In 1960’s England, 18-year-old Barbara wins a local beauty pageant in Blackpool. But spending a year as a small-town beauty queen isn’t want she wants. She’s dreaming of stardom and wanting to follow in the footsteps of the incredible Lucille Ball. So she sets off for London where she starts out as a salesgirl and ends up a television star. But real life never plays out the way it does on television, and along with her friends and workmates Tony, Bill, Dennis, and Clive, Sophie experiences the highs and lows of stardom and breaking television barriers.
Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby, is an humorous novel about a colourful cast of characters in the early days of television. Fans of Lucille Ball and British humour will be wonderfully entertained.
Nick Hornby is one of those authors who I must read every book they release as soon as it is released. He is also one of those authors who I love everything they put out. And yet, if you ask me to tell you what his previous books are about, I’m at a loss for words. I have no clue why this happens, and I’m not even sure what that has to do with this review, I just thought I’d share.
Anyways, as soon as I heard about Funny Girl, I knew I wanted to read it, not just for the reason I mentioned above, but because I’m one of those people who devoured episodes of I Love Lucy as a child (in reruns I feel I should mention) and will still laugh until my sides hurt every time I see an episode. I was hoping this book would give me those same feelings and it definitely achieved this.
I love old television comedies and I love British comedies and thus the plot and setting of this book was perfect for me. It was so much fun to go behind the scenes of a television show I’m sure I would watch if it were real. The only thing I found about this book that limited my enjoyment of it was I really couldn’t understand most of the cultural references due to my not being born until a few decades later and also not being English. I think if you have that going for you and you are a lover of all things television, then you will really enjoy this book. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t read the book if you can’t relate to the culture or time, just be warned there are a lot of unfamiliar references.
The reviews of this book are all over the map. Some people are absolutely loving it, some people aren’t, many feel that this isn’t a typical Hornby novel. I can’t compare it to previous Hornby novels because all I can remember about them is that I loved them. It is definitely a long book that probably could have been shorter. But I still recommend this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it actually broke me out of a reading slump. Despite the length I breezed through it because I was all wrapped up in it. And I will wait for and read Hornby's next novel with much excitement because I will remember that I enjoyed this one very much.