Nick Hornby’s book High Fidelity just turned 20 today. I remember reading it during my undergraduate years, instead of Kotler, Porter, and all the other required readings from our professors. And even though I hated the way the main character – Robert Fleming, a London record shop owner in his mid-thirties – behaved, I couldn’t put the book down.
I loved how Mr Hornby made me want to tell Rob off. It was somewhat unbearable to read how he was going to make his life more and more miserable with every step he took. But at the same time it was captivating.What is the book about? So, the 35-year-old Robert Fleming lives in London Crouch End and owns a record store. He and his two colleagues Barry and Dick often discuss their respective top five records or their top five worst songs of all time.
The novel starts with Rob’s girlfriend Laura, a lawyer, leaving him, because he cheated on her while she was pregnant. Also, they mutually found their relationship becoming boring by the day. And to make things more interesting, Laura had lent Rob a larger amount of money that he had never been able to pay her back.
Rob, being the narrator of the story, recounts his top five ex-girlfriends: Alison Ashworth, Penny Hardwick, Jackie Allen, Charlie Nicholson and Sarah Kendrew. He meets them all throughout the book to talk about their past relationship and their lives, as Rob wants to find out why exactly all his relationships didn’t work out.
Eventually, he meets Marie LaSalle, a singer, but he spends a lot of time still thinking about Laura. Laura, however, is now in a relationship with Ian Ray, who has been living for some time in the apartment right above where Rob and Laura used to live. However, Laura’s best friend Liz brought to Rob’s attention that Laura hasn’t been happy in her new relationship.
At the funeral of Laura’s father Ken, the two meet again and get closer. Laura notices that her life with Rob was better, and Rob realizes that he needs to change his adolescent behavior in order to win Laura back. Laura shows her affection for Rob organizes a DJ-gig for him, just like old times, and Barry gets to play the sold-out gig with his band Backbeat. Laura and Rob become a couple again, even though Laura rejects his wedding proposal.