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How to be good - Nick Hornby

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      02.01.2010 10:43
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      Fantastic read, highly recommended

      ==Background:==

      I surprisingly enough was bored with all my mystery and thriller novels, so I decided this week to look for something different. I wanted a different kind of entertainment and I wanted a book that would both be interesting and hopefully quite funny as well. It was with that in mind that I searched the internet until I came across this book.

      ==About the author:==

      Nick Hornby is a very successful novelist. With his first three books Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and About a Boy all being not only being very popular but also they were transferred into films. He was born in Redhill, Surrey 1957 and now lives and works in Highbury in North London. In total he has written 7 fiction plus 6 non-fiction novels as well as a play and Novellas. In 2005 he was nominated for the Whitbread Prize for 'A Long Way Down.'

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      Katie Carr has never considered herself as a bad person, but her life is about to take an unusual direction following a conversation with her husband David. They have been married for many years and everything he says or does she finds annoying and frustrating. She has got to the stage now sitting in the Tesco Car Park that she asks him for a divorce.

      Katie has been a GP for many years and has lived in the main happily with David and their two children Molly and Tom. She has embarked on an affair with Stephen in the last few months, which she feels very guilty about, but she feels she no longer wants to be married to David. He by contrast works on a local paper writing amusing articles about what makes him angry and Katie now believes he embodies the man he is playing out for the paper i.e. Mr Angry.

      David tells Katie he will not allow her to divorce and suddenly starts to change his character. It starts with his back trouble being cured by a faith healer named Good News, much to Katie's disbelief. Soon he is spending time with this man and invites him to live with them while he looks for a new flat. This alters David from being angry to being kind, thoughtful and supportive and starts to drive Katie mad in a totally different way.

      He gives up his job and is now committed to help others. Seeing the majority of people efforts to help as inadequate. He without consulting Katie gives Tom's computer to a refuge and half of the children's toys. Then with Good News he embarks on his neighbourhood, seeing that many residents have spare rooms he decides they will have a party and he must convince them to share their homes with someone currently without one and living on the streets.

      ==My thoughts on this novel:==

      My general opinion of this book was it was a first class and highly enjoyable read.
      It was unexpected in many ways and always impressed me with both the quality of the authors writing and the story itself. I found I really looked forward to each instalment to find out what the next development was in this unusual but compelling lives of Katie and David.

      This is not my first experience of this author's work, which was one of the reasons I selected this one. About six years ago I read High Fidelity after a friend told me it was the story of my life. As I was once a second hand record seller too like the star of the book. I really enjoyed the authors perception, humour and style in that and when I saw this one I thought even if it was half as good it would still be a treat.

      Having identified I wanted a different type of novel and that it would be good to read another Nick Hornby book. I selected this one because I liked the concept behind it. Most of us aren't bad people and are similar in our outlook in life to Kate i.e. we will give to charity, help out any friend or family member and do the best for our children. But there is always a small part of us that thinks occasionally if we could be a little better, a little bit more thoughtful. That is basically what this book is about, what happens to a family when they decide to try this.

      I was immediately impressed by the summary on the inside cover of the book. From this you are immediately drawn into Katie's life. As it deals with ideas and concepts we all can relate to and think about. Here she is going through a kind of mid life crisis and she starts to question, whether being in the caring profession as a Doctor really makes her a good and kind person as she once believed it would.

      The book is always funny, sometimes in a subtle way that needs to really concentrate on the dialogue to appreciate it. But also sometimes it is just a quite ridiculously funny situation that has developed that we can all visualise. Either way this novel made me chuckle on many occasions and always gave me something to think about and to enjoy.

      However if I were to say to you this was just a funny book I would be selling it very short. It was far more than that, it was entertaining yes but it also made you question and think a little more about your own situation. It made me question if putting a few coins in a charity box does actually make any difference. Yes it makes me feel better about the luxury that I live in but surely I could do more to help other people too?
      This book was pushing that idea just that little bit further and the results of doing more and how it affects this family's life and whole structure.

      I found I immediately got into the story from Page 1 that it was written in not only a thought provoking style but also one in a way it was easy to relate to the characters within it. Being written in an attractive style, that shared Katie's feeling, thoughts and ideals really made not only her character come together but also made real sense in the ultimate journey of the story.

      After reading the novel I wondered what it would have been like if it had been written from this different perspective. I think it worked best from Katie's as it was her husband who initiated the biggest changes in their lives and it was funny to see how she dealt with and excepted some of his new ideas. While it might also have been interesting to see how the Children Tom and Molly felt about the motivations for change. But this again wouldn't have made it as funny as the changes affected both children differently and they were already funny with their reaction and the things they did as a result of them.

      The pace of this story was consistent for me. It was lively without being breathe takingly fast. There was always new changing developments to enjoy but never the same pace as you find in many Thrillers, that get pace gets quicker the further you read into them and by the conclusion you feel exhausted too. The pace was one that you could enjoy and one because the story was always changing you had were intrigued as well as interested what the outcomes would be.

      The story was very well thought out and took a variety of unusual twists and turns. Most I'm glad to say I never saw coming but because they were always very different I was always fascinated how the various members of the family would deal with them and what would happen next to them.

      There was a quality in all the author wrote that had me both involved in the story and fascinated as to how everything would work out at the end. And while I enjoyed the ending of the story, I would really liked to have seen what each member of the family and those involved in the story were up to say three months down the line when the dust had truly settled.

      What also helped make this such an enjoyable read was the well thought out characters the author employed. But not only the major characters but also even those who played a minor part were both funny and people we can recognise in others and really all had enough depth about them to return to the story if required, without any detrimental effect on it.

      Katie Carr is the novels lead character and the story is written through her eyes. She is an instantly like able character who is going through her own crisis. Believing that the grass may be greener elsewhere and feeling unhappy with the way her life is panning out. A situation I'm sure we can all relate to at sometime or another. I think she is easy to relate to and I liked her personality and found her outlook to life refreshing and funny.

      Her central role was well supported by her husband David. I like the way after seeing and with support from a Faith Healer his perspective on life totally changed. So much so that his long-suffering wife Kate never, knew what to expect from him next. It proved to be a very entertaining relationship and very amusing at the same time. I really liked their children's reaction to this ever changing relationship and how all this affected them but also changed them. As both children had interesting characters and also had the logic only children have and this made there reaction to all the changes very amusing and entertaining.

      The other main character was the Faith Healer Good News. Immediately he was a fascinating character, but I did not feel he played as big a role as he could of. As despite living with the family, the conversation was rarely directly involving him, he was more of a quiet influence for change with David. I think if his role had been expanded it would have made the relationship and the dynamics in the family less of a feature and made for not such an enjoyable story.

