How To Be Good


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Product Description

In Nick Hornby's How to Be Good, Katie Carr is certainly trying to be. That's why she became a GP. That's why she cares about Third World debt and homelessness, and struggles to raise her children with a conscience. It's also why she puts up with her husband David, the self-styled Angriest Man in Holloway. But one fateful day, she finds herself in a Leeds parking lot, having just slept with another man. What Katie doesn't yet realize is that her fall from grace is just the first step on a spiritual journey more torturous than the interstate at rush hour. Because, prompted by his wife's actions, David is about to stop being angry. He's about to become good--not politically correct, organic-food-eating good, but good in the fashion of the Gospels. And that's no easier in modern-day Holloway than it was in ancient Israel. Hornby means us to take his title literally: How can we be good, and what does that mean? However, quite apart from demanding that his readers scrub their souls with the nearest available Brillo pad, he also mesmerizes us with that cocktail of wit and compassion that has become his trademark. The result is a multifaceted jewel of a book: a hilarious romp, a painstaking dissection of middle-class mores, and a powerfully sympathetic portrait of a marriage in its death throes. It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry as we watch David forcing his kids to give away their computers, drawing up schemes for the mass redistribution of wealth, and inviting his wife's most desolate patients round for a Sunday roast. But that's because How to Be Good manages to be both brutally truthful and full of hope. It won't outsell the Bible, but it's a lot funnier.

Editorial Reviews

Another delightful comedy from Hornby (High Fidelity, 1995, etc.), this one about a woman whose plans to divorce her crabby husband are sidetracked by his sudden, if loony, embrace of saintliness.Though the 72-hour metamorphosis is a bit of a stretch, no matter: this hilarious romp entirely justifies the wise reader's agreement to play along. Narrator Katie Carr, a 40-something doctor in England's National Health Service, finds herself disenchanted with her marriage and in the midst of an affair. Husband David, a newspaper columnist known as ";;;;;;the Angriest Man in Holloway,";;;;;; is insufferably cynical and absorbed by his public spleen-spitting. Katie feels forgotten. She confides the affair and suggests a divorce; David instructs her to tell their two children during his three-day absence; she dithers, and when David returns he apologizes for not loving her properly. It seems he has begun receiving ";;;;;;treatments";;;;;; from DJ GoodNews, whose impeccably beneficent persona persuades David to embrace the love in the world and nourish it as he can. The divorce is called off, and DJ and David begin tackling the problem of homeless children in Holloway by persuading neighbors to take individual kids for a year or so. Soon, a homeless boy named Monkey is eating at the Carr table, and David is giving away his children's prized toys. Thus begins a series of several remarkable schemes rendered with an entertaining mix of humor and delicately suggestive questioning. Hasn't Katie, a doctor who helps the afflicted, always been the good one after all? Just what does it mean to be ";;;;;;good";;;;;;? Hornby's quick eye and nimble observational style nail everyone's vanity, but they all come in for their moment of insight as well.By the close, the engaging Carr family is restored whole, even as it realizes-and as the author reminds us with his characteristic sprightly fatalism-that they still inhabit an empty universe.Author tour Copyright 2001 Kirkus Reviews

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