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Juliet, Naked: a novel Hardcover – September 29, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594488878
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488870
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #823,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hornby returns to his roots: music, manic fandom and messy romance in his funny and touching latest, dancing between three perspectives on fame: a sycophantic scholar, an appreciative audience member, a fabled singer-songwriter who can't see what all the fuss is about. After cult musician Tucker Crowe vanished from the public eye 20 years ago, his small but devoted fan base built up a mythology around his oeuvre and the people and places associated with his storied life. Self-appointed Crowologist Duncan has indoctrinated his girlfriend, Annie, on the wonders of Tucker, but when Annie fails to recognize the genius of a newly released version of Crowe's classic album Juliet, their 15-year relationship quickly crumbles. Meanwhile, Duncan's glowing first review is increasingly de-bated, while Annie's deconstructive essay posted on the same Web site earns her a clandestine e-mail correspondence with the reclusive musician. Soon, their exchanges grow more personal; given that Tucker lives in an American backwater and Annie resides in a remote English town, both view their e-mails as a safe flirtation until the dissolution of Tucker's latest marriage and a crisis with one of his several neglected children brings him to Annie's side of the Atlantic. Through brisk dialogue and quick scene changes, Hornby highlights each character's misconceptions about his or her own life, and though Duncan, Annie and Tucker are consistently ridiculous and often self-destructive, they are portrayed with an extraordinary degree of sympathy. Tucker's status of Dylan by way of Salinger allows for an intriguing critique of celebrity fetishization and of the motives behind the eccentricity that comes along with fame. Obviously, this is a must-read for Hornby's fans, but it also works as a surprisingly thoughtful complement to the piles of musician bios and memoirs. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Hornby’s books are almost shamefully readable. They can suffer from simplistic premises and too many corny jokes, but his characters are always richly, sympathetically drawn. In this novel of aging, love, and regret, Annie lives in a decaying seaside town in England, where her partner of convenience, Duncan, immerses himself in the esoterica of an obscure American singer-songwriter, Tucker Crowe, who quit the business twenty years earlier and hasn’t been heard from since. When Tucker releases a demo version of his most famous album, “Juliet,” Duncan’s and Annie’s divergent reactions (he loves it, she hates it) pull them apart. Through a series of entertaining if implausible events, Annie and Tucker strike up a friendship. The story is tinged with despair, and though the ending offers little by way of hope, its bittersweet ambiguity lends it maturity.

More About the Author

Nick Hornby is the author of the novels A Long Way Down, How to Be Good (a New York Times bestseller), High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and of the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is also the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters E. M. Forster Award, and the Orange Word International Writers London Award 2003.

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Customer Reviews

Hornby writes fluently and he writes wicked funny.
C. Ebeling
This book is really about relationships and people, the characters are all interesting, likable, and believable.
P. Greer
Seriously, this book was so damn enjoyable, I just hated for it to end.
J. Ehrlich

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

153 of 163 people found the following review helpful By datura2002 VINE VOICE on September 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
All you really need to know about Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby's latest, is
that it doesn't disappoint. It's really, really good, and it may even
replace High Fidelity as my favorite.

The main characters are Annie and Duncan, a middle-aged couple, and Tucker
Crowe, an aging musician in retirement. Annie and Duncan have a
relationship-ending fight about the quality of Tucker Crowe's new album,
and Annie begins a correspondence with Tucker Crowe himself.

Juliet, Naked is about Regret. Big, mid-life crisis level Regret -- grief
and anger at the too-quick passage of time, of wasted opportunities. It's
about the realization that one has not Done Enough, or Done the Right
Things.

This may sound unappetizing. But one of the rare and great features of
Nick Hornby's writing is how he takes situations that would normally be
dreary, such as a serious break-up (High Fidelity) or teenage pregnancy
(Slam), and makes these situations hilariously funny. His characters are
self-aware about themselves in some ways, but not at all in other ways.
These gaps in self-knowledge, and Hornby's gentle handling of them, are
exquisite in their subtlety and insight.

