maureen is deeply depressed and lonely, which has been brought about by the continued care of her son, who can no more identify who she is or where he is than I can jump over a house. Martin has disgraced himself and lost his lucrative TV job by sleeping with a 15 year old girl, Jess is distraught over the break up of a relationship and JJ sees his life spiralling out of control with the loss of his band, and his girl.
Now you might think that the pressures of full time care of a son who can't appreciate it out rank the troubles of a young girl on her first break up but what Nick Hornby quite skilfully does here is to create an even ground, not judging peoples problems or making light of them. What he is essentially saying is that people deal with problems in their own way, and that even the smallest problem can seem like the end of the world in the wrong hands.
Our characters grow through their relationship with one and other, discussing each others problems and short comings. We begin to discover that there is more to Jess's neurosis than typical "teen angst" and where you swing from understand Martin's behaviours (not his sleeping with a 15 year old...), to thinking he is frankly a berk who has no right to his family if he won't put the work into it. This juxtaposition is at times well handled, but overall feels a little heavy handed and when it comes to it, this is my major problem with the whole book.
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