      The length of the book was for me a little short of what I would have liked. I would have preferred to go a little further with this amusing family and see what would happen to them next. As previously stated I would also have liked some kind of epilogue so that the reader can see what happened either three months or six months further down the line.

      This novel certainly made me think about the issues it raised and like Kate and David did consider my position on being good and what difference I could make to help others within my community. The writer obviously takes it to extremes and as a result makes all situations funnier.

      ==Conclusion:==

      This novel I really enjoyed. It was very amusing, well thought out and very well written story. There was a lot to it and it certainly made me think about the concept slightly differently. It was not as good as High Fidelity for me but still a cracking good read and one that I would certainly recommend to all.

      ==Other information:==

      Pages: 256
      Price: £5.99
      Publisher:Penguin
      ISBN-10: 0140287-19
      ISBN-13: 978-0140287011
      Year: 2005
      About the author: www.nickhornbybyblog.co.uk

      Thanks for reading my review.

      This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.

      @CPTDANIELS January 2010.

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        26.01.2009 14:00
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        Interesting topics, but just doesn't fulfil its potential

        No spoilers!

        This novel is Nick Hornby's fourth book.

        The plot goes that Kate Carr - a doctor, and therefore in her opinion, doing 'good' in the world is married to David, the self-proclaimed 'World's Angriest Man' - newspaper columnist who's negative personality has has a detrimental effect on their marriage. Close to divorce, David suddenly undergoes a transformation - he himself now wants to do 'good' in the world, but he takes this to the extreme. The book explores David's actions, the consequences and ultimately whether David's change can save their marriage.

        The writing is perfect, characters are well-drawn and believable - essential in a story where events are a bit on the wild side - convincing characters are needed to pull off this plot, but Hornby does this admirably. The dialogue is spot-on, there is some funny and witty lines, and the idea behind the plot is really interesting.

        There is only one criticism, to me, the story kind of peters out near the end. It feels as though Hornby didn't know how or where to end the story. It doesn't feel completed somehow - I felt it wasn't a satisfying ending. Although the book brings up some deep questions about relationships, about political stances, and about our own opinion of ourselves, it doesn't seem to attempt to answer them.

        Despite this, it was a good read, a book that will keep you hooked to the end, even if that end is slightly disappointing.

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          22.07.2008 20:07

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          A quick read

          I picked up "How to be good" very recently and couldn't put it down. It is definitely a good book to pick up on a day off and get the kettle on and simply keep reading until you're finished. It is the story of a Doctor called Kate, who has an affair after her husband changes from being "The Angriest Man in Holloway" - a persona he has for a column he writes in a local paper - to becoming good with the help of a spiritual healer. The healer moves in and everything explodes out exponentially from there. The story concentrates on Kate's husband changing his life, Kate and her lover and the wackiness that ensues from the lifestyle change. There is also a small cameo from a character from High Fidelity. Not Nick Hornby's best book by a long shot but an entertaining way to while away a day, preferably with no interruptions whatsoever.

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          03.04.2007 13:01
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          Delightful take on relationships and a dying marriage.

          This is a delightful little book however it must be said that it will not be to everyone’s tastes. This is the second book by Nick Hornby that I have read, the first as Fever Pitch which was based upon his own, quite understandable, obsession with all things Arsenal and how that obsession impacts upon basic human relationships. In How to be Good he is once again on the subject of relationships however this time the story is told from the female point of view.

          I always imagine it must be a bit harder for a writer when they write from the perspective of the opposite gender however in this book Hornby makes a pretty good job of it, having said that as I’m male maybe he is just confirming my own perceptions of how the female mind works.

          The central premise of the book raises quite a nice theoretical question. Imagine you are in a marriage that is failing horribly, you are married to a man who by his own omission and the newspaper column he writes is “the angriest man in Holloway”, you are having an affair and your children no longer stimulate the maternal feelings they once did. What then happens when you ask for a divorce and your husband refuses, not only that he decides to fundamentally change from being an angry man to being one who does nothing but good deeds and suddenly becomes the attentive husband you wished for. Suddenly you are no longer the good person (forget the affair that was justified), being a doctor is no longer enough when your husband is seeking to wipe out homelessness in London, being the voice of reason when you are unable to overcome the logic of doing good is no longer sustainable as an argument. What if the non angry, good deed doing husband you wished for is not actually the thing of your dreams but potentially the thing that could change you life for the worse.

          This is the dilemma facing Katie Carr a doctor in North London, wife of David and mother to two children. The story then charts in an often subtly funny way the events that unfold after she asks David for a divorce and he in turn finds himself visiting the strange faith healer hippie called GoodNews.

          This is a pleasant enough book which I did find quite compelling to read. I could relate to the fact that it was based in an area of London that I used to live in and certainly some of the characters were similar to those that I would have mixed with at that time although they would have been the younger versions before kids arrive, but still that professional middle class type of person who chooses to live in a more edgy Islington rather than fleeing to the suburbs of leafy Hertfordshire.

          At its most basic level the book is about relationships and how people sometimes just accept the life they lead without really questioning it. It is not meant to be a feel good book, there is a lot of friction within the book however there are also some very funny lines as well which is one of the strengths of Hornby writing, the ability to capture the self defacing humour of the British. The main character Katie goes through a huge amount of soul searching in the book and Hornby is skilled at getting across her confusion and total desolation at times as well as always offering a glimmer of hope that things will turn out fine in the end.
          I liked the range of characters in the book and whilst Hornby rarely takes the time to paint stimulating visual pictures of his characters he provides enough detail alongside the dialogue they use for the reader to create a pretty clear picture of how each character looks, GoodNews is easy to picture as is Katie husband and children however even though she is the main character the one person I struggled to get a clear mental image of is Katie herself, this may be to do with the number of contradictions in her character, she is confident enough to have an affair so would appear at least somewhat attractive but then she has such low self esteem at times that I found the mental image I had of her changing the more I read of the book.

          There is a nice moral questioning tone to this book, it looks at relationships and people who are far from perfect, it also runs with a theme about the caring out of good acts and the sacrifice that this will make on not only the individual caring out the deed but also potentially those close to them. A lot of David acts of kindness have a direct impact on his two children and they provide polar views on whether the acts are good or not, this mini battle between the two children, one appearing both selfish but sensible whilst the other appears both caring and patronising makes for a nice sub plot as their views are a more extreme clear cut version of their parents thoughts.

          I personally enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it however some people may find it a bit slow moving and frustrating at times, indeed I did find myself wanting to scream out for someone to make a decisive decision at times in the book. It stands up pretty well to Fever Pitch but is not as good in my opinion however I’m bias due to the Arsenal connection making it a more interesting subject matter.