This book reminded me: (1) Do the work you love, and (2) Strive to spend
time with the people who (a) love you and (b) who you love in return.
Which of us doesn't need this reminder, always?
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By S. Rosen on October 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Nick Hornby has a bit of a reputation as a writer whose appeal is largely to young, pop culturally-obsessed men. While it's true that his earlier novels do focus on not-yet-fully-formed young men and their often unsolicited journeys towards adulthood, I always thought he was a writer remarkably sensitive and sympathetic to all his characters, male or female.

Hornby's newest novel, Juliet, Naked, is a wonderful, sweet book. The story focuses on three characters approaching or exiting middle aged, and how they deal with the regret of unfulfilled lives.

Duncan is a teacher who only comes to life when talking, listening to or writing about reclusive singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe. Annie is in a dead-end long-term relationship with Duncan and in a dead-end job as a seaside museum curator. And then there's Tucker Crowe, who has not recorded in over two decades and has been a disinterested observer of his own withdrawal from both his creative life.

I'll leave for you to discover how a small, uncharacteristically assertive action of Annie's - a dissenting post on Duncan's all-things-Tucker-Crowe website - sets into motion a series of events that forces all of these characters out of their respective ruts.

What's wonderful about Hornby's writing is that he understands and is compassionate towards all of his characters. You can think that Duncan is a sad, small man whose obsessive expertise regarding Crowe's small catalogue is a poor excuse for an actual life, but Hornby lets you understand how he got that way, and respects Duncan's intelligence and passion, however misapplied.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By J. Norburn on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I haven't read anything by Nick Hornby before, although I have seen two films that were based on his novels (and both were quite good). I should qualify my review by saying that I was a little skeptical starting the novel, thinking it might be a little too `relationship drama' for my personal tastes. A romantic comedy may be a perfectly good option for a night at home watching a DVD with my lovely wife, but reading is a solitary experience, and generally speaking, I prefer darker nastier fare than what Juliet Naked promises its readers.

But I really enjoyed the first half of the novel. In particular I found Duncan (and Duncan seen through the eyes of Annie, his long suffering girlfriend) to be quite hilarious. Duncan is a fan of a relatively obscure singer/songwriter who disappeared abruptly in the mid-eighties shortly after the release of his most critically acclaimed album, Juliet. A mystic builds around the singer, Tucker Crowe, who has become a recluse in the spirit of JD Salinger. Duncan is the eminent Crowologist, an obsessive fan who maintains a web site devoted to Tucker lore, alleged sightings of the singer, and interpretations of his song lyrics. We meet Annie and Duncan while they are on vacation in the US, making pilgrimage to the bar bathroom where Tucker decided to walk away from his career.

But the novel started to lose me a little when Tucker Crowe enters the fray. After the demo tapes of Juliet are released, as a CD called Juliet Naked, Duncan writes a gushing review and posts it on his website, declaring it a masterwork. Annie posts a contrary review and soon after, she starts receiving (and then exchanging) emails from the reclusive singer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
If you've had the pleasure of reading Nick Hornby once, it's hard to imagine not wanting to read all of his subsequent works. Certainly that is true of me, and I've finally had the chance to read his latest, Juliet, Naked. I don't know that this surpasses his very strongest work, but in no way does that imply that it is anything less than delightful.

Juliet, Naked is the story of three people. At the very center is Annie. Annie has been in a 15-year-relationship with Duncan. Duncan's not a bad guy, but perhaps the most notable thing about him is his obsessive fandom for a long-retired, minor musician named Tucker Crowe. Tucker is the third character in this triangle. We get one picture of Tucker's life and art through Duncan's smitten (and ignorant) eyes, but we are also privy to the reality, which is quite a bit different.

That is the set-up. Once we've met all the players, there is a catalyst that results in two major plot developments. The catalyst is the release of Tucker Crowe's album Juliet, Naked, a new, stripped-down version of his classic album, Juliet. It's the first anyone's heard from Crowe in 20 years, and the reception is polarizing. So much so, that it's the straw that breaks the back of Annie and Duncan's relationship. The other major, if improbably, development is that Annie and Tucker strike up a friendship. The novel is a warm, funny, affectionate look at three flawed individuals. Despite their flaws, it's hard not to fall in love with them. I can think of any number of less pleasant things to do than while away a few hours in their company.
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