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Nick Hornby - A Long Way Down

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Nick Hornby - A Long Way Down

  1. Biographie of Nick Hornby
  2. Plot summary
  3. Martin Sharp
  4. Maureen
  5. Jess
  6. List of phrases
  7. Letters
  8. New ending
  9. Why I would recommend my book

Biographie of Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby was born in 17.04.1957 in London and he has been living in Highbury, Islington, London with his wife Virginia Bowell and his son Danny. He studied English philology , during this time he wrote television and radio dramas. Later Nick Hornby was teaching English at Parkside Community College in Cambridge. and worked as journalist. He wrote articles for many different magazines and newspapers, for example ‘The Sunday Times’, ‘Time’ and ‘The Independent’. Nick Hornby’s first novel ‘Fever Pitch’ appeared in 1992 with much payoff, thenceforward he could only attend to write books. 1995 ‘High Fidelity’ was published, which was also successful as movie. 1998 was ‘About a boy’ attended. In 1999, he got the E.M.Forster award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 2001 ‘How to be good’ appeared, which won Britain's W.H. Smith fiction award in April 2002. Besides his books he continued writing for ‘ Sunday Times’ , ‘Time Out’ and ‘Times Literary Supplement’.

His son's disorder let him to become a co-founder of "TreeHouse", a charity for autistic children. This organisation helps children to get a better care.

Futhermore Nick Hornby is a big Arsenal London Fan. He visits every game of his team.

Plot summary

The main characters Martin, Maureen, JJ and Jess, meet on the roof of Toppers’ House, each of them wants to commit suicide.
The two men and the two women tell each other about their motives for the suicide.
They are of the opinion that Jess is too young to die and they want to help her to find her boyfriend.
The people climb down and arrange a date for their next meeting.
A newspaper reports about four persons, who have tried to jump off the roof of Toppers’ House. Therefore the characters meet again and Jess writes a story for the newspaper. After that they have some interviews with the newspaper reporters, they go to Feet Up Tv, where Martin works, and they are interviewed by Martin, who looses his job after the interview.
From now on Martin, Maureen, JJ and Jess meet several times for coffee breaks or to speak together.
Maureen has not gone on holiday for 19 years that is why the main characters go on holiday together.
All of them meet again on Valentinesday and recognice that they are no longer disposed to jump off.
They meet together with their families at Starbucks and try to solve their problems but all of them get into struggle.
JJ becomes a busker.
Martin gives gratis private lessons to kids who have bad grades, so that he gets more self-esteem.
Jess meets a man, who can explain her about the different characters of human beings that is why Jess wants to solve her problems with her parents and wants to have a better relation to her parents.
Maureen has a better life, she goes on quiz with three hospital nurses and has a job at a kiosk near her home.
All characters do not want to commit suicide any longer.
They help each other to return into normal life.

First meeting on the roof

page 13 – page 26

First Martin is on the roof of Toppers’ House. He sits at the edge of the roof and drinks alcohol, when Maureen comes on to the roof.
She wants to borrow the ladder to come over the fence to the border.
The two persons strike up a conversation.
Jess comes frantic yellling on to the roof. Martin and Maureen jump at Jess because they do not want that Jess commit suicide because they think she is too young.
JJ comes with some pizza on to the roof because he is a pizza deliveryman and sees Martin, Maureen and Jess who talk together. The three persons ask JJ why he is on the roof therefore they strike up a conversation about there reasons to commit suicide.

The second meeting

page 87 – page 142

Martin, Maureen, JJ and Jess meet again because an article about them has been published in a newspaper. They meet at Maureen’s home to discuss how they go on.
Jess wants to write a story for the newspaper to get some money. From now on the media are interested in their story. Martin speaks with his director about their story and tells him that it could be a good story for the little broadcast station named "Feet Up TV" that is why Maureen, JJ and Jess are interviewed by Martin. The interview is very bad so that Martin looses his job.

Meeting on Valentinesday

page 173 – page 186

At the meeting on Valentinesday Maureen, Martin, Jess and JJ meet on the roof of Toppers’ House again. They talk together about the incidents and about their feelings. At this day they see a man who commit suicide that is why they spot that they are never ready to commit suicide. Martin says that they get closer than some, but nowhere near as close as others.

Martin Sharp

Martin Sharp is a man of 45, is married and has got two daughters.
He is a successful link man of breakfast TV, up to the day when he sleeps with a 15 years old girl.
From this day on everythings changes.
Martin loses his job. He has to go into prison for three month. His wife, Cindy, leaves him and he must not see his daughters Polly and Maisie.
After this Martin only has jobs at bad televison productions and gets little money.
The relationship between Martin and Penny hits rock bottom and in the light of certain facts he wants to take his own life.
Martin gets a leading role in the book because he is nearly as old as Maureen. He knows how to speak to other people and knows how to deal with them.


