Funny Girl

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1st edition US hardcover.

Funny Girl is a novel written by Nick Hornby and published on 2014-11-06. The story takes place in the 1960s, and is about a woman named Barbara living in Blackpool, England. She adores Lucille Ball and longs to be a comedian, but, because she looks like a bikini model, her dream is not taken seriously. Rather than stay in her small town and be a big fish in a small pond, she pools all her available money, leaves her aging father, and moves to London to try and get on television. She may not be that bright, but she's willing to do what it takes, even changing her name, to work in comedy.

Status

I own a first edition US hardcover and have read it.

Review

Good

  • Over all, I really enjoyed this book. It was never boring and there are several laugh-out-loud passages.
  • The TV series feels real, and I think I would like watching it, even today.
  • The book is not really about any one character, but more about the ensemble. I kind of like this, as it fits the style of situational comedy TV shows the book is about.
  • The period photos helped to put the book's temporal setting in focus.
  • It's interesting to learn about the difficulties that gay men faced in 1960s England when it was still illegal to be gay.
  • I like how the book has nice closure by bringing back the cast of "Barbara (and Jim)" for a final reunion, and, even though everyone has matured and become seasoned, they're still very much the same as they always were.

Bad

  • Part of the problem of not focusing on a single character is how the book seems a little aimless at times. Several of the characters feel like they could have been edited out and the story would have been more punchy (Sophie's mother, her flat mate, etc.) They do add to the humanity of Sophie, but such a purpose could have been served by any of the main characters as well.
  • I didn't like how Sophie and Dennis ended up together. Sophie seemed way too out-going, driven, and good looking to settle for a boring average-looking man like Dennis. Especially considering she would have been sought after by all sorts of equally out-going, talented, and good looking men.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Quotes

  • "You've got the bosom, the waist, the hair, the legs, the eyes . . . If I thought that murdering you with a meat cleaver, this minute, would get me half what you've got, I'd slice you up with out a second's thought and watch you bleed to death like a stuck pig." "Thank you," said Barbara.
  • She wasn't the sort of catch one could take home and show off to people; she was the sort of catch that drags the angler off the end of the pier and pulls him out to sea before tearing him to pieces as he's drowning.
  • "It's not supposed to be you and me," he said. "It just started to go that way, and I didn't feel I could stop it without giving too much away." "Are they going to sort it all out in the end?" "Yes." "Them I will enjoy watching it," said June.
  • "I'm going to be like her," said Sophie. "People are going to have to throw me out." "They will," said Clive. "That's what happens."
  • "Can she have a miscarriage before the next series?" said Bill. "Or an abortion? Are abortions funny?" "Ask a woman who's died of septicemia after having knitting needles stuck into her," said Dennis. "She wouldn't hear me," said Bill.
  • Being at the top of your career was like being at the top of a Ferris wheel: you knew that you had to keep moving, and you knew which way you were going. You had no choice.
  • Clive was rapidly coming to the conclusion that being engaged to somebody meant that he spent an awful lot of time not doing the things he wanted to do.
  • "Did you marry him?" "No. He was happy as we were. He could have his cake and eat it." Nobody walking past them in the Ritz would ever have described her mother as cake. She was bread and butter, Sophie could see that now.
  • Years later, Tony would discover that writers never felt they belonged anywhere. That was one of the reasons they became writers. It was strange, however, failing to belong even at a party full of outsiders.

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