Title: A Long Way Down
Author: Nick Honby
Publisher: Penguin 2006
Rating: 4/5 stars Movie: 5/5 stars
Reading Challenges: Mount TBR; Monthly Key Word - Aug; 52 Books - W31; Books to Movies
Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year's Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.
In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.
This isn't High Fidelity. That was my initial thought when finished with the book. I started my Hornby journey with J's favorite and have found that this one just doesn't quite live up to it. This volume is a good novel. We get four interesting engaging characters. The switches in point of view are done well. Overall the storyline is okay. It just doesn't have the depth of High Fidelity. The overall voice of the book is not clear. In fact, I wasn't really sure of the point of the book once I got to the end. But I did enjoy reading it, so that's something.
The movie fixed the main issue I had with the book: pacing. The movie quickly moves off of the roof of Topper House and into the characters. Very good decision. Once there, we get each of the characters' voices in a the telling of the larger story. I liked how they kept the voices, but didn't get stuck in each of the stories. Instead, the voices just narrate four different parts of the story. I thought the casting was very spot on, especially Jess. Jess can be very grating in the book. Imogen Poots toned her down a bit, but kept her inappropriate comments and impulsive nature. Toni Colette was perfect as the dowdy Maureen. I really believed her to be the meek mouse of the group. The only thing about the movie that I wasn't sold on was the ending. It was a bit too happy for me. I like the more ambiguous ending of the book. But that's it. I really enjoyed the rest of the movie.