cover image Funny Girl

Funny Girl

Nick Hornby. Riverhead, $27.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-59420-541-5

Barbara Parker of 1960s Blackpool is a big fish in a small pond%E2%80%94beautiful, astute, and with aspirations of making it in television like her idol Lucille Ball. Upon moving to London, Barbara changes her name to Sophie and gets her big break. She walks in to an audition she's not suited for and leaves with the writers excited to pen a show specifically for her. The majority of Hornby's clever novel follows Sophie and her creative circle of friends through the success of the subsequent program on BBC. There's Clive, Barbara's foppish costar, Tony and Bill, the bantering and bickering writing partners who pen each episode, and Dennis, the producer who alternately fights for their program's creative direction and struggles to hide his growing fondness for Sophie, a woman he believes is completely out of his league. Hornby wonderfully captures the voice and rhythms of broadcast television of the time, and seems to delight in endless inversions of art imitating life imitating art, his characters inspiring and feeding upon the storylines they produce. The result is a delightful collection of characters that care as much as they harm, each struggling to determine who they want to be. (Feb.)