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State of the Union: A Marriage in Ten Parts

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  359 ratings  ·  64 reviews
A heartbreaking, funny, and honest look inside of a marriage falling apart and the lengths a couple would go to in order to fix it from the bestselling author of About a Boy and High Fidelity.

"Hornby is a writer who dares to be witty, intelligent, and emotionally generous all at once." - The New York Times Book Review

Tom and Louise meet in a pub before their couple's ther
Paperback, 132 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Riverhead Books
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3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  359 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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MaryBeth's Bookshelf
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Nick Horny does it again; he brings us in to the human heart and does not let go.
Hornby's latest novel is a voyeuristic look at a marriage in crisis. Each week Tom and Louise meet at a pub across from their marriage counselor. There they discuss what brought them to this point and what each needs to move forward. Utilizing only dialogue we are brought into the heart of this marriage, with all its cracks and imperfections. I loved it.
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable quick read. Unique style and mostly dialogue. Read it in less than 2 hours.

I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nick Hornby is my soulmate. I love every word he's written. The only thing wrong with this is that it's too short!
It's also a new format -- not a novel, but a teleplay. So it's all dialogue with some stage direction. But nobody does middle class middle-aged angsty dialogue like Nick Hornby, so every word is perfect.
Jillian Doherty
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I could have continued being a voyeur on Tom and Louise's pre-counseling pub visits, for at least another 2 months ;)

Hornby does it again - giving us smart, charismatic, and appealing writing. It's fun read, and ideal for anyone who's been in a long term relationship.

The character's snarky, yet connective banter makes you feel included - like you're in on the joke; with charm and stylized humor it's an ideal summer read!

Galley borrowed from the publisher.
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Apparently, this was originally simply the scripts for the new Showtime series of ten 10-minute segments bearing the same title, that Hornby then (barely) novelized, since the book itself is 96% dialogue, with some very minimal 'stage directions' thrown in occasionally. That wouldn't be so terrible, since Hornby excels in creating such dialogues, but it just seems that something is missing. Having seen a few minutes of the show itself (I don't get Showtime, or I'd definitely watch it), it is cle ...more
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I got so excited about some new Hornby material that I paid $11 for a short story!
At any rate, it's a good short story, and I spread out over three readings to make it last. I really miss having Nick Hornby novels to read, as there aren't many other contemporary writers I enjoy much. This is a story about being married a long time, and I have been, so it was interesting and drew me in right away. It goes into the nature of marriage and love and relationship problems with the style that is trade
Lorri Steinbacher
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a perfect train/waiting room/right before bed book. Hornby is his dry, quirky, funny self and the couple at the center of the union are a believable creation. If you can, catch the series on Sundance channel. Each chapter is an episode, only ten minutes long. It's good stuff.

Recommended for readers who like short, punchy dialogue, stories about mature relationships, and Hornby fans. This would be a great July or August book for book groups.
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Entertaining enough in spots, and I like the structure (10 conversations in a pub between a husband and wife, prior to weekly marriage counselor appointments). But lacking any real meat. As with a number of Hornby's more recent works, I'll probably be hard pressed to remember it in a week or two. If you've not read High Fidelity or About a Boy, go with those first...
Michael  Malone
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Witty, fun, clever, everything you'd expect from a Hornby novel.
Yet it's not quite a Hornby novel. It is the collected screenplays for his new TV series, which features ten-minute episodes focused on a couple in a pub, ten minutes before they step into marital therapy sessions.
It's all dialogue. Hornby does dialogue with the best, but the characters and story would've been further fleshed out with a bit of narrative alongside the dialogue.
Tom and Louise are good characters and what's at stake
Rachel León
I'm not sure I'd necessarily recommend this novella, but I did enjoy it. It's a pretty sharp and real--though brief--look at a marriage.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A brief but satisfying read. I got to know Tom and Louise, and to understand their issues perhaps better than they did. Nick Hornby nearly never disappoints!
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Ten chapters. Ten conversations. An estranged husband and wife meet up in a pub for a drink for ten consecutive weeks before they head across the street to their therapist’s office. A little slice of life. Realistic in how discussions ramble and often don’t end up being what they started being about.
Tracy Ramone
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nick Hornby does it again.
Elizabeth Fleming
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So, so lovely... however lamentably short! Hornby is one of the very few authors who have the ability to make me laugh out loud, cackle style. He’s a true master, yet there’s a real sense of effortlessness in his work. Like how the great ones make difficult feats look easy. This one goes down like an ice cold sweet tea in summer. A must read.
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up)
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.

[Louise says,] "Underneath it all, I love you."

"Underneath it all."



"To be honest, I think you should be happy with that. You're lucky there's anything still there."

