I knew I was in safe hands from the very first sentence of Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby, who is a reliably entertaining author.
They had flown from England to Minneapolis to look at a toilet.
Obviously, I had to know what happened next.
The story follows Annie, who is an almost middle-aged woman. Annie’s boyfriend Duncan is obsessed with a musician who disappeared from sight twenty-odd years ago, after writing the best break-up album of all-time. Duncan actually asked Annie to take a photo of him in the toilet in the dingy club in Minneapolis where Tucker Crowe was believed by his fans to have made the decision to walk away from his music career.
The first half of the book was terrific. I loved learning about what Tucker Crowe’s music meant to Duncan and how Annie accommodated Duncan’s obsession. I hoped for better things for Annie as she would always be second-best in Duncan’s heart and worse, she didn’t care particularly for Duncan anyway. They had fallen into a relationship many years ago after moving to a small and remote seaside town, but their shared interest in films wasn’t much to start a relationship on and still less to keep one going, but they stayed together long past the time when they should have gone their separate ways.
The beginning of the end of Annie and Duncan’s relationship came when Juliet, Naked, an acoustic version of Tucker Crowe’s break-up album was released. Duncan thought the album was genius and Annie thought it was rubbish. She posted a review on a Tucker Crowe fan site on the internet, and Tucker Crowe responded to her, telling her that he agreed with her opinion. Annie didn’t tell Duncan that she and the famously reclusive Tucker Crowe had been emailing each other, and at the same time Duncan, disappointed by Annie’s failure to agree with his opinion, started an affair with another woman.
In the second half of this story Annie actually met Tucker Crowe, but in some ways, I preferred him as the mysterious subject of his fan’s speculations rather than as a more ‘real’ character. Having said that, I wouldn’t turn down the chance to meet any of my music idols years either.
I believe Juliet, Naked has been made into a movie, too, which I hope to watch sometime.