The setting for Hornby’s novel High Fidelity is London. The time is somewhere in the 1990s. Understanding that the narrator is thirty-five-years old also helps set the stage. Rob Fleming is inching away from his prime. However, he clings to the music of the 1970s and early 1980s, the soundtrack of his youth.
Much of the story takes place inside Rob’s second-hand record shop the Championship Vinyl. It is in his store that Rob feels most comfortable, though it is unclear if Rob ever feels really relaxed. Rob spends most of his time in the back storeroom of the shop and has little interest in customers. His buddies Barry and Dick deal with the few customers that do come in.
Rob also has a rather dingy apartment. But since Laura has left him, he spends as little time as possible there. It is in his apartment, though, that Rob stores his favorite records, and he has a lot of them. To help him get over Laura, Rob takes his whole collection down off the shelves and reorganizes them.
His childhood was spent in a working-class neighborhood that Rob does not remember too fondly. He visits his parents, but there is not much understanding in their relationship. He does not go back to this neighborhood very often.
A lot of the novel also takes place inside Rob’s head. He reminisces a lot as well as over-analyzes everything that has ever happened to him. His thoughts keep him from truly experiencing the present moment because he is too busy worrying about how he is coming across and what other people are thinking about him. When he does go out to a club, even though he does not like to be alone in his apartment, he is always anxious to leave.