by Nick Hornby
Five minutes after being crowned Miss Blackpool 1964, Barbara Parker has ditched the tiara and is off to London to make her fortune. A chance encounter, a shrewd change of name and one audition later sees Sophie Straw with her own BBC comedy series – and there the trouble starts. Sophie works with a team of producers, writers and actors all trying to make this funny girl even funnier, and the nation loves her. This is the swinging sixties: freedom and creativity are booming in London.
A book that has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, I finally decided to pick this up mainly because I am tackling my TBR pile (see previous post). I have read a few Nick Hornby books before, About a Boy and High Fidelity, I loved both and would read again (I’ve actually read High Fidelity 3x) I enjoyed the characters, flaws and all, the very british humour and the rawness of each novel, however unfortunately I didn’t get any of this with Funny Girl.
First of all I didn’t find it funny, the title of the book is Funny Girl, the synopsis says the main character is hilarious “trying to make a funny girl even funnier” and the whole novel is about writing comedy shows for the BBC. I didn’t laugh once, not even a snigger, chortle or smirk. Oh the irony!
I also wasn’t invested in any of the characters or the plot, both fell flat. The most interesting thing the main character Barbara/Sophie did in the entire novel was right at the beginning when she ditched the Miss Blackpool title. I thought the book would revolve around her and she would be this funny, driven, passionate character getting into trouble or situations in a comedic way. However it was just a lot of dull dialogue with characters such as Bill, Tony, and Dennis, the TV shows writers and producers moaning on about how to make ‘Barbara (and Jim)’ the TV show more funny and likeable and griping on about their failing marriages.
For a Hornby book it felt bland, I felt like there was so much potential a BBC comedy series, a funny main character, set in the creative carefree exciting times of London in the 1960’s but it just didn’t quite have that spark I expected for a Hornby book. By Part 2 of the novel I didn’t really care where the story was going, every time I was reading it I ended up going off into my dream world thinking about what I was having for lunch the next day; when I do that I know for a fact that I’m not enjoying the book.
What did I like about it?
I liked the fact Hornby weaved in real life characters and situations into the novel. The Prime Minister of the time, Harold Wilson and his Wife, Mick Jagger and Lucille Ball all made appearances and so did black and white photos of them throughout the book which was also a nice touch.
Overall, really disappointed with this Nick Hornby novel, not what I expected at all from the books I have enjoyed reading of his in the past. I’m still a Nick Hornby fan but not a fan of Funny Girl.
Have you read Funny Girl? What did you think of it? What Hornby books do you love? Get in touch. As always thanks for reading, Katie x