          Published by QPD I got my copy in a swap on readitswapit however the rrp is £7.99 but it can be obtained new from Amazon for £6.39 or from a penny in the new and used section.


          Thanks for reading and rating my review.

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            05.07.2005 11:32
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            Avoid like the plague.........

            How to be Good by Nick Hornby was described as “Hilarious, sophisticated and compulsive” by The Sunday Times and was thrust upon me by the wife after I complained of being bored on the tube to and from work. She gave me a choice of two books, but How to be Good won as I had rather enjoyed Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch and although it had remarkably sad undertones, was in parts a very funny book.

            The book follows the life of Dr Katie Carr, mother to Tom and Molly and the long suffering (in her eyes) wife of many years of David described in his newspaper column as the "Angriest Man in Holloway." Not only is Katie desperately unhappy in her marriage, he truly believes that divorce is the answer, embarks upon an affair and then……..

            I can’t really leave the plot there can I? It doesn’t sound interesting at all. After asking for a divorce Katie begins to realise that being single again, telling her children she is leaving them and setting off on a new life simply isn’t going to be as she had fantasised and decides to have another go at working things out with her points scoring husband.

            Her husband David, “The Angriest Man in Holloway” knows Katie inside and out, can manipulate her without even thinking about it, can read her expressions and knows how to make her tick. Out of spite, rather than attending a doctor when he is laid up with back pain he visits a faith healer called GoodNews who pushes David onto a path of enlightenment. Unfortunately for Katie, David wants to drag her along with him and so the story continues with conflicts with the in-laws, taking in the homeless and David’s plan for everyone to give away their earnings to feed the world!

            At 244 pages this is not a particularly long book and I actually managed to read it in around 10 hours but the one thing that struck me as I read and read was that it all seemed so repetitive. David would do something to make himself feel good and in turn make the world a better place and then Katie would ramble on about how empty she always felt. As the book is from the female perspective and written by a male, I just get the impression he didn’t know how to feel or empathise with his main character. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fabulous piece of writing, it kept me hooked and I wanted to know what scheme David would think up next, and how they sorted out, if indeed they did sort out their marital problems, but it just lacked any sort of cutting direction that made me think “WOW” and I found myself only laughing at most 5 times during reading.

            Throughout the book the characters aren’t developed further than brief overviews and then it is left up to the reader whether you like, hate or empathise with Katie, David and the family. Personally, I empathised with David prior to his enlightenment. He was funny, sarcastic and an all round decent kind of guy.

            After reaching the end I found myself saying out loud “Is that it.” I get the impression that Hornby just couldn’t be arsed by the time he reached the end and decided to call it a day. I wish he hadn’t, this could have been so much more. I’m disappointed and feel robbed. Can I have 10 hours of my life back please?

            NOT RECOMMENDED

            ISBN 0-140-28701-9
            £6.99
            Published by Penguin Fiction

            Thanks for taking the time to read and rate.

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              03.09.2002 02:25
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              I did not particularly enjoy this book, though I shall give some plot detail before I tell you why. This story is written from Dr. Katie Carr’s (no relation) perspective (which, I imagine, is very insightful and accurate coming from a man - at least its what I’d imagine some women to think like. Indeed, Libby Purves of The Times says, “Hornby writes astonishingly well from a women’s perspective”. For this, Hornby is to be admired.) Also, our author has a razor sharp wit and cynicism that is drawn out from its character’s mundane and ‘normal’ lives. Anyway, Katie dumps her nasty husband David from a carpark in Leeds, admits to cheating on him, whereby David meets a man who changes his and her life forever. To be honest, that’s as far as the synopsis can go. It takes just 35 pages for David, the snarling, spiteful conversationalist-bastard, to meet DJ Goodnews. His back, his personality and later their lives, are changed quite dramatically The next 208 pages are devoted to quite how this affects Katie herself, her relationship with David and the family nuclei. In general, the book reads very well (I read it all it 4 sittings), is sometimes funny and witty, while asking its readers consider their own relationship, personal values and moralistic attitudes. For instance, David’s idea of donating half of his children’s possessions, especially those in duplicate, seems quite reasonable and ethical. Also, the way Katie sees her relationship, “We have sex with each other [David] because we agreed not to have sex with anyone else”, questions our reasons for ‘being’ with a partner. The issues of poverty, suburban upper-middle-class snobbery, tedious banal existence and simply, what constitutes being ‘good’, is all crammed in. Yet Hornby examines these as exhaustively as the character David’s (flip-a-coin) personality transition is believable.
              My particular problem with the book lies in its start and end. Yes, the prose and its characters are accessible, and the story does raise interesting philosophies on what is an acceptable way of life and attitude (see bottom), in a consumerist, selfish world. But Hornby does not resolve these issues; the duo of do-gooders alienates Katie and divides her family and friends. So what are we left with? Nick Hornby leaves us with unbearable cynicism, glib metaphors and omits any sense of love or devotion. I would like to think that relationships in the world aren’t as desolate and weak as Katie and David’s; even when she warms to his and their new lifestyle, ultimately there’s “nothing out there at all”. I would almost seem reasonable to say this book was about ‘How to be good’ except there isn’t enough on show to say so. Ultimately, ‘How to be good’ doesn’t say a lot about very much at all. Would make a good newBBC serialization in a dumbed- down way. DJ Goodnews "But just because a lot of people don't have a problem with something, it doesn't mean that they are right, does it? I mean a lot of people used to think that Slavery was OK, but you know. They were wrong, weren't they?"

