Funnily enough as I was on my way home from seeing a play
one of whose themes was "have I wasted my life so far?" I finished reading a book where that's very much the central question. At least the characters in Nick Hornby's latest book are slightly older than me, rather than slightly younger as in The Man
, so I don't have to get too depressed about it. The story focuses on two very different people: Firstly Annie, in her forties and stuck in the Northern seaside town of Gooleness for reasons she's not entirely clear on, has been with Duncan, a nerdy guy obsessed with obscure US singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe. Then there's Tucker himself, with a number of failed marriages behind him, plus five kids only one of whom he's got any kind of relationship with, and who hasn't really done much since he quit music 20 years ago. For very different reasons both feel they've wasted the last couple of decades; the book's title, Juliet, Naked
, comes from a new "unplugged" version of Tucker's most famous album, whose release brings the two of them together in an unlikely sequence of events.
Although there's a sadness to its core the book also has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, many of them coming from Annie's therapist, Malcolm, a man who's chosen the
worst-suited job to his personality, as most of their sessions consist of Annie trying to calm Malcolm down after some incredibly innocuous revelation from her life has shocked him to the core. I don't think this is one of those books that'll stay with me forever but it's one that creates a little world you can recognise and get sucked into while you're reading it.