Excerpt from How To Be Good by Nick Hornby, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

How To Be Good

by Nick Hornby

How To Be Good
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2001, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2002, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


I can only find one story in the paper that I want to read: a married woman is in trouble for giving a man she didn't know a blow job in the club class section of an airplane. The married man is in trouble, too, but it's the woman I'm interested in. Am I like that? Not outside in the world I'm not, but in my head I am. I've lost all my bearings somehow, and it scares me. I know Stephen, of course I know Stephen, but when you have been married for twenty years, any sexual contact with anyone else seems wanton, random, almost bestial. Meeting a man at a Community Health forum, going out for a drink with him, going out for another drink with him, going out for dinner with him, going out for another drink with him and kissing him afterward, and, eventually, arranging to sleep with him in Leeds after a conference . . . That's my equivalent of stripping down to my bra and pants in front of a plane full of passengers and performing a sex act, as they say in the papers, on a complete stranger. I fall asleep surrounded by pieces of the Guardian and have dreams that are sexual but not erotic in any way whatsoever, dreams full of people doing things to other people, like some artist's vision of hell.

When I wake up, David's in the kitchen making himself a sandwich.

"Hello," he says, and gestures at the bread board with the knife. "Want one?" Something about the easy domesticity of the offer makes me want to cry. Divorce means never having a sandwich made for you -- not by your ex-husband, anyway. (Is that really true, or just sentimental claptrap? Is it really impossible to imagine a situation where, sometime in the future, David might offer to put a piece of cheese between two pieces of bread for me? I look at David and decide that, yes, it is impossible. If David and I divorce he will be angry for the rest of his life -- not because he loves me but because that is who and how he is. It is just about possible to imagine a situation in which he would not run me over if I was crossing the street -- Molly is tired, say, and I'm having to carry her -- but hard to think of a situation where he might offer to perform a simple act of kindness.)

"No, thanks."

"Sure?"

"Sure."

"Suit yourself."

That's more like it. A slight note of pique has crept in from somewhere, as if his strenuous attempts to make love not war have been met with continued belligerence.

"Do you want to talk?"

He shrugs. "Yeah. What about?"

"Well. About yesterday. What I said on the phone."

"What did you say on the phone?"

"I said I wanted a divorce."

"Did you? Gosh. That's not very friendly, is it? Not a very nice thing for a wife to say to her husband."

"Please don't do this."

"What do you want me to do?"

"Talk properly."

"OK. You want a divorce. I don't. Which means that unless you can prove that I've been cruel or neglectful or what have you, or that I've been shagging someone else, you have to move out and then after five years of living somewhere else you can have one. I'd get going if I were you. Five years is a long time. You don't want to put it off."

I hadn't thought about any of this, of course. Somehow I'd got it into my head that me saying the words would be enough, that the mere expression of the desire would be proof enough that my marriage wasn't working.

"What about if I . . . you know."

"No, I don't know."

I'm not ready for any of this. It just seems to be coming out of its own accord.

"Adultery."

"You? Miss Goody Two-shoes?" He laughs. "First off, you've got to find someone who wants to adulter you. Then you've got to stop being Katie Carr GP, mother of two, and adulter him back. And even then it wouldn't matter, 'cos I still wouldn't divorce you. So."

Reprinted from How to be Good by Nick Hornby by permission of Riverhead, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright 2001 by Nick Hornby. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...
  • Book Jacket: Miss Jane
    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson
    National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson returns with an intimate novel about one woman's journey to...
  • Book Jacket: Dinner with Edward
    Dinner with Edward
    by Isabel Vincent
    In late 2009 Isabel Vincent and her family were still newcomers to New York City. She and her ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!