Funny Girl by Nick HornbySet in 1960s London, Funny Girl is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingenue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters.
Insightful and humorous, Nick Hornbys Funny Girl does what he does best: endears us to a cast of characters who are funny if flawed, and forces us to examine ourselves in the process.
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Novels should be like TV. It starts in , in northern England, where Barbara Parker is just about to win the Miss Blackpool pageant. The opening scene of wholesome poolside banter between Barbara and her father sets the tone. Look at you. Barbara, who adopts the stage name Sophie Straw, is not an especially dynamic character.
The Bottom Line is a weekly review combining plot description and analysis with fun tidbits about the book. A Nick Hornby book has become a minor pop cultural event. His novels High Fidelity and About a Boy , and his memoir Fever Pitch , all inspired wildly popular film adaptations, and About a Boy was recently brought to the small screen in the form of a sitcom starring Minnie Driver. His digestible blend of pop nerdery and heartwarming relationship growth sets his books apart from the average dude lit, and seems to scratch an itch shared widely by mass culture aficionados. By the second chapter, however, Barbara has vamoosed to London -- a very positive development for the ambitious character, but one that somehow sucks all the life out of the book. What follows are chapters and chapters of dull exposition delineating her transformation into the more fetchingly named Sophie Straw, her plum role on a major sitcom, her rise to immediate stardom, and her ultimate fading away into relative obscurity.
Miss Blackpool is the star of a fictional sitcom in Hornby's new novel might “slice through all the tedious hierarchies of the printed word”.
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His conclusion? It also lies behind his new novel, which is both a heartfelt defence and a wholly convincing example of what popular entertainment can achieve. When we first meet the funny girl of the title, she is called Barbara Parker and about to be named Miss Blackpool Fifteen minutes later, she renounces her crown and, within a week, heads to London to follow her dream of going on telly and making people laugh. In a grimmer novel, this would presumably be the cue for an unsparing depiction of dashed hopes, loneliness and despair. In this one, Barbara bumps into a theatrical agent, changes her name to Sophie Straw, and auditions for a new BBC sitcom about young married life where she so impresses its two writers that they immediately decide to rewrite the show around her. The 85 best books of
Barbara Parker is Miss Blackpool of , but she doesn't want to be a beauty queen. She only wants to make people laugh. So she leaves her hometown behind, takes herself off to London, and lands a life-changing audition for a new BBC comedy series. Overnight she becomes Sophie Straw: charming, gorgeous, destined to win the nation's hearts. Funny Girl is the story of a smash-hit TV show and the people behind the scenes: the writers, Tony and Bill, friends since national service and comedy obsessives; producer Dennis, Oxbridge educated, clever, mild and not-so-secretly devoted to his star actress Sophie; and dashing male lead Clive, who firmly believes he's destined for better things.