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3.4 out of 5 stars
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3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 9 July 2014
Juliet, Naked changed my life, not something many people say about Nick Hornby books but it's true.

I saw myself reflecting back at from the pages and I didn't like what I saw. Mr Hornby has captured the obsessive and snobby nature of online music forums perfectly. The world of Juliet, Naked isn't sugar coated happiness it is a world of grey seas, of broken marriages, absent parents and loveless relationships.

The story bounces along at an enjoyable pace and given the journey the ending is enough to raise a smile.
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on 15 May 2017
Great book and good condition
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on 9 July 2014
I have read almost all the books by Nick Hornby. I find him somewhat ingenious. He is able of taking some (almost) normal characters in ordinary settings and pull out some stories that you would not have thought in any way. His is a fantasy that moves outside the box. The situations he tells are unusual but plausible. His characters are alive in our minds. And they all make us laugh, sometimes to tears, for the things they do or say.
Again in "Juliet, Naked" Hornby brings out the best of himself. He tells the story of a forgotten rock star and of the companion of one of his few remaining fans (bordering on obsession). Two distant characters, not only geographically, that thanks to the internet come into contact.
The character of the former rocker Tucker is so well built, complete with a page of Wikipedia, that you almost have the doubt that a famous musician by that name really existed in the 80s. Despite the objective absurdity of the story, due to an excess of unusual events and characters, the suspension of disbelief is total.
Yet even this novel by Hornby, as almost all of them, seems to get lost in the end. After having exceeded without scruples throughout the book, he cannot dare in closing it. Unlike other novels in which he fell into a feel-good ending, where the characters return to normal, after the madness of the story, here the author indulges in an open ending. This in itself would not be bad at all. I love open endings, the problem with this though is that Hornby did not even try to give a true indication of the direction to which, probably, the situation will evolve. Except maybe once again a foregone conclusion, as what happened during the novel doesn't matter at all. And this is again the question that comes up every time: isn't it maybe the case that the author did not know how to finish this story?

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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VINE VOICEon 2 February 2010
Nick Hornby's latest novel in my esteemed opinion is a return to form after the fiasco of 'A Long Way Down' which I couldn't even penetrate the first few chapters. The plot of this book centres around the relationship of Annie and Duncan who've been partners for the last fifteen years by habit rather than love. They reside in the fictional Northern seaside town of Gooleness where Annie works as a museum curator and Duncan a lecturer at a local college, Duncan's obsession with the retired singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe seeks to undermine their relationship when Duncan disagrees with Annie's review of the stripped down 'naked' version of Tucker's revered album 'Juliet.'

Although you can spot the traditional Hornby narrative trademarks - i.e. strained relationships and blokish obesssions with music it didn't really detract from my enjoyment of this novel although I did find that all of the characters' internal voices seemed more male than female at times. I also liked the sly dig at internet fora/chat rooms etc and the upshot of all of this was that although the internet can be a wonderful thing it can bring together rather obsessive people at times (hark at me writing on Amazon!) The only thing which let it down slightly was the ambiguous ending, but otherwise a good read.
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VINE VOICEon 5 July 2010
Nick Hornby's latest novel involves a subtle, bare plot, and employs his usual conversational writing style, which inevitably leads to him not being given the recognition he so deserves by the literary establishment. `Juliet Naked' is a cleverly observed study of fortysomething male obsession with music and fandom - which is fuelled by the power of the internet to link similarly obsessed people (mainly men) across the world, and to therefore sustain and fan the flames of their obsession long after they should have died out. It is also bitingly accurate about the inability of some of the male species to create and sustain meaningful relationships.

Duncan and Annie have one such unhealthy 15 year relationship. The boredom and inertia of their lives in the bleak east coast town of Gooleness positively seeps from the pages. Annie works in a local museum where the event of the decade was a shark washed up on a local beach that she is now curating an exhibition to commemorate. So people there clearly need to get out more. And Annie has had to share her man with another, the American singer songwriter turned reclusive wild man Tucker Crowe. We join the couple on holiday in America making an inevitable pilgrimage to the site of Tucker's mysterious disappearance from the music scene followed an alleged incident in a toilet. Duncan is obsessed with all things related to Tucker, and spends most of his time and energy discussing the minutiae of his life (or actually what his fans think his life is - as they don't actually know anything about him since he disappeared from view).

Duncan is busy being unfaithful to Annie with someone at his school, but Annie is taking infidelity to a whole new level when she opens a package addressed to Duncan, and plays the first new material released by Crowe in over 20 years before Duncan has a chance to hear it. Clearly an unforgivable offence. When Duncan does hear it, he quickly writes a rave review on the Tucker Crowe website that he runs, `Can Anybody Hear Me?' In a fit of pique Annie writes a much more objective review herself and posts it alongside Duncan's. After all, this material is just a solo acoustic version of a previous album, which is much inferior to the original in her eyes.

