Annie loves Duncan - or thinks she does. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn't. Duncan really loves Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter who stopped making music 10 years ago. Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life. In doing so, she initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker, and a connection is forged between two lonely people who are looking for more out of what they've got.
Tucker's been languishing (and he's unnervingly aware of it), living in rural Pennsylvania with what he sees as his one hope for redemption amid a life of emotional and artistic ruin - his young son, Jackson. But then there's also the new material he's about to release to the world: an acoustic, stripped-down version of his greatest album, Juliet - entitled, Juliet, Naked.
What happens when a washed-up musician looks for another chance? And miles away, a restless, childless woman looks for a change? Juliet, Naked is a powerfully engrossing, humblingly humorous novel about music, love, loneliness, and the struggle to live up to one's promise.
©2009 Nick Hornby; (P)2009 Penguin
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Equal to the print edition. Different experience, but both just as good -- best possible read, best possible listen.
Nick Hornby returns to the territory of High Fidelity, the book that put him on the map and that remains his best work (not that the rest is anything less than pretty darn good). It's about a relationship set to the soundtrack of their lives, but unlike High Fidelity, which was about a lot of different music, Juliet Naked is about one particular (fictional) musician.
As a huge pop/rock aficionado since I first saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago, as an ongoing follower of all of the twists and turns of rock music over the last half century (like Hornby), it's wonderful to read books about real people and their relationships and their relationship to music (to that kind of music). The couple at the center of Juliet Naked are devoted to their Bruce Springsteen-like figure in a way that defines their life and their relationship. How that unorthodox menage a trois evolves is the best aspect of this story.
First of all, Bill Irwin is not the only narrator -- there are three, each taking over when the narrative switches among the three main characters, and they're all very good. But with respect to Bill Irwin, I have to say that I haven't heard him read any other books, but I'm a big fan of his acting and clown work. I don't even call him Bill Irwin -- to me, he will always be Mr. Noodle (from Sesame Street, which I used to watch with my daughters when they were little).
In fact, we met Bill Irwin at the stage door of a Broadway show he was in, by which time my daughters were teenagers, and they were too shy to tell him how much they liked Mr. Noodle, but not me -- I told him that I liked his character as much as the kids did. So, to hear him narrate an audiobook -- and such a good one as this -- is a bonus treat for me. How many people can say they're big Bill Irwin fans? Why would they? But I am.
I find it hard to laugh out loud when I'm by myself, whether it's reading or watching TV or movies or even listening to comedians. I believe comedy is a communal experience when it's at its best, with everyone's laughter feeding off everyone else's laughter. That said, this book did make me laugh out loud at times. Chuckle mostly, but once in a while, laugh out loud.
Lots of fun, in typical, unabashedly cliche, Nick Hornby style. Boring-ish, stuck-in-a-rut British girl settled for a boring-ish British Guy, who is obsessed with an obscure, reclusive rock legend… turns out reclusive rock legend is not all that interesting in real life. Funny how it all works out, and how a cast of otherwise boring characters manages to weave a rather interesting story. Malcolm, Annie’s “therapist” is a hoot.
I just assume Juliet, Naked will be picked up and turned into a film, like his other books, and I wonder which British actors will play which characters. I imagine Bill Nighy as Tucker - he played such a wonderful has-been rocker in Love, Actually. John Cusack would make a great Duncan. My hope would be a sensational casting choice for Malcolm, the therapist - maybe Alan Rickman? Who would play Annie? This will be an enjoyable film. Wait for it! Meanwhile, enjoy the audiobook.
The audio version really brought the story to life. At first, I was skeptical about the different voices used to represent the three main characters, but I soon realized how wonderful and vivid they made the listening experience.
I liked how the audio brought the perspectives of the main characters into focus. Of course, I love Nick Hornby's writing. He makes me laugh out loud!
First time I've ever listened to a Bill Irwin performance. I enjoyed it very much.
The book made me laugh, mostly. It was really touching and funny.
