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Review “A long way down” May 14, 2007

Posted by resel in Reviews.

The novel “A long way down” written by Nick Hornby deals with a topic which remains to be a rarely mentioned issue in public and society. Four people with bad destinies who are thinking about killing themselves meet on the roof of Topper’s House on New Year’s Eve in London. As they get to know each other a little bit on that evening they decide to cancel  their suicide and intend to meet again on Valentine’s Day – ninety days later to see whether things have changed for them. But finally everything turns out to end up differently. The four of them get attention of the press as one of them used to be quite a famous TV presenter, found a reading group and even spend a holiday together. After ninety days the decision has to be made at the end of the book …

What I like most about the book are Jess, JJ, Maureen and Martin.  Hornby’s ability to develop characters is a proof for his great knowledge of human nature because the four of them are extremely different and yet I could kind of identify with everyone.  What I mean to say is that – although you might have nothing in common with them – you can understand their emotions and actions. The first-person-pespective underlines that because it helps you to get to know the persons very closely. So I ended up liking all of them in a certain way inspite of their differences and actually unlikeable foibles …

The only thing that I was a little bit disappointed of was the end although I have to clearify that I am still in two minds about it. The fact that Hornby leaves it rather open made me feel slightly pessimistic as the problems the characters had at the beginning were not solved till the end.  There is a symbol that life is always going on although you might not see it moving. But is that much of a comfort to people who want to kill themselves? Nevertheless this kind of end is very realistic which actually is great. Yet I am just used to the films I normally watch and the books I read which start with a conflict that is sort out in the end. Hence I probably have wrong expectations. “A long way down” did absolutely not confirm to my usual reading and watching habits. And I know that I also would have been disappointed if JJ, Maureen, Jess and Martin had become friends and helped each other out just like this. That would have been far too predictable. So I don’t know what I would have liked as an end …

I do not recommend that book to people who think about killing themselves and expect a tip how to handle the problems in their lives … Or maybe it is just me who doesn’t see the comfort … Anyway, I liked that book very much and enjoyed reading it.



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