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                17.07.2002 19:04
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                D’you think that Nick Hornby will ever write a book that is not set in North London? How To Be Good opens with a sentence about being in a car park in Leeds but after that everything in the book happens within a couple of miles of Hornby’s beloved Highbury – again. I personally wish he’d move his stories away to another place. I know you are supposed to write about what you know but surely Hornby has ventured beyond Archway once or twice in his life. Here we go again, with another bunch of characters who live and work in Holloway. For the first time, Hornby has decided to write from a female characters point of view – Katie Carr, mother, wife and GP who, according to her own complex moral calculations, is entitled to an affair because she is basically a good person. Her work sees her caring for people and at home she has to put up with a lot. Her marriage to David – the self-styled Angriest Man in Holloway – is far from great and they spend most of the time arguing and trying to score points off each other. Hornby’s gift for dialogue shines through here, as he gets the tedium and irritation of domestic rows exactly right – the sort that spark off over something trivial like who should put the rubbish out, go round and round in circles and then escalate into all out war. David is portrayed as a grumpy, sarcastic 40-something bloke. If you knew him socially, you’d probably quite like him for his caustic wit and cynical take on life, but to put up with it on a daily basis as his family do, is draining. So Kate tells him she wants a divorce, although she surmises that she doesn’t want anyone else, just a different David, a new David. Well, whaddya know? Be careful what you wish for as the saying goes, as David undergoes a complete character transformation, following his encounter with faith healer DJ Good News. He stops being angry and sarcastic, and starts questioning the way he cou
                ld make an improvement to his life and help make the world a better place (man). Katie is far from delighted at this change in her husband, especially when it means moving the wonderfully monikered DJ Good News into their house, and giving away their Sunday lunch to the homeless. David’s efforts to be good include giving up work because writing a column as the Angriest Man in Holloway is not conducive to this new way of life, and setting up a project to get everyone in their street to give up their spare room to a homeless person. Surprisingly, this actually gets off the ground, and enjoys a degree of success. Kate starts questioning her own outlook to life, which is somewhat smug and self-satisfied; wanting to help but not at the sacrifice of any of her own comforts in life. How To Be Good does cause you to question your own values and makes you wonder what does it mean to be good, and am I doing it? That said, there were times when I probably should have been pondering such questions but instead I was wondering who they’d get to play Kate when this is undoubtedly made into a film. (Your suggestions are welcome BTW. Helen Baxendale perhaps, though she may be a bit on the young side?) How to Be Good is an enjoyable read but it is not without its faults. There’s something lacking from this story, the plot doesn’t quite strike the right chord and a major suspense of disbelief is required to accept David’s change in personality. Other things too, like Kate’s affair and her feelings towards it, don’t ring true. As usual, for Hornby, the pages are packed full of metaphors and analogies, some you read and think, “Yes! That’s exactly it!” But others are so clunky, they make you want to groan out loud. He wants to take note from one of his own characters, who tries to compare dating guys to christmas shopping, and tails off when she realises the analogy is not working… Kate̵
                7;s two children, Tom and Molly, are both believable – Molly as an irritating, priggy do-gooder; Tom as a typical ten year old boy. He is one of the most likeable characters, sulky and truculent but also forthright, blunt and therefore very funny. The kids’ conversation is spot on, perfectly capturing the way that pre-teen boys communicate in particular, with a thoughtful explanation for the uninitiated on the way that “Doh!” and “Der!” differ in meaning. (One is meant to convey stupidity in oneself, the other is meant to signify stupidity expressed by someone else.) There’s lots of reference to popular culture, which helps make the characters seem a bit more believable; just from knowing that David likes Seinfeld and Tony Hancock, it tells me more about him than a paragraph of descriptive prose or another wobbly analogy ever could. A good read, Hornby’s style is easy to follow. Fluid prose, amusing dialogue and painfully accurate portrayals of family relationships more than make up for those awkward metaphors and the Holloway environs (again).

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                  15.06.2002 00:21
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                  If you?re in the mood for a laugh then make time to read Nick Hornby?s latest, How To Be Good. A tale of marital disillusionment that results in a hilarious reassessment of the central relationship in the book between Katie and her husband David. The story is told through the eyes of Katie and much has been written about whether Hornby has captured the female psyche convincingly. I think he does carry it off but I found myself concentrating on this rather than the story when I started reading, eventually immersing myself in the book. I think he is helped by the fact that he uses role reversal here, Katie being the main breadwinner of the family while David writes his columns for the paper from home and sees to their two children. Hornby?s great gift is writing about the mundane and everyday stuff in hilarious fashion. His writing is brilliant and while not my favourite book of his, I think I did find it the funniest, laughing out loud at several passages. For me there are two main themes; firstly, the relationship between the two central characters and their expectations of each other and their relationship and secondly, the examination of human kindness. Katie realises what a miserable git she is married to. She embarks on a half-hearted affair that leads to her confession and David?s conversion. This latter is achieved with the help of a colourful character known as DJ Goodnews, one of life?s eccentrics. Having seen the light David goes from being Mr. Angry of Holloway to an attentive, considerate and compassionate individual, intent on saving his marriage. Unfortunately for Katie, so strange and alien does she find his behaviour, rather than bringing them closer together she becomes suspicious of his motives and finds herself mistrusting him. The nature of the change in David forces the couple to examine what makes them good people and how far a person should go to attain goodness. Katie having considered herself always to
                  have been a good and genuine person (she?s a doctor isn?t she?), finds herself, by way of a reaction to her husband?s over the top ?goodness?, saying and doing things she wouldn?t have before and hating herself for it. The other aspect of Hornby?s writing that I love are the children in his books, fantastic personalities. This is a great gift he has and the children in this book are no exception, great characters in their own right and very funny. As observers of the adults around them, you feel their voices are the only sane and coherent ones, at times. In this book Hornby explores the materialistic world we live in, while poverty and homelessness exist on our doorsteps. He examines attitudes to material goods and reactions to having to give these up. He looks at men and women and the reality of how difficult it is to keep a relationship going. Is the book heavy going? No way, it is very, very funny.

