Book review – Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ .5 stars

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby is not the typical type of book I read. To be honest it is pretty far out of my comfort zone. I would call it a fictional memoir set mostly in the 1960s. The book opens with Sophie Straw (still named Barbara at the time) winning a beauty competition and being crowned Miss Blackpool. The moment the crown and sash are placed on Sophie, she knows that this is not the life for her. She wants to move to London and be a female comedienne. After handing over her crown to the runner-up Sophie packs her bags and heads to London. After several weeks of working at a department store and with no leads to the world of comedy Sophie meets Brian, an agent. Brian wants her to just be another pretty face in commercials, but Sophie has a dream. She wants to emulate her idol, Lucille Ball, and be on tv in a comedy. Sophie goes to many unsuccessful auditions before she meets Bill and Tony, radio writers who are trying to break into comedy tv. With a great group of colleagues and friends, Sophie becomes a tv sensation starring in her very own sitcom which runs for several seasons. The book closes on Sophie reuniting with Bill and Tony to write a reunion play for all the stars of the 50 year old tv program.

This novel reads like a true story. The life and laughter shown throughout makes you wish you were helping create the sitcom right along with the characters in the book. Each characters personality is reminiscent to real-life actors of the same time. The last chapters dealing with the reunion of the cast is bittersweet but mostly melancholy. Everyone has aged and is no longer in touch with their typical audience. The struggle to connect feels very real and is heart wrenching. I have never read a book that makes you seriously doubt the fictional aspects of it as much as this novel does. The writing is vivid and very relatable.

Recommendation: I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about actors of the 1960s or that time period in general. Similar books include: Searching for Grace Kelly by Michael Callahan, A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott, West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan, and Truth in Advertising by John Kenney

Purchase link:

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby


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