I would never have picked this book up on my own, but it is our February book for Books into Movies book group at the local library. I enjoyed the book more than the movie, shocker, but mostly because I didn’t see the need to move it from London to the US or the rather odd way they had the protagonist, Rob, interact with the camera/audience.
Primarily, this novel is about break-ups, but it’s also about reflecting on one’s life (and love life) in your mid-30s. Now I’m not quite there yet (two more years to rock out my 20s), but I can definitely sympathize with the Rob and questioning everything about every previous relationship and whether it all has to do with him. However, I REALLY hope I don’t go through this sort of soul-searching because I can only imagine how awkward it could be.
What I enjoyed most about the novel is what I hated most about the film: Rob talking directly to the audience/camera and his making lists. In the book the lists were great, they were thought out and explained brilliantly, I mean it starts with a list in the first line. In the movie, I felt, they only served to disrupt the flow of action. In addition to this, whereas in the book the narration seemed to take place in Rob’s head, in the film it was Rob talking to the camera regardless of where he was and it often left me thinking ‘Why is no one looking at him like he’s crazy?!’ I’m not sure how else they would’ve done it, but by combining the lists with him talking to the camera just came across as strange to me.
I won’t ruin the ending for you, but it was happy enough if somewhat expected. I did like the ending in the film incrementally better than the book, solely because it was more visually pleasing and you just had to smile.
Recommendation: As my first Nick Hornby book, I thought it was really good. I can see where others would be better and if I get the chance I’ll definitely check them out because I’ve enjoyed a lot of the films inspired by his books. I think it’s definitely worth a read, but you’ll REALLY enjoy this if you love music, the 1980s or heartbreak.
Opening Line: “My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups, in chronological order: 1. Alison Ashworth 2. Penny Hardwick 3. Jackie Allen 4. Charlie Nicholson 5. Sarah Kendrew.”
Closing Line: “Tonight, for the first time ever, I can sort of see how it’s done.” (Whited out.)
Additional Quotes from High Fidelity
“You won’t change everything around like Jackie could. It’s happened too many times, to both of us; we’ll just go back to the friends and the pubs and the life we had before, and leave it at that, and nobody will notice the difference, probably.” (20)
“I agree that you need to meet somebody new in order to dispense with the old—you have to be incredibly brave and adult to pack something in just because it isn’t working very well. But you can’t go about it all half-heartedly.” (108)
“I put the phone down before she can say anything, to let her know I’m hurt, and then I want to phone her back and apologize, but I know I mustn’t. It’s like you can never do the right thing by someone if you’ve stopped sleeping with them. You can’t see a way back, or through, or round, however hard you try.” (233, emphasis mine)