The title of this post must have intrigued you. It should intrigue you. It’s Nick Hornby. I think many of you would be hard pressed not to have encountered some form of work written by Nick Hornby in your day. I’ll just name a few to make my point;
- Fever Pitch
- About a Boy
- A Long Way Down
- High Fidelity
- The screenplay for Wild
See what I mean. This man is responsible for some of our favourite books and films, so I hope you take my advice and get to your local bookstore stat, especially after having read the rave review I’m about to share with you below.
Funny Girl is the story of Barbara/ er, um Sophie. Wait, let me explain. Barbara Parker is a beautiful young woman who’s destined for more than the crown she receives in the Miss Blackpool beauty competition. It’s 1964 and Barbara is an admirer of Lucille Balle, she loves that Lucy has the ability to make people laugh until they cry. She’s convinced that if given the right opportunity, she could make people laugh too. So, with nothing to lose, she packs it all up and moves to London.
She’s convinced herself that with a name like Barbara, she’ll have a hard time finding any work, so she changes her name to Sophie Straw. She then has a chance encounter with an agent and goes for an audition for a new BBC comedy series. It’s a miracle that when she walks in the room she gets to meet Bill and Tony, the two writers of the show they’re trying to develop. Her wit, charm and hilarious personality wins them all over and voila, she’s the star of their new show. Knowing that show will rely heavily on Sophie Straw’s hilarious personality, they need the TV character to have a simple name, something plain and unambitious. Imagine Sophie’s surprise when the name Barbara is chosen and the main character will be from Blackpool – hilarious. It just goes to show you that can run, but you can’t always hide.
Instead of just focusing on Sophie’s story, it also focuses on other key characters in this story. Tony and June, a couple that have only had sex a number of times based on the fact that Tony is gay. Bill who is gay, but hiding in the closet, because it’s the 1960’s. Clive, the ever loveable man that plays the role of Jim, Barbara’s husband, who just can’t figure it out no matter how hard he tries. In true Hornby style, this loveable bunch appear to have it figured out… but not really. The book makes reference to the ride of fame being like a ferris wheel. When you’re on it, it’s the best and you’re sitting at the top looking down at everyone. But you (and everyone else on the ride) knows that eventually you will come down. It’s what you do when you start your decline that really matters.
The 1960’s setting, behind the scenes of the entertainment industry and fun pictures of Mick Jagger and Lucille Ball throughout, this book has a little something for everyone. Oh and did I mention, it’s comedy genius. You’ll find yourself laughing at the ironic situations each character finds themselves in on every page of Funny Girl. To help make my point, I encourage you to check out this excerpt.
Now, go. Run if you have to. Just get yourself to the bookstore and pick up this charming and hilarious book.