25 February 2015

Review: Funny Girl

Funny Girl
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Man, what a disappointment.

I'm going to get a little spoilery here, so fair warning if you don't want to know anything about the final scenes.

Anyway, Funny Girl. Nick Hornby might be my favorite non-genre author, if not my favorite author outright, so I've been waiting for the United States version of this for a while. Granted, I've been reading a lot of other things while picking away at this, but I almost certainly would have given up on this very quickly had it been written by someone else. It turns out that, at least for me, the tale of an actress and her co-stars on a well-regarded British sitcom just doesn't do it for me. It's sort of like trying to be a Mad Men of sorts with the era, but comes across more like The Casual Vacancy in tone as I couldn't really wrap my head around a lot of this and how British it was in parts. I fully recognize that the problem might have been me in this case, but I've never had this issue with Hornby before which makes me believe this might have just been a misstep.


This book, in US hardcover, is roughly 450 pages or so. If this was a short story that started on page 400 or so (in the final section when they're talking reunion), or even started the story out with the reunion and moved forward from there, I would have been much more engaged. In a sense, the story being told for the first 80% of the book felt like really frustrating, almost unimportant setup for what ended up being a pretty compelling finale. While I'm glad I read through the end for that, at least, it also served in making me dislike the first parts that much more.

Given the lack of buzz around this one in comparison to, say, Juliet, Naked from a few years back, I don't know what to say. I can't expect them all to be winners, and maybe this is a misstep and it's difficult to write a story about sitcom stars from the 1960s, but I wanted to enjoy this so much and it ended up being such a slog. I can't recommend it as much as I wish I could.

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