Pop culture fanatic, a “Crowologist” in this particular case, is about to reach the turning point in his life when it becomes clear to him and the people around him that something has to change. This is pretty much a Hornbian plot, taking into consideration his number one bestselling novel High Fidelity which also deals with thirty-something Rob Fleming, a pop culture-connoisseur who lets his obsessions rule his life. However, Juliet Naked gives us a brand new view of Hornby, since here he dares to dive into the thoughts of a female character, Annie, which is something we couldn’t find in High Fidelity.
Written in 2009, the novel is applicable to human relationships and the world in general since people haven’t changed at all. Men are still terrified of committing to women and their commitment to music, sports or something else, leaves no room for women, nor their personality for that matter. This can be seen from the dialogue between Anne and Duncan in the beginning of Juliet, Naked:
“I promise that after this holiday I won’t be so Tuckercentric,” he said…”I’ll have got him out of my system…” “I hope not.” “Really?” “What would there be left of you, if you did?”
So, here they are, a couple that has nothing in common, who think it is better to stay in an unfulfilling relationship than taking the risk of starting over again. Yet, as the novel progresses and they travel around the US to visit all the places that had anything to do with Tucker Crowe, the musician Duncan is obsessed about, Annie seems to be more insightful of the two as she realizes that there is no love left between them.
Everyone disliked their partners at some time or another, she knew that. But she’d spent her hours in the dark wondering whether she’d ever liked him. Would it really have been so much worse to spend those years alone? Why did there have to be someone else in the room while she was eating, watching TV, sleeping?
She feels lonely and regrets not having kids. Duncan is dissatisfied with their relationship as well and he shows that by cheating on her. The action is triggered by the release of the new version of Crowe’s old album Juliet, this one being called Juliet, Naked. Annie gives her opinion of the record by posting something for the first time on a fun page dedicated to Tucker Crowe. This leads to Duncan getting more detached and to the beginning of a new friendship, or something bigger, between Annie and Tucker Crowe who is portrayed as lonely, sad and worn-down man who regrets some of his decisions in the past concerning his family, but now asks for another chance.
He would read up on parenting, if he thought it would help, but his errors always seemed too basic for the manuals. “Always tell your kids they have siblings…” He couldn’t imagine any child-raising guru taking the trouble to write that down. Maybe there was a gap in the market.
The story itself has been the subject of negative criticism of the book being described as mild. But, it’s not the original story what we look for and expect in Hornby’s novels, it’s the sentiment, the humor and his simple style that make his works suitable for everyone since everyone can relate to the genuine human emotions presented in humorous but realistic manner.
By Ana Erkić
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