I enjoy Nick Hornby's books - being a music dork myself, it's fun to see someone else nerd out over the little details behind the making of some of the greatest albums of all time, or even some of the most mediocre. This book takes a look at the stress that being a hardcore fanboy can put on having to exist in the real world in a relationship. They say there are three sides to every story, his side, her side, and the truth, and that's pretty much what's explored here. There is the rabid fanboy who teaches courses at University on his obsession, his girlfriend of over a decade who has been dragged along for the ride, and the musician himself with the real story of his life. It's a pretty quick read that ping-pongs you between a fan's speculation and scrutiny of the tiniest details of his favorite musician's life and career, and the musician's battle to sort out his own real life in the face of these nuts.
Audiobooks changed my life. My career as a trial lawyer left no time for recreational anything, much less reading. But then . . .
So what happened?
These characters are not for everybody, but they were for me. I fell in love with Annie and so badly wanted her to find a lover. I've known Tuckers and they are like dynamite. Recovering alcoholics can go either way and they usually do. My irony. If you are the nurturing type, then once you connect with a characters or several of them, what you want most is to know they ended up okay. I truly believed this lovely story was headed that way. It had everything. For romantics like me, the slowly, awkwardly-developing love story was just what I look for and enjoy. And, I enjoyed it very much.
Annie was my favorite. I loved Annie. Annie had paid her dues and was long overdue for her rewards. She suffered 15 years of the insufferable Malcom, was out of the relationship, opportunity presented itself and, well, we don't know what happened. I am not tolerant of books that start slowly. There is no excuse for it usually. You can hook the reader on the first page. I was an hour into this book, maybe more, and was ready to put it down for good. Then it got good and I listened to it practically straight through. I am not tolerant of books that end badly either. I am not talking about a disaster. I am talking about something akin to watching a movie when you were a child and with 15 minutes to go, your mom sends you upstairs because, well just because. It's late, or something. So, now my mom doesn't send me to bed, I want to know and feel I have the right to how it ends. Anyone who can get the significance of the Blog comments at the end perhaps knows somthing I don't. I didn't get it. So, it is a very good story, nicely told and narrated that starts painfully slowly and then finishes before the end. It's regretable. I am not anything like a novelist, but I feel could have satisfactorily ended the story better in one of about ten different ways, Annie is single and loves Tucker. Tucker is single and loves Annie. Anybody have any ideas here?
I loved Annie and would go to dinner with her. If I had a choice, I'd like to go to dinner with Tucker. I imagine most people would.
In the previous comments, the book can be summarized: a great story, great character development, but starts hopelessly slowly and ends about one to two chapters too soon.
I've read almost all of Nick Hornby - I'm a big fan. As usual he gives you quirky characters and an interesting story. I really enjoyed listening but it was too short. (Sharon)
New to this medium, I wondered when I would find an audiobook that would make me laugh uncontrollably in public. Juliet, Naked is it. Juliet, Naked is the title of the catalyst of the story, an unreleased album.
This is a character driven book and author Hornsby has a real talent for capturing modern relationships, dialog and character. If while listening, a fallible and lost Annie, Tucker or Duncan you actually know doesn't spring to mind, then you probably are one of them. Each of these engaging and human characters will have you rooting for them to 'get it together'.
Although the great Bill Irwin (look him up, you'll probably think "oh, man- Is that his name? I love that guy!) is listed as the narrator, there are actually three fine narrators: one for each of the main characters. I wasn't certain how this would work, preferring a single narrator, but it fits perfectly with the structure of Hornsby's story, enhancing the listening experience.
I'm reserving 5 stars for experiences that blow my mind; listening to Juliet, Naked was only absolutely wonderful.
Nervous about the male narrator, but it was fine. I got this based on other reviews, and I really enjoyed the story. It is always a gamble with new authors but I won out on this one. It is nice to enjoy something that is not my usual fluff books.
I love Nick Hornby so had to give it a chance. This was an interesting story. I really enjoyed the story and loved the characters.
I have read almost everything by Nick Hornby and I am a huge fan of his but this is by far the worst thing I have ever read/listend to by him and in recent memory.
The plot involves a washed out c-list rock musician, a superfan of the musician, and the superfan's girlfriend. The book lacks the humour, character, and cultural references of his other books.
The only real interesting thing I found is the use of wikipedia as a narrative device explaining the career of the fictional rock star.
The narration is fine. I hope Hornby's next book is an improvement on this one.
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