This is where the fun really starts, as the real Tucker Crowe actually responds to her email, and tends to agree with her assessment of the material. The developing relationship between Annie and Tucker is nicely observed, and written in true Hornby style. Duncan's reaction to it is amusing and inevitable. Hornby is at his best when writing about the mechanics of music and how people relate to it, as with his earlier classic `High Fidelity'. Whilst this novel does not quite hit the high spots of some of his early work for me, it is still an entertaining, amusing and honest account of relationships, and why we are sometimes so bad at them, for all sorts of reasons.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 October 2009
Obviously there's deep irony in posting a review of a new book by one of my favorite authors when one of the key elements of the book's plot is an adoring fan's online review of a new album...but oh well. I have to admit, I was a little leery when I cracked the spine of Hornby's latest novel. After setting the bar ridiculously high with his first two books, Fever Pitch and High Fidelity, Hornby has continued on to produce a series of engaging, but not quite as brilliant successors. And it had to be said that his last adult novel, A Long Way Down, was distinctly underwhelming. Fortunately, this new book represents a return to form, as well as being a work that speaks to an older (though probably not wiser) audience than his previous work.

The mechanics of the story are relatively simple: Annie and Duncan are a cohabitating couple approaching 40 as they eke out moderate existences as a small museum director and college instructor, respectively. They've been together for 15 years, and about the only thing keeping them together is inertia and the lack of prospects in the seaside cultural wasteland they live in (a fictional town on England's eastern coast, somewhere near Hull -- roughly the American equivalent of a small, tacky, Jersey shore town). Duncan is obsessed with an obscure American singer-songwriter from the '80s who inexplicably walked away from music one day, and spends a great deal of his time and energy running a website devoted to the mysterious Tucker Crowe. One day, a "new" Tucker Crowe album is released (it's actually the demos from a concept album beloved by his fans), and Duncan and Annie's differing reactions to it trigger a chain of events which brings the reclusive ex-musician into their lives in the flesh.

Here, we have three main characters who are middle-aged (as Hornby himself is) in a story whose dominant theme is mortality and regret. The book revolves around the question of what to do when you suspect you might have wasted a good portion of your life. Yes, it's all about the good old-fashioned mid-life crisis, only here, the characters don't have any particular attachments that will prevent them from repositioning themselves. If this doesn't sound promising, don't worry, it's engaging, funny, and refuses to submit to expectations. As in all his books, Hornby is honest enough to make his characters face the consequences of their poor decisions, while remaining a compassionate enough writer to make them real, multidimensional people.

Another of the main themes is parenthood, and I wonder whether I would have connected to this book as much ten years ago, before I had children of my own. Hornby --himself a father of three -- seems to be suggesting that while conventional redemption is not simple to come by, a more complex kind may be achieved through parenthood. It'll be interesting to see if there's a generation gap in reactions to the book. All that said, there's still plenty of pop culture geekery to revel in. For example, one minor subplot involves Annie stumbling into a Northern Soul night at a local club, allowing Hornby to write about that odd little British subculture (see books like Nightshift,Northern Soul, and Too Darn Soulful). And as I mentioned before, it's quite funny -- full of sharp wit and laugh-out-loud lines which help to even out the tone. A good, quick read for people of a certain age.
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My daughter bought this for my birthday last year, to add to the shelf containing all of Nick Hornby's books that I've been reading and re-reading over the years. So I'm a fan (which fits in with the subject of this tale), but not - I think - an uncritical one. The story has a promising start as we're introduced to Duncan - the latest in a long line of Hornby's feckless middle-aged male heroes, with too much money and time on their hands to prevent them from developing slightly obsessive relationships with music, films and books, whilst paying less attention to the people around them (in this case, Annie, for whom the adjective 'long-suffering' seems to have been specifically coined). The original version of this character was High Fidelity's Rob, but Hornby still knows enough about him (and his readers) to provide little shocks of recognition: in particular on p21, when Duncan comes back from his holiday with Annie and only picks out his Amazon parcels, leaving the rest of the mail for Annie to deal with, I started to wonder if Hornby had installed a webcam in my own house.

