How to Be Good

How to Be Good

by

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. --Matthew Baylis


From Publishers Weekly
Kate, a doctor, wife and mother, is in the midst of a difficult decision: whether to leave or stay with her bitter, sarcastic husband David (who proudly writes a local newspaper column called "The Angriest Man in Holloway"). The long-term marriage has gone stale, but is it worth uprooting the children and the comfortable lifestyle? Then David meets a faith healer called Dr. Goodnews, and suddenly converts to an idealistic do-gooder: donating the children's computer to an orphanage, giving away the family's Sunday dinner to homeless people and inviting runaways to stay in the guest room (and convincing the neighbors to do likewise). Barber gives an outstanding performance as Kate, humorously conveying her mounting irritation at having her money and belongings donated to strangers, her guilt at not feeling more generous and her hilarious desire for revenge. Barber brilliantly portrays each eccentric character: hippie-ish Goodnews, crusading David, petulant children and, poignantly, the hesitant, halting Barmy Brian, a mentally deficient patient of Kate's who needs looking after. Barber's stellar performance turns a worthy novel into a must-listen event. Simultaneous release with Riverhead hardcover (Forecasts, June 25).

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Title:How to Be Good
ISBN:9783426615355
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    How to Be Good Reviews

  • F

    This book was terrible. I am not interested in reading a book about marriage & divorce. It was boring and just went on and on and on. It makes me never want to get married EVER. Just awful....

  • Libby

    I think "How to be Good" certainly divided fans of Hornby who were used to his musical themes in High Fidelity and 31 Songs and his style in About a Boy. He was given a lot of criticism for writing th...

  • Shaina

    To say I didn't get this book would be a profound understatement. Near as I can tell, it's about all the terrible, mundane ways life can grind you down, how hypocracy gets all of us in the end, and th...

  • will

    how to be goodAs long time readers know (or maybe you don't) Maria and I read to each other. One of the joys of "naked Sunday" is the fact that we don't have to get up, spend the day wandering around ...

  • Jeff

    As I started reading this I said to myself, “Jeff, maybe your first Hornby book probably should have been High Fidelity not this one.” The narrator’s a 40ish British woman who’s married to an ...

  • Zaki

    How to Be Good could have appropriately been titled Who Gives a Shit? or How to be Good for Nothing because that's what Nick Hornby is with his cheesy writing style and trite observations....

  • Jon Cox

    The last sentence of this book made me feel daft. I think I pretty much comprehended the majority of the book: the mild, slightly frantic despair that the main character feels over a marriage that is ...

  • Eddie Owens

    Ok it's called "How to be Good", so I will try to be good.It's an interesting idea that doesn't go anywhere, and on that basis, it should have been written as a short story.Here's why it didn't go any...

  • Sara

    Loved this book! I didn't think I would, actually, because it opens with the decaying of a marriage between two Brits with kids. The subject just doesn't grab me much, I mean, as escapist reading why ...

  • Eva

    I wasn't sure how to rate this book..Nick Hornby is an author that I generally like. He has a great sense of humor and his writing seems effortless. It flows out of him naturally and one almost feels ...