How To Be Good, by Nick Hornby

“What you don’t catch a glimpse of on your wedding day- because how could you?- is that some days you will hate your spouse, that you will look at him and regret ever exchanging a word with him, let alone a ring and bodily fluids.”

8577083How To Be Good begins with Dr Katie Carr in a parking lot asking her husband David for a divorce over the phone. She thinks this scenario would be highly unlikely if her life were a movie. But then she has had enough. David is selfish, whiny, and even his newspaper column is called The Angriest Man in Holloway. Katie has spent her life living carefully, trying to be a good doctor, a good person, a good mother. But now she’s gone and had an affair with Stephen, and she’s here in a parking lot asking David for a divorce. Over the phone.

For a lot of reasons, I loved this book. Acutely observant and precise, How To Be Good paints a very credible picture. Hornby’s writing is witty and even depressing scenes have been written in a darkly comic style. The splendid intricacy lies in how the characters seem deceptively simple, but are so realistic in their own way. As a reader, you want to take sides because that’s the kind of characters we’re used to. But you can’t, in this case. I was a little disappointed by Katie’s ultimate choice, but can’t say I was surprised. It only added to the story’s credibility.

My one issue with the book though (and this is a big one for me) is the ending. I hate open endings. I just hate them. I’ve read this far, at least give me closure, but no! Why do authors do this? Why do people like this? I know a lot of people who love open endings (please spare me the “but you can interpret it in so many ways, isn’t that bril?” No.) But they’re not for me. When I get to the end and it’s an “Open-for-all”, I know that the author probably had something in mind; no one decides to leave a story hanging that way, and I don’t want to form my own ideas – I want to know what that particular thought was in the author’s mind they wrote that particular ending. And not knowing drives me mad. Just mad.

What do you think of open endings? Yay/Nay?

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8 thoughts on “How To Be Good, by Nick Hornby

  1. I hate open endings and I am with you on that one. I know what my heart wants, its mostly a happy ending. But, I want to know if that was what the author wanted. Besides, seeing it in their words is more satisfactory.

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  2. Open endings… depends on the book. Thanks for the reco, Sreesha. I just got the book and want to read it all the more quickly because of your review!

    (Hugs! How have you been? long time no see you and your pretty smile! ♥)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ll love it, it’s funny and at the same time Hornby looks deep into everyone’s heads!

      Hugs to you too! You know, during the weekend, I was rearranging some shelves and found a copy of Misery. You were the first person who crossed my mind then, because of the conversation we had when we met about how much you love the book! I’ve been ok. Not updating the other blog, and been MIA on social media. How are you?

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  3. Hahahaha, okay, I will spare you the “but you can interpret them so many different ways!” argument and just say that I love an open ending. The thing is that I love a happy ending, but sometimes the book has presented us with so much conflict and difficulty that a happy ending can feel facile or glib. If it’s an open ending, though, I don’t feel the author’s taken the easy way out, AND I can imagine for myself that it ends happily. It’s the best of both worlds!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I am not too big a fan of happy endings either. But I do like conclusions. In this case, the last sentence made no sense whatsoever. You’re all like, “What does that even mean??? Arghhhhh.”

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