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Juliet, Naked: My take on the book by Nick Hornby #review

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

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I enjoyed reading Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked although neglecting to write up my thoughts immediately after finishing the book, I gave up on writing a proper review. The movie opens this Friday on August 17th so let me give it a whirl.

The screen adaptation of Juliet, Naked stars Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O'Dowd

Duncan is an obsessed music fan, not of the current sounds being blasted on the airwaves mind you, but the sounds of yesteryear. In particular, he is devoted to a now-reclusive rocker by the name of Tucker Crowe (an unfortunate name as I have to rid my mind of Tucker Carlson before I can go on. Knowing the character is played by Ethan Hawke in the film helps.) Duncan indulges his devotion by running a website that has his fellow devotees weighing in on the man and the music 24/7. His long-suffering girlfriend—Tucker is all the man thinks about: On a trip from the UK to the US the couple even took a road trip to see the sights of Tucker—puts up with/humors his obsession. To a point. 
When someone drops a long lost Crowe album—an acoustic version of his mega-hit Juliet—on Duncan, he loses his mind, babbling online about its brilliance.
In contrast, Annie posts a comment that's both critical and insightful. It gets Tucker’s attention and unbeknownst to Duncan, the two—his girlfriend and his hero—begin communicating online. Their connection is strong enough that Tucker eventually comes to the UK to see Annie—as Duncan watches, dumbounded.

What I liked about the book

Nick Hornby’s usual brand of cutting humor. 
Duncan is a foolish, aging idiot so self-absorbed with his music he doesn’t appreciate how much Juliet is living his life, rather than hers. And how she may just be pushed to her limit. It’s a bit like the Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi  lyric—‘‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.’’ 

His empathy and clear-eyed look at men. While Hornby strikes a dark, comic tone he feels his character’s pain. 

It’s time to grow up, Duncan. But we feel for him as well. It’s all too easy to get stuck like Duncan. 

As for Tucker Crowe, our flawed rocker, many of us have a soft spot for a bad boy and Tucker is that. He’s been a bad partner, a bad father. But love, don’t you know, if you open yourself to it, and allow yourself to live it generously will keep you both grounded and give you wings. 

Annie. The girl. Not a girl at all really, but a woman who—as we used to say—has stayed too long at the fair. Hornby has an exquisite sense of our interior struggles, how hard it is for all of us as humans to find connection and like this triangle, stay in place, too scared to venture beyond the confines of that connection. We stay where it feels safe, even when safety fences us in, zaps all the life out of our lives, blinding us to possibilities where we might be our best selves.

Funny, touching, it’s the kind of grown-up love story that floats my boat. 

All signs are pointing to success for the screen adaptation starring Rose Byrne as Annie,  Chris O'Dowd as Duncan, and Ethan Hawke as Tucker. BUT READ THE BOOK FIRST!*

*If you haven’t already. Have you? What’d you think? I’m all ears.