Hornby’s High Fidelity features Rob Fleming, the thirty-five-year-old narrator who sees the world through not rose-tinted glasses but rather lenses with a gray tinge. Rob is a gloomy character, continually lacking in confidence and therefore constantly second-guessing himself. The novel begins with Rob listing (he makes a lot of lists, throughout the novel) the five most significant girls/women of his life. He is doing this because the most noteworthy of all, Laura Lydon, has just left him. Laura and Rob had been living together for two years. Rob makes this list of women to prove to himself (and to Laura) that Laura was not even close to causing him the biggest heartache. This is totally untrue; but it is the only way that Rob can lift his spirits.
The first girlfriend on Rob’s list is Alison Ashworth. She gave him his first kiss. The relationship lasted three days. Then Alison switched to the next guy on the playground bench. The second girl on the list is Penny Hardwick, who refused to give in to Rob’s sexual advances. Soon after as they broke up, Penny gave herself to the class Romeo, Chris Thomson. This sent Rob down a bumpy road as he tried to figure out why he had so little personal luck with women. Rob stole the third girl, Jackie Allen, from his best friend, Phil. Turns out that after Rob was victorious in this conquest, he lost interest in Jackie.
Then Rob’s reminiscing timeframe jumps ahead two years to 1977, when Rob was in college. He figured that this was a new level of his life. Girls he meets from now on are not going to know anything about his childhood unless he wants to tell them certain facts. These older, college girls will not be aware of all his past failures with females. The first college girl’s name was Charlie Nicholson, and right from the start Rob knew he was in way over his head. Charlie was beautiful, talented, intelligent, and very popular. The two of them stayed together for two years. All the while, Rob had trouble understanding what Charlie saw in him. Eventually Charlie must have questioned her reasoning too because she left Rob for a man named Marco.
Sarah Kendrew came next, in 1984. Rob explains his attraction to Sarah. Rob redefined himself after Charlie and came to the conclusion that he was merely average. What he found good about Sarah was that she was average too. Therefore, in this regard, he and Sarah got along because they were well matched. Also Sarah had recently been dumped. Both of them have low self-regard. But even Sarah, after two years with Rob, told him she had found another man.
Then Rob met Laura. But now Laura is gone. Rob says that Laura cannot hurt him because all these other women have already hurt him. He claims to be tougher than he used to be, though readers are quite aware that all he does...
(The entire section is 1151 words.)