Amy Wilder's Reviews > How to Be Good

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
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Aug 25, 11

Recommended to Amy Wilder by: mom
Recommended for: married folks, priests, parents of snarky kids, women on the verge
Read on July 09, 2011

Really intimate first person novel about a woman whose husband suddenly stops being snarky and facetious and becomes really sincere and loving. Basically I completely sympathized with her feeling that this person, while arguably much NICER than her husband, was basically NOT her husband any more, and was also pretty annoying.

It's a great humorous approach to the same kind of material about morality that Jonathan Franzen explores in Freedom. Only, you know, funny and enjoyable rather than...Great American Novel. This is Hornby in a nutshell - he gets inside his characters heads, he creates wholly believable absurdity, and he gets under your skin while doing it.

I read this in a day. Here is how this day went: I was staying at my family's summer house with my mother and niece and nephews. I woke up late, came downstairs and made a cup of coffee. My mother had taken the whole gang to a pancake breakfast so I sat on the deck and sipped my coffee while working on a crossword puzzle. When my mother returned, she brought me pancakes and a copy of how to be good from the church bazaar. I declared that I saw no reason to leave my deck chair for the rest of the day. Eventually I did get up for the bathroom and a change of clothes (pajamas are rather hot on a summer day) but I essentially stuck to my pledge. Engaging in sloth while reading about how our human weakness makes us, well, human was a lovely way to spend a vacation day and I recommend it highly.

I suppose I could have liked this book more except I really wanted her to fall back in love with her husband and she just didn't. Things got better but...it was a little too real, I guess you could say. I can't fault the book for that, really, but I do favor an escapist book when I'm on vacation.
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