This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

A Long Way Down (2005)

by Nick Hornby

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,825179690 (3.46)186
Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year's Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.… (more)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 186 mentions

English (167)  German (3)  Norwegian (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (178)
Showing 1-5 of 167 (next | show all)
What I loved in this book is the ability of the talented writer to paint the characters, their thoughts, and behavior.
It is not a book that changes a life, but it can undoubtedly convey the time to the reader, and make you think a bit about life. ( )
  bookloverreview | May 27, 2019 |
Not a very uplifting story. Kinda went in circles and never felt like it went anywhere. ( )
  gpratt | Dec 29, 2018 |
This has the possibility to be a really decent movie. More decent than the book. Which is... decent? By decent I mean a few shades above medicore.

4 suicidal people meet at the top of a building and then spend the rest of the book convincing themselves and each other not to kill themselves. Laugh riot, right? They are incredibly mopey people and Hornby writes about each of them in turns in the first person, so you can really get in their mopey heads. Unfortunately this is one of the weaknesses of the book... I don't want to be in their oh-woe-is-me brains, I wanna laugh at them. Not that I couldn't laugh at them (the book is pretty funny sometimes) but internal monologues from people who have really lame reasons to kill themselves slowly coming to the realization that death would kinda suck (or more specifically, that suicidal ideation is a dangerous and ultimately futile way to try to get yourself out of a funk) don't help. BUT, I am 90% sure the movie (starring AARON PAUL AS JJ OMG) will not have voiceovers of these internalmonologues, creating INSTANT IMPROVEMENT. ( )
  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
Four disparate characters meet on a London rooftop one New Year's Eve; each has come up there with the intention of jumping off. All have their own reasons for suicidal despair. Martin's life is in shambles since his conviction for having sex with an underage girl. Maureen can't stand taking care of her profoundly disabled son any more. JJ has lost both his band and his girlfriend, and teenage Jess has problems with sex, drugs, and parents. The four characters become comrades in the quest to determine if life is indeed worth living.

This novel is charming in its way (as charming as a novel about suicide can be), but I couldn't help but feel that all four of the main characters were a little flat. I never felt that any of them was really likely to take the plunge, so to speak. I've never read a book by Nick Hornby before, but I can't imagine that this is the well-known author's best work. ( )
  akblanchard | Sep 27, 2017 |
“Everyone knows how to talk, and no one knows what to say.”

One New Year's Eve, four very different people meet on the top of a 15-story building in London each, for varying reasons, intending to commit suicide by jumping off. This is a well known 'jumpers' spot but none of them has calculated that they might encounter company. This is the story of what happens next or perhaps what doesn't and in Hornby's distinct style is something of a playful novel about suicide.

The book has no chapters and is narrated by the voices of the four would-be suicides. Martin, the disgraced morning TV show presenter, recently released from prison where he served a sentence for having sex with a 15-year-old girl. Maureen, a single mother with a profoundly disabled son,who feels imprisoned by caring for him. Jess, a troubled 18-year-old, daughter of a politician father with a missing older sister and JJ, a failed American musician who failed to go to college and now delivers pizza.

From the beginning Hornby finds uncomfortable comedy in the four characters situation. Suicide is usually a solitary act so when Maureen discovers Martin already on the edge apparently ready to jump, she taps him on the shoulder " to ask him if he was going to be long", thus giving the reader an insight into the book's tone even if they have never read any of the author's other works.

"............You'll be wanting to do it on your own, I'd imagine.'

" 'You'd imagine right.'

" 'I'll go over there.' She gestured to the other side of the roof.

" 'I'll give you a shout on the way down.' "

All four come down from the rooftop alive and together, meaning this is not a book about suicide at all. It's more about what happens when you don't kill yourself. The four characters become a little gang who promise to support one another. One of Hornby's strengths is his sharp sense of how completely the small preoccupations of our lives become inevitably entwined with the big, serious stuff. Frankly I found the first third or so of this book a little slow but as the four of them try and help each other rebuild their lives, with some inadvertent consequences, Hornby at least avoids the temptation to suggest that everyone's' life can be successfully patched. On a down side this does mean that the ending appears a touch aimless.

I read several of Hornby's other books in the past and generally enjoy his writing style. I found this a reasonably enjoyable read and at times I read it with a smile on my face but perhaps not one of his best IMHO. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Sep 5, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 167 (next | show all)
...Hornby doesn't confuse the simplicity of this thought with the impossibility of sometimes living it. For all his light touches, he is never superficial enough to suggest that these lives that have fallen apart, in four of the millions of ways lives may do so, can easily be patched up and renewed. Whatever limited consolations the book's survivors find in each other, Hornby resists melodramatic resolutions or glorious moments of redemption, and he doesn't smuggle away or refute all the reasons his characters took with them to the rooftop where they met, the ones that urged them toward the edge rather than down to the ground the slow way, back into the world.
added by lorax | editNew York Times, Chris Heath (Jun 12, 2005)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
The cure for unhappiness is happiness. I don't care what anyone says. --Elizabeth McCracken, Niagara Falls All Over Again
To Amanda
First words
Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block?
That’s the thing with the young these days, isn’t it? They watch too many happy endings. Everything has to be wrapped up, with a smile and a tear and a wave. Everyone has learned, found love, seen the error of their ways, discovered the joys of monogamy, or fatherhood, or filial duty, or life itself. In my day, people got shot at the end of films, after learning only that life is hollow, dismal, brutish, and short.
I once asked dad what he'd be doing if he wasn't working in politics and he said he'd be working in politics and what he meant, I think, is that wherever he was in the world, whatever job he was doing, he'd still find a way back, in the way that cats are supposed to be able to find a way back home when they move house. He'd be on the local council or he'd give out pamphlets or something. Anything that was a part of that world, he'd do.
We all spend so much time not saying what we want because we know we can't have it. And because it sounds ungracious or ungrateful or disloyal or childish or banal … Go on, say what you want. Maybe not out loud if it's going to get you into trouble. “I wish I'd never married him.” “I wish she was still alive.” “I wish I'd never had kids with her.” “I wish I had a whole shitload of money.” “I wish all the Albanians would go back to fucking Albania.” Whatever it is, say it to yourself. The truth shall set you free. Either that or it'll get you a punch on the nose.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year's Eve; a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives. In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances. Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, 'A Long Way Down' is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.46)
0.5 7
1 53
1.5 17
2 217
2.5 52
3 724
3.5 181
4 773
4.5 54
5 265

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 138,169,649 books! | Top bar: Always visible