In spite (or maybe because) of being able to relate uncomfortably to Duncan, I didn't feel the book maintained its hold on me. The main story is promising: Duncan's obsession with Tucker Crowe, an obscure, retired American singer-songwriter and Annie's attempts to find meaning in her relationship with him, in her life, and in the town they inhabit ("the North's answer to a question nobody asked"). This is promising stuff, and there are interesting digressions on the nature of art, fandom, relationships, parenthood and the influence of the Internet on communications along the way. But I felt the thrust of the story was diluted by the addition of too many other characters whose contributions had doubtful value, even as caricatures: Malcolm the therapist, Barnsey the dancer, Ros the lesbian - not to mention the parade of Tucker's ex-wives and children that are only crudely sketched in. I found it a fairly enjoyable read, but finished the book thinking that there was a more interesting, better focussed story buried within that would have been more rewarding for Hornby to have produced.
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on 14 June 2010
Juliet, Naked is another of Hornby's books in which music frequents the storyline. The main characters are all combined through Tucker Crowe, a has-been of a musician who is spending his life in hiding living off various wives and girlfriends, the latest of which is Cat, mother to the apple of his eye, Jackson.
The story forms around Annie and Duncan, a couple who are obviously with each other because they can put up with one another and don't want to be alone. Duncan's obsession with Tucker makes it seem as though there are three in the relationship. When Tuckers "new" album comes about and Annie disagrees with Duncan's view of the album the cracks start to show in their relationship until eventually Duncan leaves. Tucker and Annie come together through the review Annie writes about the album online. The review is different to the usually fanatics and as the story develops Tucker gets in touch with Annie and the two become closer.
The story is, in my personal view, brilliant; I understand the dull drone of life for Annie as she wonders through it in a boring seaside town. Perhaps as I come from a bring town myself. As for Duncan there's times when I want to shout at him for being such a boring git or just not appreciating what he's got with Annie. Tucker is also a lively character and I believe he's that type of guy who one minute you can love and the next think he's a prick. The realistic nature of the characters come through brilliantly but I do think, as other reviews have suggested, there is an age of reader who will associate with the novel more than others. As a younger reader, in my very early twenties, I don't think I got the most out of the novel as I have done other Hornby classics. I was sat thinking throughout a lot of the beginning of the novel that Annie should just leave Duncan and couldn't believe that he left her and spent a lot of time wondering how Tucker Crowe managed to get all the women he had seemed to accumulate over the years, however then realised that if I met a guy out of a band and I was single I'd probably want to get to know him too! Also the relationship that Tucker has with his family, especially his children didn't get me interested and I found myself being very annoyed at him because of this - maybe as I'm more the children's age perhaps?
However these downsides only made me think more about the characters and the background that you don't get from the novel. I would love to read Hornby's notes and see if the ideas about their backgrounds I have match with what their creator had in mind. I think Juliet, Naked, is a great read, even if it's not Hornby's greatest work, but let's face it, there are high expectations in any of his new works!
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This can be seen, I guess, as a sort of follow up to 'High Fidelity' in that it concerns men's relationships with music vis a vis their relationships with women, but updated to encompass the internet age.

But whereas all of the characters in 'HF' were completely convincing - real types, rather than stereotypes - the protagnists and settings of 'JN' come across as mere representations of stock ideas,soap opera characters. 'Duncan' (Check out his geeky Christian name!) the obsessive rock fan defined further only by his sexual and social awkwardness, the heroine Annie defined by her broodiness: The unforgivably cliched North-Eastern seaside town 'Gooleness' entirely populated by blue-rinsed pensioners. and then there's Tucker Crowe,(Rubbish name) who's credibility as a character is undermined by the fact that whilst he's a convicing early 70s rocker in the style of Alex Chilton and Lowell George,in order to make the book work was somehow famous in the post-punk early 80s. (Imagine a novel wherein say, a character based on Gary Numan was set in the early 70s, and you'll see how this doesn't work) Granted, it's a short book, but none of the characters or backgrounds are delineated in enough depth to be convincing: It's a pretty mediocre novel in short, and one that wouldn't, I feel, have been rated so highly in the press if it wasn't by an estblished author. Mr Hornby's been living on his reputation for a good few novels now: This one sees him out of puff.
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on 6 January 2013
Reading this novel felt like such a disappointment - not because it was atrociously bad or appalling or disturbing, but because it was so mediocre, a long way from being memorable. Reading it, I found myself in a state of perpetual expectation, expecting it to get better and for something - in the next chapter perhaps, or the one after that - to make it worthwhile. Sadly, this never happened for me. There just wasn't much to hang on to as a reader, close to nothing to make the story or the characters interesting, or even likable. And I'm not saying that a measure of a good novel or a story is how likable the characters are, but considering how heavily this novel relies on characters (Juliet, Naked isn't anything if not a novel built on characters) I feel that Hornby, in this instance, did not manage to breathe enough life into them.

Having liked all his other works I've read (I liked About a Boy and some of his non-fiction, High Fidelity and A Long Way Down not as much but I still found them enjoyable), I was predisposed to like this one as well. So it's not the case that I do not like his style (nor do I think this book deviated too much from his usual style). Perhaps this just isn't among the best things he's written.
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