Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of Funny Girl, the new novel by best-selling author Nick Hornby, read by Emma Fielding.
Funny Girl is the story of a popular 1960s tv comedy series. The writers are Tony and Bill, comedy obsessives, who each harbour a secret. The Oxbridge-educated director, Dennis, loves his job but hates his marriage. The male star, Clive, feels he's destined for better things. And most of all there is Sophie Straw, once Barbara Parker, Miss Blackpool 1964, who's changed her name and abandoned her old life because she just wants to make people laugh, like her heroine Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy fame.
Nick Hornby's new novel is about popular culture, youth and old age, fame, class, and teamwork. It offers a wonderfully captivating portrait of youthful exuberance and creativity, and of a period when both were suddenly allowed to flourish.
©2014 Nick Hornby (P)2014 Penguin Books Limited
This ranks in the top 5 of the hundreds of audiobooks I have listed to. Emma Fielding's performance is exquisite. The way she creates the voices for the characters let me go deep into the story. Nick Hornby's story is charming, moving very funny and as someone who grew up in the 60's was a wonderful journey into the times. I have already recommended this book to various friends.
Having read "High Fidelity" and other Nick Horrnby novels I approached this with high expectations. I kept waiting for the real novel, insight and themes to develop but they never arrived.
The book - I hesitate to use the term novel - is a fairly straightforward account of the career of a girl who progresses from Blackpool bathing beauty to TV sit-com star. Relationships with fellow actors, writers and producers come along but, with no real plot or thematic issues and no basis in reality, they are hardly even of passing interest. Why care? I didn't.
There is a slight background of other, real shows in the heyday of TV sit-com but no real or unexpected insight. If this had been the story of a real actress in a real show, rather than weak fiction, it might have had some limited interest. As a work of fiction, it seemed pointless.
Long term book junkie only recently addicted to audio books. Now my iPod and I are inseparable.
Reading “Funny Girl” was like meeting an old friend and being reminded all over again why you liked them so much in the first place. With wit, optimism and gentle compassion, Nick Hornby summons up the zeitgeist of Britain in the 1960s and 70s through the medium of TV comedy on the BBC.
Like Hornby himself, I was a child in the 1960s, so I missed some of then nuances of BBC comedy, failing to see what was daring and subversive but still understanding what was truly funny.
Hornby helped me to remember what it was like at the start of the 60s when we had only two TV channels in England,the BBC and ITV. EVERYBODY watched the same programs and discussed them the next day because those were the only programs available. I was seven when BBC 2 went on air in 1964 but I couldn’t watch it because we didn’t have a telly that could cope with the fancy 625 line UHF transmission. We were still watching a small box with a big tube that used the much lower definition 405 line VHF transmission. Of course, back then, everything was in glorious black and white. Even so, programs like the BBC’s Comedy Playhouse attracted huge audiences and launched series that EVERYONE watched (Steptoe and Son, launched by the Comedy Playhouse, attracted audiences of up to 28 million – about half of the population of the UK at the time).
“Funny Girl” tells the story of Barbara, a young woman from “up North” who declines to accept the title of Miss Blackpool and moves south to London to follow in the footsteps of her idol, Lucille Ball and become a comedian. She clicks with the writers of a new show for the BBC, they re-write the show as showcase for her and her career takes off.
As we follow Barbara’s career from ingénue through comic star to redoubtable Dame of British Television, Nick Hornby helped me understand the transitions that Britain was going through and the role comedy played in helping audiences to understand themselves.
I was deeply impressed by Nick Hornby’s ability to write a novel that often made me laugh but which is centred around very believable, very human characters, with strengths and flaws and personality quirks, who he describes with a compassion that comes very close to love and which generates a possibility of hope that I found very affecting.
This well written book was made even better in audio by a superb performance by Emma Fielding who got every voice and every accent absolutely right and amplified the value of every page.
A better story line, believable characters.
Yes, it was the book that was disappointing.
The characters and the dialogue between the characters. My fear that the story was descending into a typical love story where everybody would end up happy ever after.
I would have gone with Bill's suggestion of describing a non typical family cell in 70's England.
Thought it was excellent.
Good book and very easy read. Not as good as How to be good or slam but still worth the 10 hour investment.
Um, I quite liked this book as a different type of reading. I am working through my addiction to thrillers but have a cut off point of 7pm, when I switch to lighter material. This was pleasant, slow paced and very easy listening, although I had to keep re-winding after nodding off. Not really a good sign if a book sends you to sleep. But still, I liked it.
This is the account for Rachel (36) & Val (67). Big interest in crime - particularly British & European but also all current fiction.
Certainly not the narration!
Probably the banter which Barbara shared with the sitcom writers, director and actors. That added real humour.
I also appreciated all the details and locations in London and it brought back some lovely memories when I spoke to my parents about this.
Rather unique really.
Couldn't really engage with the narrator. Despite thoroughly enjoying this book the lack of feeling and emotion from the narrator dragged this one down. Towards the end my attention was wandering.. Didn't do justice to a great book.
For me this didn't quite hit the mark and this was purely due to the performance and delivery.
A great book. Not as funny as Hornby's other stuff but very well observed and I even shed a tear at one point. Narrator is excellent.
Definitely, especially to someone who experienced the 1960's, as I did, and remember those 'must-stay-in-nights' when a TV programme was not to be missed.
The believable characterisations of the protagonists and the addition of real personalities to those of Mr Hornby's imagination.
Sophie/Barbara, of course!
Brilliantly read by Emma Fielding. Perhaps there was a lack of a darker side to the story but then again perhaps that is what made it so enjoyable and non-angst ridden.
"An ok entertainment"
Not the best Hornby but still a good listen. Rather enjoyed the readers performance. Good language as always from Hornby
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