Funny Girl (Hardcover)$27.95ISBN-13: 9781594205415
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Hardcover, 2/2015Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl is funny. Not sad funny like the “Funny Girl” of Streisand fame but sunny funny. It’s not just that Barbara, the protagonist, is funny, it’s that she wants the world to know it. In 1964 she’s chosen Miss Blackpool, but her reign is brief. Five minutes, and she hands back her tiara, fleeing Blackpool forever. Barbara has grown up listening to “I Love Lucy” on the tube and wants to be Lucille Ball. To make people laugh. The fact that most people—or at least most men—are interested only in Barbara’s shape, which is statuesque, and her attractive face, makes her mad. But she’s determined, and when she meets an agent who wants her to model, she makes a deal with him: One month of auditioning for parts and if she doesn’t land anything she’ll do things his way. He gives her a new name, Sophie Straw, and off she goes.
It comes as no surprise to the reader that Sophie lands her dream job. Two playwrights, one openly gay—or at least as open as anyone could be in 1964 London—and one uncertain about his sexuality, have penned a successful sitcom and are trying to write another. When they and the director ask her to read for a part, Sophie takes one look at the script—which is terrible —and starts to laugh. At first all is silence, but before long they’re all laughing. A plot emerges from their bantering—one involving a brash young girl from Blackpool named Barbara.
The highs and lows of this new sitcom as it progresses from season to season, the highs and lows of the involved characters over time, make for an often riotous and as often touching book. Hornby has a knack for softening us up with laughter and then delivering some home truths—not just about the flawed cast surrounding our heroine but about Barbara/aka/Sophie/aka/ Barbara, too. No one escapes Hornby’s scalpel, but the reader walks away laughing nonetheless. If you’re looking for a gift guaranteed to make your Valentine smile today, Funny Girl is it.
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