Funny Girl – Nick Hornby

From the bestselling author of High Fidelity, About a Boy, and A Long Way Down comes a highly anticipated new novel.

Set in 1960’s London, Funny Girl is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingĂ©nue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters. Insightful and humorous, Nick Hornby’s latest does what he does best: endears us to a cast of characters who are funny if flawed, and forces us to examine ourselves in the process.

An Amazon Best Book of the Month for February 2015

No, Nick Hornby’s latest is not a retelling of the story made famous by the old Barbara Streisand movie called Funny Girl – but the allusion to pop culture of the 1960s in this delightful novel is not coincidental. On the surface, this Funny Girl is about a working class English girl who comes of age as a TV star in the days of Carnaby Street, the Beatles, and the musical Hair; what it’s also about is the way the world turned over for everybody – but especially actors and writers — in that explosive era.

Sophie Straw is the gorgeous girl from Blackpool who, like Lucille Ball (to whom Hornby slyly introduces the starstruck Sophie in a late scene), is originally deemed too pretty to be funny; like Ball, she manages through wit, decency and pratfall to become her nation’s sweetheart. She’s a great character, and readers – like everyone in swinging London – will love her.

But if Sophie is the star, the rest of the population here – the hilariously narcissistic lover/co-star, the director who pines for Sophie for years, and, my favorite, the writers who give her her vehicles – are exceptional supporting players. And Hornby, who was a bit of a pop culture wunderkind himself, is wise about the way artists’ (especially writers’) careers morph and change, and what it’s like to define a cultural moment and then watch yourself live past it. — Sara Nelson