Tom and Louise are in trouble -- they've been married for years, have kids, and on the outside seem to be doing fine. But the marriage is in trouble -- and it has been for awhile. Recent events have demonstrated just how bad the situation is
Kiana Cook
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
The fact that I have read an entire memoir about soccer and another about 31 songs that I had never listened to in my life probably says all you need to know about how much I love Nick Hornby’s writing and will pick up anything with his name on it. State of the Union was no exception and, although it doesn’t deliver on the level of a Hornby novel (mainly due to the lack of glimpses into the protagonists’ minds), it’s still a fun, breezy read that will probably take you under an hour to complete. ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Things I thought about before I read this book:
1. I super loved /High Fidelity/ when I read it (seriously 20) years ago and read it several times, but I haven't read it in the time (decades) since.
2. Even at the time, I recognized that the main character is a dick.
3. Although I claim to like I really like this author, I never read any of his other books. What if I didn't like them? Scary.
4. I wondered how much his writing had changed between /High Fidelity/ and now; I bet if I reread it now, I w
Thomas Holland
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Expectations. I like Nick Hornby. Well, I like many of his books... don't know Nick Hornby and probably wouldn't even recognize him. When I buy a Nick Hornby book, I buy it with certain expectations. In this case, even my base expectation was wrong. It's not so much a book as it is a screen play (for a TV movie). It's not structured like a screen play, but it wouldn't take a lot of work to massage it into one. If I knew that fact in advance, I may have still purchased the book (although, not at ...more
Matthew Holley
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars, but erring on the lower side on this one...
Interesting concept, especially for me as a therapist who does see couples. And the execution is pretty good, especially considering that each of the 10 interactions are a very small window in which we get to see the characters interact. Overall, pretty believable.
Something that did bother me are the moments when Hornby engages in “telling” instead of “showing” what’s happening with the characters, like this snippet from page 75: “They are e
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I've especially liked Hornby's longer novels, where he seems to get inside of his characters and reveal a great deal about their situations. Usually, this means that the situations he explores become quite human and meaningful. This novella reads more like dialogues taken from a screenplay, and it feels narrow, limited to what can be learned from 10 pub conversations a couple have in the minutes before going to marital counseling. The one idea that seems to emerge from these dialogues for me is ...more
In ten short chapters, a husband and wife undergoing marriage counseling after one of them decides that they need it (as a result of an affair), look at the state of their marriage. They meet at a pub across the street from their marriage counselor's office and they talk, before their appointments. They fight, they look at each other as they haven't in years, they stare out the window of the pub and wonder what troubles the couples who have appointments before theirs. And slowly, they remember w ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it liked it
This quick read was much more touching and affecting than one would expect. It is a look at a marriage on the ropes in 10 short chapters (mostly consisting of dialogue) in which husband and wife meet before their marital therapy session and have a drink and chat. Sounds underwhelming, but it isn't. It's actually quite touching and very funny, if a bit unrealistic (the dialogue is way too clever and banter-y to not be Aaron Sorkin or David Mamet). This was actually my one problem here: while the ...more
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
It feels like cheating to add this as a book read because it's so short. It's even too short for a novella and reads more like a film script. But it really made me laugh and it's a completely effortless read. I can't help but wonder though if this kind of format would be allowed to an unproved writer, while for Nick Hornby publishers will take anything because his writing is so brilliant and he is "Nick Hornby" - it really is very good writing but, for sure, standards are different for renowned ...more
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I was in a Nick Hornby mood, and this gave me a quick fix. Short, a very fast read. Reading about this couple's marital relationship was like watching a train wreck, hard to look away... in a good way, I guess. Some of it hit kind of close to home, which is scary, but I think he captures a bit of the essence of marriage, in some ways. Which is great for him, that's exactly his intent, but could it be a little less savage at times? And I wonder how much of it his autobiographical for him, which m ...more
Amy Lively
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nick Hornby has written a masterclass on dialogue, which is pretty much all you get with this book. Our couple has only 10 minutes to catch up in a bar before their weekly marriage counseling appointment and within those 10 minutes, we learn a lot about what led them to this place. Hornby captures the pitfalls and the appeal of a long-term relationship perfectly, with his characteristic wit. Ultimately, anyone who has been in a long-term relationship is bound to recognize at least something abou ...more
David Bril
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nick-hornby
Another fantasticly funny read from Nick Hornby. This one is fairly short, containing 10 chapters, each a week apart, about a married couple who is going to therapy. It is witty, sharp and damn fun, with the two main characters being flaws but very likeable as well. It tells a perfectly tight story with the amount of time giving and concludes satisfactory. Can't wait to go watch the mini series of the same story.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tom and Louise meet at a pub every week across the street from their scheduled marriage counseling session. We never hear the sessions, but get filled in at the end of the week before the next one. Nick Hornby is the master of intelligent, sometimes goofy, witty conversation that gets to the heart of the relationship. No matter where it goes, we're rooting for both of them. And for more brilliant writing from Hornby
May 27, 2019 rated it liked it
while Tom and Louise sit at a pub across the street from their marriage therapist's house, they discuss their own relationship and also distract themselves by speculating on the lives of the couples who have appointments just before them. In a similar way, Hornby allows the reader to "overhear" and be a voyeur into this brief weekly interaction of Tom and Louise's marriage over the course of ten weeks. A quick read!
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
A very enjoyable piece of short fiction that reads like a play or screenplay (which is what it is). I love it when sparse writing captures so much. In this case, a couple whose relationship that has gone off track. Although, I felt I learned more about him than her her. Nick Hornby’s humor shines through. The Sundance television show is also worth watching especially the 10-15 minute episodes..
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I received this book as a part of a giveaway and read it in one morning sitting in the beach. There were definitely some literal laugh out loud parts and some touching moments. But for the most part, an easy to read voyeuristic view into a marriage. If you’ve been married you’ll probably relate to some part of it. Not a life changing read but good for an easy beach read.
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Nick Hornby is the author of the novels A Long Way Down, Slam, How to Be Good, High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and The Polysyllabic Spree, as well as the editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is a recipient of the American Acade ...more