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                    09.06.2002 23:06
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                    I have previously found Nick Hornby to be a hit and miss author. I enjoyed Fever Pitch; I thought I enjoyed High Fidelity, until I re-read it and the book's innate shallowness shone through, if shallowness can shine? I found About a Boy to be even more shallow, crammed full of metaphors and clichés that were supposed to be funny, but left me feeling that here was a book that was glib. However, all three were well written and supremely easy to read. Why then did I read How to be Good? I suppose its Booker long list nomination and some favourable reviews in newspapers that I respect, persuaded me and after all in all of Hornby's previous books, there has been that huge spark of potential present. How to be Good focuses on the dilemma of the privileged Western World. We do not struggle to feed or dress ourselves, we seem to fill our needs with commercialism and well there seems to be a void. To be honest, commercialism has not bought about universal happiness. The theme is similar to Fight Club, but dealt with in a very different way, and perhaps to How to be Good's credit an altogether more subtle way. Obviously this void is not present in the third world or even the deprived in our own country, but we are talking about the privileged people in the western world here. David Carr is the "angriest man in Holloway". A real cynic and negative man, everything just seems to piss him off, well everything that is not really that important. His wife and the first person voice of the novel, Katie, is a Doctor, a kind GP and fed up with her cynic husband and to some extent her two children, Tom and Molly. Katie suffers from an empty hole in her spirit, get up go to work, come home to an angry and bitter man, go to sleep and so on. In true suburban London style, both David and Katie are liberal Londoners, liberal of the political persuasion. Intellectual, fair minded, free thinking......but are they really good? <
                    br><br>Into their life arrives DJ GoodNews, a faith healer who cures David's bad back and their daughter's eczema, but he brings more than this to the Carr family. David has a personality change, he becomes a do-gooder - a do-gooder in the practical sense, why do we need all these consumer products when some people are so deprived? Why can't we do more to help the homeless? Why shouldn't people realise how lucky they really are? But is this good? So there we are, the book is clearly talking about important principles in our contemporary world, it is an attack on our consumer values that we hold so dear, the I must have the latest Prada bag or Dior make up. I must have satellite TV, a DVD player an MP3 and 6 computers. The question the book asks is why? Wouldn't some of this excess wealth be better channelled elsewhere? Why can't one person say, sod this it is the government's fault, what can one person do, I am going to set an example? Well David along with DJ GoodNews embarks on a two man crusade to save people from their own greed and comfortableness and much to Katie's chagrin she would rather have her angry, cynical but funny husband back. Is David good and Katie bad? Katie is a doctor after all, doesn't that make her good by definition? Hornby points to the demise of religion for this crisis in people's definition of good, nobody goes to Church and most people have realised that religion does not really hold the answers, there is guidance, but how much of it is relevant to today? So far so good, a novel about how can people be good in the face of so much embarrassment and prejudice. You decide to shun consumerism and see what your friends make of you, especially if you work in the City. Moreover, it examines what is our definition of good, how far does an individual need to go to be good and how practical is this idealistic standpoint? But Hornby still falls down in places.
                    He seems to think that you can only amuse if you can fit as many metaphors on the page as possible, amusing metaphors at that. Some hit the mark, but ultimately some of the metaphors seem forced and detract from the flow of the book. Furthermore, Hornby fails to develop some of his excellent social themes, he builds them up to the point when he can really discuss serious issues and then just winds them up, just like that. In particular in this book, he just cuts off the discussion of the homeless problem, without really examining it in depth. So in the end the feeling of unfulfilled potential is still prevalent in How to be Good as it was in About a Boy, but this time Hornby saves himself with a wonderfully thoughtful ending where he pulls all the ideas together in a rather perceptive conclusion. The writing is superb, (when you remove the continual and unnecessary use of metaphors) Hornby is a master of easy flowing prose that draws you into the narrative and the characters, some of the exchanges with the children were priceless, capturing that wonderful childhood innocence and intelligence. Furthermore, there are times when How to be Good makes you laugh, there is no doubting that Hornby is one of those observant comic writers that can capture perfectly aspects of our society that when reduced down to their most basic level are in fact rather amusing. How to be Good is far more reflective and philosophical than anything Hornby has written before. ""If you start examining your prejudices carefully there will soon be nothing left of you."" ""But just because a lot of people don't have a problem with something, it doesn't mean that they are right, does it? I mean a lot of people used to think that Slavery was OK, but you know. They were wrong, weren't they?"" In the end you have applaud Hornby for tackling such a difficult subject in such an easy going and easy
                    to read way. He has put some important ideas into the mainstream and hopefully he will have made some greedy pointless people examine their own lives and cut back on what they perceive that they need. How to be Good is thoughtful, amusing in places, observant, perceptive, full of ideas and a very well written easy read. If Hornby had managed to avoid his clichés, metaphors and glibness then this would have been a book that may have reached classic status, as it is, it is just a good thoughtful novel, that rises just above the average. Published by Penguin. ISBN 0-140-28701-9. 244 pages long. Priced £6.99, but still currently available for half price plus postage and packaging from http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/tg/feature/-/296329/ref=mk_p3_h_1_4/202-325627 9-9823833, which for £3.49 you cannot go far wrong. Further details of all penguin books are available from www.penguin.com.

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                      14.05.2002 15:33
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                      Normally I love shopping at airports, especially Manchester. There’re good shops that always seem to have things that high street shops don’t, there’s the buzz from seeing the 50kg bars of toblerone (even though I don’t like the stuff) and there’s the nice warm and excited feeling in your tummy because you know that, if all goes well, you’ll be on a plane soaring across the skies in a couple of hours. Sometimes, however, it all goes wrong. At Manchester last autumn, waiting to fly to the States, I was on my own because, erm, I was travelling alone. When I’m alone at airports I shop. And shop. And shop some more, because there’s no partner / parent / sibling there to stop me. In Waterstones in Terminal 1 they had a “Special! Only available to fliers! Wonderfully unique!” edition of this book. Therein lay the dilemma. I enjoyed High Fidelity, and loved About A Boy, and the parts of How To Be Good that I’d read novelized in the Times had been fantastic. Plus, this was the paperback version. But, it wasn’t the mainstream paperback version. It was a limited edition £9.99 version which, in my book, is almost as bad as a hardback. Hardbacks aren’t me – they look funny on the shelf for a start – and this version, although softback, was also big. Too big. So, with a heavy heart, I stopped myself buying it, and bought “Posh and Becks” instead. Ha. Smart move, not. 6 months later we were in Tesco when, bam! , I found myself staring at the standard release – and proper sized – version of Hornby’s latest. It was £3.84 and I had to buy it. So I did it. And I read it while I should have been revising. And now that my exam is over I’m writing this for you. For the first time, Hornby has told his story from a woman’s point of view and surprisingly, it’s just as good as the male viewpoint ones. On the very first page we are plunged into th
                      e middle of the lives of Katie, David and their family, as she sits in a carpark, hundreds of miles from her London home, and tells him she wants a divorce. Only some of the usual things you’d expect to follow such an announcement happen, but as the story progresses in leaps and bounds, hurtling towards a most unusual but none the less satisfying conclusion, there are numerous twists and turns. The story centers around Katie, middle class GP, Radio 4 listener, mother of two and all round Good Girl. Katie, though, has been feeling somewhat less than Good lately. There’s the naughty nookie with a naked stranger for a start, not to mention the deliberate disregard for her depressed brother’s life, her almost undying hatred for her spouse and the pure contempt with which she views far too many of her patients. Just when she’s about to break away from it all, something happens which makes her reconsider. David, her until now self-centered hatred filled journalist husband, goes to see an alternative therapist and is becomes nice and good over night, and Katie just doesn’t know what to think. Through the dozen or so chapters that follow, we are dragged along on a roller coaster ride with David and his new best friend, the aptly name GoodNews, as they plot to save the world. It’s not a nice funfilled plan you see: it’s a plot. From lecturing his neighbours on their duty to take in street kids to giving away his kid’s toys, David is clearly shown as a man on a mission. Things like this don’t last for ever, and eventually things begin to crack. Sceptisism begins to emerge, and with it come worries and fears until the life and belief system they’ve worked so hard to build up slows begins to crumble and soon comes crashing to the ground. Concerned as she is about the affect this might have on the kids who have lived through their father’s transformation the good guy and almost back again, Katie can̵
                      7;t help but sit and smirk. This is one of the main reasons I liked the book – the characters are so easy to identify with, right down to the schadenfreude aspect. Hornby is a good writer. No, I take that back, Hornby is a great writer, and this is a great book. The story is compulsively readable, the characters undeniably lifelike. If you’ve ever known a child like Molly (so god damn priggy that you want to beat her up), a chap like Monkey (in a nutshell, not what he seems) or a fellow like GoodNews (Kooky with a capital K), or ever had the smug I’m better than you feelings shared by Katie, then this is the book for you. It’s a hilarious tongue in cheek look at today’s society. Or at least the part composed of middle aged, married London doctors. There are as usual with Hornby books, pop culture references that help bring the book to life – you’ve heard of the bands and films in the top 10 in the book because they’re still in the top 10 now. I couldn’t get enough of it, and I almost wish I’d bought it back in October instead of Morton’s meager offering. Believe me, there’s no comparison. ********* How To Be Good Published by Penguin ISBN 0 140 28701 9 £6.99 rrp (but you'd be mad to pay that) ~13 x 20 cm – just the right size :p

