Tag: Juliet

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Posted November 11, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 4 Comments

High Fidelity by Nick HornbyTitle: High Fidelity (Goodreads)
Author: Nick Hornby
Published: Penguin, 1995
Pages: 245
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Rob Fleming is a thirty something London record store owner who has just lost his girlfriend Laura. Rob recalls his five most memorable break ups and then proceeds to get in touch with these girls in order to find out why they all ended up leaving him. Over at Championship Vinyl, Rob and his employees Dick and Barry spend their time demonstrating their vast music knowledge and constructing top five lists for every situation imaginable.

I really loved the movie High Fidelity, one of my favourites for a long time. So I’ve always meant to read the book and I finally got myself a copy. I devoured the book, faster than I expected. The book and the movie are very similar with not many noticeable differences, I was really happy about that. Problem with seeing the movie first is the fact that I keep picturing John Cusack, Iben Hjejle and every character. The only character I couldn’t remember was Ian and I imagined Peter Serafinowicz instead of Tim Robbins.

The only Nick Hornby movie I’ve read prior to High Fidelity was Juliet, Naked and I really didn’t get on to well with it. I was worried that I might have similar problems with this novel. Likely everything think I loved about the movie, comes from the book. The quirky nature, the themes and all those top five lists. Makes me want to watch the movie all over again. Weird but I prefer the movie, John Cusack is a great actor and I think it works better with the aid of audio and visual stimulation.

The thing I loved High Fidelity is the whole self-discovery plot. Rob Fleming begins the novel telling us about his top five breakups and how Laura didn’t hurt him as much as the others. This leads him to contact these five women and find out why everyone leaves him. What he discovered was the opposite and he learns more about himself than expected. The novel ends with not happiness but a deeper understanding of himself and what he must do to achieve a better life.

His love is so centred around his passion for music; he has to learn how to balance his life better. For music lovers, especially those who have an understanding in 80’s and 90’s music should appreciate this novel. For a romantic comedy, Hornby has this unique way of taking the genre that’s demographic is women and writing it with the male reader in mind.

If you liked the movie, then I’m not sure you really need to read the book. If you loved it, like I did then why not experience it in its original format (it’s like the Vinyl vs. CD debate). While it is very similar to the movie it was an enjoyable experience, one I would repeat sometime. It is a short novel so there is no real reason not to read it, except the movie is less time consuming.

Abdication by Juliet Nicolson

Posted November 10, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction / 0 Comments

Abdication by Juliet NicolsonTitle: Abdication (Goodreads)
Author: Juliet Nicolson
Published: Bloomsbury, 2012
Pages: 344
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: ARC from Publisher

Buy: Book Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

England, 1936.  The beloved king has died and a charismatic new monarch has been crowned; he is young, sympathetic to the needs of the working class, glamorous and single. By the end of the year England will be surprised to see him give up the throne for love and the lead up to World War II. Abdication follows the story of May Thomas, a wise-beyond-her-nineteen-year old who secures a position as secretary and driver to Sir Philip Blunt. This opens her eyes to British high society and falling in love with a man well beyond her reach.

I’m always interested in the time period from the 1920’s to the 1960’s, but I think that was my love for hard boiled crime novels and Mad Men. But a book about high society in the 1930’s England sounded really interesting. Abdication by Juliet Nicolson started off as a slow burn; developing characters, showing how they fit with the history at the time but I never really felt like the book took off in any way. I was waiting to be engaged with the story but it never really happened.

It is possible the author really stuck to one story arc and this book could have really benefited with some more characters to keep the book interesting. Some witting and exciting characters to spice things up would have helped as well. This book just felt slow moving and in the end boring; the character development was decent but there weren’t enough interesting characters to push me through this book.

Also the prose in the novel were only average, there was no beauty or elegance in the writing or the scenery. It was just focused on one element, which it did a decent job with but one decent element does not make a great read. Abdication just ended up being a non-fiction writer trying to attempt fiction.

 Juliet Nicolson knows her history and she managed to fit fictional characters in with historical characters but I think she is trying to do what Hilary Mantel did with Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. While this period of time was interesting, (I think The Kings Speech did a decent job telling us about this period of history) Abdication just ended up feeling like another attempt at the same formula. This was a big disappointment for me, I really wanted to like this book but I didn’t.