Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

With a provocative title like that, the book is bound to attract attention. Unfortunately, there is no naked people described in the book, Juliet or otherwise. Juliet, Naked refers to the title of a music CD that was released after the very popular Juliet CD in the 1980s.

Tucker Crowe was the leader of a popular 1980 band. He stopped singing abruptly and became a recluse. His music, life history and gossip however becomes a hot subject to a group of ardent fans who had set up a website for him. Annie’s boyfriend, Duncan, is a member of the group and through him, she learns everything there is about Tucker, even travelling to US with Duncan on a Tucker Crowe pilgrimage to visit every sites he had ever been.

One day, a copy of Juliet, Naked arrives in the post for Duncan. It is the untouched version of popular CD Juliet, made some two decades ago. Duncan gives a raving review on the website. Annie too gives a review but a totally opposite one. Unknown to Duncan, she receives a reply from Tucker that marks the start of their correspondence.

Tucker, in my imagination, is like Rock Steward. He marries and divorces four beautiful women and have 5 children with them, four of whom he has hardly ever seen. The only exception is Jackson, age 6, whom he takes care of. In between, there are countless others.

While on a visit to UK to visit his daughter who had just miscarried and also to see Annie, he suffers a heart attack and decides to recuperate in Annie’s seaside hometown of Gooleness. Their relationship deepens but they live on two separate continents. Plus, could Tucker manage another relationship given his past history? The odds are just not on Annie’s side.

Actually I’m not sure, the ending is vague.

Nick Hornby is a terrific writer and one of his work had been shortlisted for the Whitbread Award. He also wrote the screenplay for An Education.

I like how he describes the instant where Tucker becomes a real person instead of a celebrity to Annie.

‘Any relationship, it seemed to her, was reduced by proximity…In her case, it had taken about three minutes for passionate admiration and dreamy speculation to be replaced by a nervous nagging disapproval. And that, it seemed to her, was a pretty good description of how some of her married female friends felt, some of the time.’

He describes Tucker’s eldest daughter, who he has been avoiding because of guilt:

‘She was the spare room that never got tidied, the email that never got answered, the loan that never got repaid, the symptom that never got described to a doctor. Except worse than any of that, obviously, what with her being a daughter rather than an email or a rash.

It was a pleasure reading the book. The people, even Duncan, has his likeable quirks despite the jerk that he is for sleeping with his colleague.

There are many funny moments and Nick has a talent for spotting ordinary events and making it funny in the book.

Go read it.

About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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