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                        14.04.2002 18:50
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                        • "forgetable charqacters"

                        Y’know when you first buy a book, you sit with a hope and glint in your eye that this one may take away a couple of hours a day for a week or so, well when I bought ‘How to be Good’ I had a quiet hope that this time Nick Hornby would be able to write something that could last me more than a couple of days – how wrong I was, its less than 48 hours since I started the book – and well, I just finished it. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I have a dislike of Nick Hornby, in fact if I was being honest I’d say that theres only 3 authors that I’d buy a book by solely because they’re involved in it – and Nick Hornby comes way above Stephen King and Alex Garland any day. For you see I can judge how much I enjoyed reading a book by how long it takes me to read it, the longer it takes me the more dull it is to me – and How to be Good broke my record reading time by a whole 2 days, so it has to be, well, errr, good doesn’t it? So first things first a little bit about the story-line – the biggest selling point of this title was that Nicks done this one from the female point of view rather than the male and well, to be honest, it’s a classic Hornby tale, Katies a doctor so automatically she qualifies as a good person or at least that’s what she feels in her mind, but shes also a bad person in her mind as well, especially when we open the tale to her laying in bed with a man she hardly knows less than 24 hours after telling her husband she wants a divorce. But she has a reason though as David (her Husband) is apparently ‘the angriest man in Holloway’ and has been writing a book for the last x amount of years which in her eyes is genuinely awful. As the story progresses we get to learn that David really is the kind of person that Katie has described – he tries to get one-upmanship with the kids, is obnoxious and gets ang
                        ry about the stupid things in life like Old People on buses and almost every famous person (apart from a couple of comedians like Tony Hancock and Jerry Seinfeld – they’re geniuses apparently), and hes the kind of guy you want to hate. Katies described her feelings over all this as ‘she doesn’t want to leave David’ she wants ‘a new David’. As the book goes on the reader then learns the great tale that you should be careful what you wish for – it may come true. As the story progresses we start to see a dramatic change in David – he buys tickets to a musical that Katie wants to see, hes considerate of other people, he gives money to homeless people and most importantly he starts to pay attention to Katies wants and needs in life, so much so that she finds she doesn’t want to divorce her husband any more. Of course when someone you care about changes that much you start to wonder why they’ve gone through this metamorphosis and before long David tells her – hes been seeing a faith healer to help with his bad back and hes kinda helped him some more with his emotional problems – the very fact of this is absurd as David never takes any type of treatment unless its dangerous to pregnant women and small babies (aka drugs), but its true – and whats even more absurd about it is that the Drs name is DJ GoodNews, a Dr who charges £200 for one 5 minute consultancy and doesn’t use any known medical practices, this as you can probably guess is a cause of friction between David and his GP wife. This friction is further increased when a couple of days later David decides to take Molly their 8-year-old daughter to GoodNews in a hope of curing her eczema and surprise surprise – hes healed her. Before long David comes home with a request for Katie – can GoodNews stay there as hes about to be evicted from his ‘surgery’ and needs a place to
                        stay for a couple of nights – little did Katie know that this couple of nights would expand to months and induce an even stronger change in David as he takes in homeless people and starts to care a little too much about people less fortunate than himself. So that’s the basics of the storyline (and believe me as much as I’ve given a lot of information away – theres a lot more in the story) and how does the book feel? Well…. Although I said it was classic Nick Hornby (and it is) I feel a little cheated by this one, the Storylines there – but theres not as much building of it as there are in Nicks 3 previous releases, in Fever Pitch we seemed to go along at a slow and steady pace gradually building the characters up as we went through each of Nicks tales, that’s not here in ‘How to be Good’, in High Fidelity there was a strong underlying current in the story at all times – once again that’s not here, and let me tell you this one ain’t no ‘About A Boy’ either. However having said that I bet you’re all expecting me to say that I hated the book aren’t you?, well hates such a strong word and it’s the type of thing I save for Terry Pratchett books, and although I don’t feel that Nick Hornby has lived up to his abilities here – its definitely still a good book, just not a great one. One of the things I’ve always liked about Nicks writing is that he won’t go into great detail explaining what things look like in the book – you’re left to your imaginations as to what people and characters really do look like and that’s the kind of thing I like to see in a book – if I wanted to know what the character looks like I’d have waited for the film release (and believe me there probably will be one – all previous 3 books have had film releases), but I’m happy to let my mind do the talking when I
                        ’m reading a book. The Characters hes given us to work with well – its hard to get to understand them, as theres very little building of the characters throughout the book, they all just seem to be ‘there’ – in fact the only character I feel any affection towards is Tom, the 10 year old son of the family, he reminds me of me a little bit when I was that age – and in fact he probably reminds everyone of a 10 year old boy they know or once knew. The only other character that sticks in my memory is a bit-parter – his name is Dick and he likes to make compilation tapes, sound familiar to all you Nick Hornby fans?, well if you’re thinking the same thing I am Nicks obviously paying homage to his biggest success ‘High Fidelity’ as it seems too much of a coincidence to be someone else. So then what do I think of it overall?, I liked it but I also disliked it – if you’re a hardened Hornby fan you’ll find that like with myself – it won’t even last 48 hours from cover to cover – if you’re a newcomer to Nicks writing I’d really recommend you started off with High Fidelity and worked from there, but then its all up to you, what we have in total is a genuinely good read that does have some laugh out loud (not LOL) moments – its just not up to the standard I’ve grown to expect from Mr.Hornby.

