Maidstone Book Club: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

a_long_way_down Because I’m such a Billy-no-mates and don’t have anyone to go to the pub with, I put out a couple of adverts in the hope of recruiting some people to join the book club I wanted to start.  After a slow start, I got a few people interested and last night four of us had our first meeting to discuss A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby.

I’ve never even been to a book club before, let alone started one up, so I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do.  We chatted for a bit about where we lived, what we did and so on and then it was suggested that we talk about the book, what with it being a book club and that.  Good idea.

A Long Way Down is about four people who decide to commit suicide on New Years Eve.  Martin’s TV career is in tatters after sleeping with a 15 year old girl, JJ’s depressed because his band broke up and his girlfriend left him, Maureen’s got a severely disabled son and can’t cope anymore and Jess is full of teenage angst and Special Brew.  They all meet up on the top of a North London tower block, a notorious suicide spot nicknamed Toppers House and an unlikely friendship is formed.

The book is written from each of the character’s point of view and while this is a bit confusing at first, they each have a distinctive voice so you always know who’s speaking. 

We all agreed that Maureen was the only likeable character but that all the characters were believable although Jess wasn’t portrayed very consistently.

Not Hornby’s best book, but a good read nevertheless. 

Next month’s book, chosen by Gillian, is Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller.

Maidstone Book Club meets the second Thursday of every month, if you’d like to come along, please contact me.


  1. I ‘read’ this as an audiobook. Each of the characters was portrayed by a different actor which really brought them to life and avoided the confusion of having four different first person points of view. I agree with your assessment of Maureen as the most likeable of the characters. I just wanted to slap Jess most of the time, and Martin came across as whiny. A good book though. I’ve got a few more of Hornby’s books to read. Must get around to it.

  2. Ah, that would work. Was it like a radio play? High Fidelity’s my favourite book of his. Followed by About A Boy. I didn’t think much of How to be Good, and Slam was even worse.

  3. I read this book twice. I loved it. He writes with humour but real humanity.

  4. Well done for starting a book club. Sounds like fun. I hope you’ll blog next month’s … Ah more authors to add to my wish list…

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