Just Like You by Nick Hornby provided just the kind of escape I’m craving right now. A sweet love story between a 42-year-old divorced English teacher and a 22-year-old butcher shop assistant. The former a woman, the latter a man (the opposite would have made the book a no-go these days). Hornby throws in the added twists of the woman being white and the man black, each of them from different social backgrounds. With the cards stacked against them, will their love survive?
Lucy has just put behind her a tormenting divorce from the father of her two young sons. After a few dates with ‘suitable’ men, one found online the other a blind date (an older, successful but impotent author), Lucy ponders what to do next. In need of a babysitter, she enlists Joseph, whom she knows from the butcher shop. One thing leads to another and soon Lucy finds herself attracted to the kind, good-looking and uncomplicated Joseph.
After watching endless episodes of The Sopranos followed by sex, Lucy and Joseph realise they need to face the ‘real’ world, i.e. having dinners with Lucy’s teacher/architect/documentary film director friends and going to East End night-clubs with Joseph’s gang.
Their love story is played out against the backdrop of the days of the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump, which today almost seems like innocent times (not in our wildest dreams did we expect it to get this bad…). The main attraction for me, though, was Lucy and Joseph’s relationship and their valiant efforts in making their unconventional relationship be accepted as real to the outside world. Hornby makes it all believable with wonderfully conceived dialogue and his customary warm humour.
A bit of escapism can’t be a bad thing and this lovely little story does just that.
I can recommend the audiobook version of Just Like You. A perfect book to listen to while you do other things.
Just Like You by Nick Hornby is published by Viking, 320 pages.