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                          20.03.2002 21:22
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                          • "put off to people who may want to follow charity"

                          I read ‘Fever Pitch’ not that long ago. I started off expecting it to be a bit boring, as I am not a football fan, but I found it was a really good book and I really liked the style. Since then I have read ‘High Fidelity’, although I haven’t seen the film and then finally this one. I had high expectations of this book after thoroughly enjoying the others – was I disappointed? <The plot> We meet Katie, the main character in middle age. She has a good job (she’s a doctor, ie. A good person), a husband and two young children. However all is not as it should be. She has just had an affair on account of her husband being totally boring and having the job of the ‘Angriest man in Holloway’, which means he has to shout and get moody all the time. So she goes away for a bit, staying with her lover, whilst she tells her husband in a fit of rage that she wants a divorce. ‘Hang on’, she thinks ‘this shouldn’t be happening, I’m a good person!’. When she returns, her husband is completely changed. When he always used to find something to complain about, he starts seeing the good in people, and actually becoming nice. You would think that she would be happy about this, but instead she is highly suspicious. He used to be the type of man who hated the homeless, yet he gives away £80 pounds on the spur on the moment to a child on the streets. We finally find the cause of this – he has met a new-age healer called GoodNews, who has somehow sucked out all of the badness from his life. Finally GoodNews moves in, and he and David (the husband) become totally obsessed with being good and changing the world. They set up a scheme in which people have to take in a homeless kid, nevertheless this doesn’t go quite to plan. In the end, they remain changed, and David is still obsessed with being good, but GoodNews goes and they finally don’t get a divorce (sorry, I know I&
                          #8217;ve given it away, but I could tell the ending from a mile off). I found the story fairly believable, but it wasn’t hugely exciting – but then I am a teenage girl rather than a middle aged woman. <The setting> The story is set in London, but we don’t really get much of a taste on what it is like. Most scenes take place either in the home or at the surgery, and there isn’t much of an attempt to make it strictly a London book – if we weren’t otherwise told, it could be anywhere. What I did think was good was all the references to popular culture in the past years – Ali G, Sclub7 et al. This will either give a sense of time to future generations or just be really dated! <The characters> The main character, Katie, began to really annoy me after a while. She was so sensible (well, if you count having an affair as sensible), and seemed to have boring views – as though she doesn’t like change. I liked David and GoodNews’ characters because they seemed naïve and childlike in a way, and of course because they were trying (well not succeeding very well!) so change the world for a better way. The children can be quite annoying, the daughter is a goody-goody who always goes along with what her father says, and the son is pessimistic and cynical to all that happens. <The writing style> The writing style is clear and easy to follow, and I liked the references to popular culture. It doesn’t challenge the reader in anyway, however, which means that it can get a bit boring to read sometimes. This is really a bedtime book. I don’t think that description is used enough either, I didn’t really get a good enough idea of what any of the characters looked like, or the setting. <What is the effect of the novel on the reader? > This is obviously a novel written to make you thing about the things that you take for granted, and we are suppo
                          sed to take this on and thing about what WE could do to help the less-fortunate. But I went away thinking ‘why bother?’. The vaguely negative outcome may be more realistic, but I thought it was pessimistic and a put off to anyone who would have these ideas.

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                            07.03.2002 18:05
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                            We all want to be good citizens don’t we. You know, donating money to Children in need every year, helping old ladies out with a seat at the bus shelter, you may even spare 50p to give to someone begging in your local subway. For some people, being good is not just a lifestyle choice, it’s a job too. Look at firefighters, police officers, teachers, and of course doctors. They are good people from nine to five. Helping people is what they do. So if there so many of these good people floating about our streets, then why on earth do we have so many problems? The above question is one which is tackled in Nick Hornby’s latest offering, ‘How to be good’. Following the story of Katie, a London doctor and mother to a nuclear household, HTBG tests these classic ideas of ‘goodness’ that our society holds so dear. Hornby portrays them in such a way however that we begin to question not only society’s moral codes, but also our own personal viewpoint on life. Never before has a book actually had such a profound effect on me, to the extent that I have taken a decision, however subtly to alter some opinions of how we judge ourselves and others in our daily lives. The plot itself revolves around Katie’s home life, her husband David and their two children, Tom and Molly. You would be forgiven for thinking that this book is likely to turn itself into a suburban drama, and therefore be nothing new. Hornby (as in all his books) manages to skew this ‘ordinary’ situation in a way that only a true artist can. The obsessive quality that has been prevalent in so much of Hornby’s former work comes to light as we see Katie frantically trying to convince herself that she is one of these ‘good’ people, even as she is she having an affair that she know risks destroying her whole family. The revelation of this affair as predicted causes shockwaves throughout her house, affecting the b
                            ehaviour of her children and more dramatically her husband who Katie regards as humourless, sour and brutal, her justification to herself to have the affair. What does one do then if the cause of your infidelities suddenly reforms himself and becomes the living embodiment of the good samaritan? It is at this jucntion that the book really comes alight. David, her reformed and now homeless saving husband becomes an object of annoyance not just for the lead character, but also for the reader, meaning pangs of guilt for all involved as David never tries to do anything but good. There are homeless people out there, and David has a spare room. Why shouldn’t they help them out? I found myself saying the words ‘Just …because’ a lot, and instantly felt bad. What is it about us all that we are so closed off to what happens on our very doorsteps? Hornby writes with vigour and skill, portraying a female character in the first person throughout, without once sounding like an insensitive chap. You could argue that his perception of the female psyche is already clearly demonstrated in his other books, which deal with male-female relationships, but never before has gone as far as to tackle head on the problems that a woman may face in the breakdown of a relationship. It is all handled extremely well. The characters are extremely well drawn, my personal favourites being Tom & Molly, the children. Hornby uses them to increase the tension during arguments, and provide light relief, as we see the two parents drawing battle lines behind their two kids who neatly fall on either side of the Mother/Father divide when it comes to loyalty. Another good character is DJ Goodnews who is a spiritual healer who becomes a temporary member of the family as David starts to carve out his ‘new’ life. His new age enthusiasm and pierced eyebrows are a real source of irritation for our main character and the battle between them for David
                            217;s support is extremely well devised. Like Hornby’s other books, ‘How to be good’ forces you to examine yourself in a new light, but this time, it really cuts to the chase. In the past I was asking myself such questions as – Does my support for football suggest that I am somehow shying from more important commitments? Now I am asking – Am I a good person? If there was a heaven (which I don’t believe in) would I get a ticket?. It says something for an author that you come away from their work feeling this way. In a recent poll by the BBC, the nation was asked 'If you had to choode a book for everyone to read in order to encurage discussion, what would you choose'. Despite only being about for six months, this shot in at number 4 (Mr Potter was nowhere in sight, the winner was catch 22). I think that this says something about the way that the book has been received by the public. As far as I am aware the book is only out in hardback at present, but is due for it’s paperback release soon. It is a real page turner and I managed to finish it within a few days (for my reading speed, that’s like lightning). I would definitely recommend it. A final note for Hornby fans- there is a nice little cameo hidden in the middle for a previous Hornby character – I won’t spoil it (and it might give you another reason to read it), but it’s pleasing to know he’s getting on okay…...

