Monday, December 17, 2012

Blogger Book Club Review - A Long Way Down

Happy Monday all.  Can you actually believe it's only just over a week until Christmas.  Yikes!

So did you read along with us this month?  We just read A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby.  Leave us a review either here or over at Heather's blog - Interior Groupie and let us know what your thoughts are.  You can also join us at our facebook page.

The story begins on New Year's Eve on a rooftop in London.  Four very different people at four very different stages of life meet on the rooftop when each of them intends on taking his/her life.

There is forty-something Martin, disgraced morning talk show host, ex con, who has gone to jail for sex with a minor; Maureen, middle-aged single mother, with a son who is severely disabled; Jess, eighteen, heartbroken, who wonders why her ex-boyfriend won't explain to her why they broke up; and JJ, American, wanna-be rock star, condemned to a life of delivering pizza.

The plans for suicide are thwarted when they realize they're not alone.  Bonded by their shared misery the group ends up spending the night together, telling stories and forming a new sad kind of gang.  There are plenty of quotable one-liners but the problem for me is that these people are supposed to be suicidal.  I could see barely a glimmer of the mental pain I imagine is required to underpin the decision to kill yourself.  

The four main characters take turns speaking throughout the book in the first person in a kind of round robin dialogue.  They each tell the story of what brought them to this place in life.  There are funny bits of dialogue and a lot of Nick Hornby's insightfulness in describing his characters.  Nobody in this gang has any affection or even tolerance for the other members but they continue to meet and even embark on a trip to Canary Islands which I had a hard time with.  Would they really spend that much time together when there was no real connection?  The book continues to explore the emotional growth and development of the characters.  Obviously we're not looking for spoilers here so I'll refrain from continuing. 

Overall I'll say I didn't really care for the book.  The story loses me under the weight of implausibilities.  My biggest complaint about the book is the first-person storytelling method that has been employed.  There is a desperate need for objectivity for me to be able to relate or enjoy the characters a bit more.  These four are clearly not very insightful about their own lives unless it's about their bad moods.

So now it's your turn.  What did you think?  


  1. I liked the book! I thought the 1st person x 4 was a different take, and I liked the sarcasm throughout. I know a lot of people get turned off by 1st person naration, but what can you do. I enjoyed it as a quick, easy, and at times funny read (although I did wish Jess would have just exited the story wayyy earlier). Thanks for the review!

  2. I thought it was OK, which is kind of how I've felt about every Nick Hornby book I've read. A good beach or airport read, but not the kind of book that I would necessarily recommend to others or have trouble putting down. The first person narration didn't bother me (although I admit that several times I had to stop and remind myself of who was narrating at that moment), but the content was pretty light for such a dark topic and the entire plot was pretty predictable. I started reading kind of expecting it to be that type of book (light read, fairly predictable, but still entertaining), so I still enjoyed it.


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