A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

I thought I had read everything Nick Hornby had written when I was in my twenties and early thirties. Wrong. I missed A Long Way Down (and I’m afraid to say it’s meant that I haven’t finished the Hornby catalogue on a good note…hurry up Nick and write another excellent book).

A Long Way Down is the story of four very different people who meet on New Year’s Eve. Notably, they don’t meet at a party – instead, it’s on the roof of Topper’s House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives. There’s Martin, a disgraced former TV talk show host; JJ, a musician whose rock and roll dreams have been shattered; Jess, a teenage girl burning with anger; and Maureen, mother to a severely disabled son.

It’s actually remarkable how little I have to say about this book. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t really care for any of the characters (except maybe Maureen). Perhaps it was because the story made me think about the people I’ve known who took their own lives. It’s not the kind of thing that can be made light of, even with Hornby’s usual wit.

2/5 If you want Hornby, stick with High Fidelity, Fever Pitch and 31 Songs.

Their ‘last supper’? Vegetarian pizza that JJ was supposed to be delivering. I like this roasted vegetables and feta pizza.


8 responses

  1. I’d have to say that I agree! I read this one several years ago… and yeah, I didn’t care for the plot or the characters much. I do like Hornby’s writing very much and have enjoyed several of his other books — but this isn’t one of them. 🙂

  2. I agree totally with your comments. I like Hornby’s work usually; High Fidelity was terrific and About a Boy also, and, as an Arsenal tragic, Fever Pitch was bliss! Juliet, Naked was a bit curious but Long Way, grabbed with enthusiasm from the library shelf, a disappointment. Mention should be made of Hornby’s fine and sensitive screenplay of An Education.
    I’m sure he will be back in form soon. I haven’t read 31 Songs, will look for it immediately.

    • Hello! I didn’t know he wrote the screenplay for An Education but I very much enjoyed that movie. 31 Songs worth a look – I gave it to my brother for his birthday one year along with a blank notebook and challenged him to write his own ’31 songs/ stories’.

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