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                              08.10.2001 20:20
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                              I bought "How to be good" for my husband, and waited patiently until he'd read it. It wasn't easy, but that's the sort of thing that good people do..... or is it? Katie Carr is a doctor, she believes in being good, she tries to do the right thing, but she has no plans about changing the world. She is a long way short of perfect - she gets tetchy with her children, she's had an affair, (but there were reasons of course) and, perhaps worst of all, she has to live with the angriest man in Holloway. David Carr does very little - but what he does mostly is write a short angry column in a local paper. He's terribly angry - not about thrid world debt or pollution, but about old ladies on buses and ice cream at the theatre. His rage seems comical, sinister, strangely mispalced. Katie and David are at war, taking continual pot shots at each other. Early in the book, Katie asks for a divorce, and to irritate her, David takes his strained back to a faith healer. Not only does DJ GoodNews heal David, he moves in with them and starts planning to rescue the homelss and teach everyone how to live better lives. David gives away his son's computer, invites a homeless lad called Monkey to live with them and encourages his children to bring home children they really don't like as some weird form of pennance. Throughout this, Katie remains sceptical, powerless to stop what is happening in her home, and disgusted by her husbands smug, self satisfied attitude to his new found enlightenment. This was an odd read for me, being the stay at home trying to write a book partner with the impression that we aren't living our lives in the right way. Fortunatly, there ends the resemblance. I spent a lot of time thinking about it - why is David wrong? I know he is, but why? Well, firstly he's too busy being smug - smugness and holier-than-thou attitudes don't make things better. He manages a couple of good things, but als
                              o prompts his son to start stealing, he upsets his children and his wife repeatedly - thinking that the bigger picture is more important. I've always felt that charity should begin at home - that you should make sure those around you are happy as your first priority and work out to the rest of the world from there. If you want to change your life, you should change your own life rather than other people's - give away your own computer and gadgets, not those belonging to your children. There's nothing good or liberal about forcing other people into things that they don't like. David's mistake is that he wants to change everyone else, not himself. That's my theory anyway. How well does Hornby create a female voice? Interesting question. I was fine with Katie - but I'm not the most femenine of women and if I was writing about myself, I probably wouldn't mention my appearance much or be all that comfortable talking about sex. There are women like Katie on that score. She's burned out emotionally, worldly weary and cynical - I can recognise that too. The great gender divide is nothing like as big as perhaps we would like to think. Most of gender is just steryotyping anyway (I could go on about this for hours) so hooraa for the slightly androgenous Katie who desn't spend ages talking about makeup, and hoorra for women like her! I would wholeheartedly recomend this book. it's not big, but it is both funny and clever.

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                                03.10.2001 23:32
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                                If you're already a Nick Hornby fan you'll love this book. It's very funny and had me nodding in recognition in a lot of places. I found it compulsive reading and hard to put down. It's a humorous and insightful look into a liberal, middle class family's values, problems and what happens when a you put a borderline mad new age healer into the equation. Katie Carr's marriage to David is close to breaking point, there is no big dramatic reason. Somewhere in the middle of twenty years of marriage, two children and Katie's demanding job as a GP they have grown apart. David is the cynical grumpy writer of 'Angriest man in Holloway' a column in the local paper where he moans about everything that annoys him, which includes mostly everything. Katie is having an affair, she figures that being a doctor scores highly on the goodness scale so an affair will just knock some of her points of rather than making her bad. Life is changed forever when Goodnews makes an appearance. Goodnews is the new age healer David goes to see to cure his bad back. David is only there to annoy his wife, but gets a 'road to Damascus' struck by lightning spiritual conversion as well as a cured back. To begin with Katie fears for his health, so great is the change. He is happy, joyful, full of a desire to change the world and scares the children by cheerful conversation at breakfast. Goodnews comes to live with them and becomes a guru in their midst with turtle eyebrow brooches. David and eight year old Molly are devoted disciples. Katie and ten year old Tom are the cynical voices of reason. To Katie it feels more like being a 'moaning, spoiled, smug, couldn't care a less survival of he fittest tabloid journalist'. David and Goodnews launch a scheme to get the neighbours to have homeless kids to stay for a year. Katie objects that people have a right not to have strangers staying in thei
                                r house and that this is understandable. She also states that it is weird to get the kids to give away their toys, another one of their projects. But Goodnews believes that if people are hungry they should be fed, if they are homeless give them a room, that there is no reason why they can't save the world and love everyone. Katie in theory can't fault some of their arguments, she is after all a life long liberal thinking guardian reader but a little voice in her head thinks 'no that is not how the real world works' She finds her husband smug, sanctimonious, and humourless she misses his once complicated mind. Molly is a daddy's girl who sees the new status quo as a chance to bond with her dad. Katie is beginning to guiltily think her daughter is turning into a prig. Whilst their strange domestic set up is leading Tom to misbehave at school. She fears that her children will be turned into weirdos by their father's infleunce. Katie feels driven insane by their constant peace, love, save the world philosophy and wants to enjoy big macs and expensive cocktails without being reminded of the world's poor. Her original marital problems are still bubbling beneath the surface and have been made worse by David's complete personality change. Something has to give either she leaves, waits a long time and hopes David will change, or joins in with what she can't beat. Katie's reaction to her husband and co is often funny because their idealism brings out the cynical ironic side of her character i.e when David earnestly compares his plans to Julia Robert?s fight against an evil water company in Erin Brokovech and Katie asks him if he's seriously suggesting that he is Julia Roberts. I laughed at her embarrassment during the party David hosts to get the neighbours to take in the homeless, because I could imagine how I would cringe if my other half decided to preach to the neighbours about hel
                                ping the homeless. This book raises some complex questions about what it means to be good. David and Goodnews want people to give a lot of their income away to help the poor, and this sound good as do a lot of their ideas to help the homeless. Katie is quite ambivalent about a lot of what they say she believes it at one level, but on another level feels she is having enough trouble holding herself and family together to make such a commitment to saving the world. So does this mean that Katie is not good she works hard as a GP but doesn't want to come home and live/breathe the problems of the world. Or does it mean that she is human and like most people in the world?

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                                According to her own complex moral calculations, Katie Carr has earned her affair. She's doctor, after all, and doctors are decent people, and on top of that, her husband David is the self-styled Angriest Man in Holloway. But when David suddenly becomes good - properly, maddeningly, give-away-all-his-money good - Katie's sums no longer add up, and she is forced to ask herself some very hard questions.