Maureen is 51 years old so she is the oldest of the main characters.
After her first sexual adventure she has born her son Matty. The man who has impregnated Maureen, leaves her. Maureen abdicates her job for Matty, because he lies in coma vigil, thus Matty needs permanent care.
Maureen has been nursing her son for twenty years, she reads to Matty, hangs posters on the wall and embellishes the room with soccer wallpaper, although she does not know, if Matty notices anything of those activities.
Maureens behaviour can be compared with a cleaning lady.
She goes in for thrillers and reads books. Maureen only goes out, when she has to buy eatables or when she goes into the Catholic church every Sunday which she has not been doing for some time, because she has lost the faith in God.
Maureen has not gone on holidays since Matty’s birth because of the fosterhome which is too pricy for Maureen.
Maureen is a typical old woman, who does not know the world wide web and furthermore she has no anticipation of modern life.


Jess is 18 years old. She is the daughter of a politician from Tony Blair’s cabinet.
She has had a boyfriend named Chas, who has left her. Jess has a bad street language, so bad that you never could think that she is a daughter of a politician.
Jess misses her sister, who runs away from home some years ago.
Jess thinks that life is easy that is why she is drunken or stoned most of the time.
One evening she is at a party, her ex-boyfriend is not there she is cracking up and goes to the roof of Toppers’ House to commit suicide.

List of phrases

Toppers’ House
Handycaped son


Dear Maureen,

I am Tom and I write you because of your son.
I would tell you that I have a son like Matty. He is named Till and has been lying in bed since four years. Every day I hope that he stands up and will be able to live like a normal child. I am so sad about what happend. It was a plain winters day. He went out to play with some other kids. Maybe ten minutes later I heared the other children screaming and I ran as fast as I could to them. I saw that my son Till fell into the cold lake. I directly phoned the police, but when they came Till didn’t move. From this day he has been lying in coma vigil.
I think that I’m at the end after four years of daily care.
But when I heard about your story I thought that I must go on.
I look up to you because of your staying powerd hat is why I go on. I am not the only one who has a son who lies in coma vigil and needs daily help.

I would ask you, if we could meet so we could talk together and speak about your problems and what we could do in future.

Yours Tom

Dear JJ,

I’m Karl but everyone named me "Music-Kalle" because of my job.
I’m a busker like you. When I heard of you I thought that I have to write to you.
You should commit suicide because the life as a busker is too hard to live. In summer you have too many competition and in the winter it’s too cold to be a busker. You earn no money and have to exist under a bridge and to be hungry or you have luck and get warm food in a soup kitchen.
I have had the wish to die since six years but I didn’t wangle it.

Lovley wishes Music-Kalle

New ending

Maureen was alone after JJ, Jess and Martin had left Starbucks. She talked to the attendants which asked her if they were to attend Matty for one more night. Maureen accepted the gratefully offer because she wanted to have a nice day.
She went home where she drank two whiskeys before she went into her bathroom.
JJ took a walk from Starbucks to his home where he passed Maureen’s home automatically. He wondered that Maureen’s door was open and looked around because he thought that Maureen was going out to bring her rubbish out, but when he looked around he recognized the two police cars. He ran frightend into Maureens home where he crashed with a police man who told him that he could not go into this house because of an accident. JJ told him he would be a family member, therefore the police man allowed him to go in.
What JJ saw shocked him very much that was why he went away.
Maureen had commited suicide.

Why I would recommend my book

The book is written by Nick Hornby, a famous British author, who has published several interesting novels for e.g. "About a boy", "High Fidelity" and "How To Be Good".
As well as the other novels "A Long Way Down" deals with the problems of the main characters in modern society.
The main characters are Martin, who is a TV star with problems at home and work.
Maureen, who is a frustrated mother with a handycaped son.
Jess, who is 18 years old and has problems with her boyfriend.
JJ, who is a Rockmusician, has lost his band and girlfriend.
The message from the book is that someone is depressed and has to decide if he/she wants to commit suicide or if he/she wants to walk on the difficult way called "Life".
Now you have heard about the novel, here are some reasons why you should or shouldn’t read it.
The theme "suicide" isn’t mentioned very often in novels so it is very interesting for the reader to get information about the background.
In my opinion Hornby sometimes writes too detailed, so some chapters are a bit boring.
But on the other hand the author has to give us information about the protagonists, so that we can imagine their characters.
Most important is that the text is written from the view of the main characters. So you can imagine how they feel and why they act the way they do.
There are also interesting changing points in the plot and the end is very surprising.
To summarizes my book review I would say you should read the novel.
Zusammenfassung des Buches `A Long Way Down` von Nick Hornby sowie Charakterisierungen und einige Zusatzinformationen über das Buch auf Englisch. (2046 Wörter)
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3.9/5 Punkte (28 Votes)

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