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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, February 2015 - Nick Hornby can do no wrong for me. I loved High Fidelity and About a Boy (yes, the books and the movies), and his "Stuff I’ve Been Reading" column from The Believer inspires me to add more books to my wish list. That’s why I’m super excited for Funny Girl, Hornby’s first novel since 2009. It’s set in 1960’s London – which I’d love to visit if only my time machine would let me – and takes a close look at the emerging pop culture and one young woman’s rise to fame. Emma Fielding seems perfectly matched to play the intrepid Sophie, and it’ll be interesting to see if Hornby’s writing style has changed since he’s been working on screenplays between novels. (Fun fact: Hornby wrote the screenplays for An Education, Wild, and Brooklyn, the upcoming adaption of Colm Toibin’s novel.) —Diana, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling 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 ingnue 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.

©2015 Nick Hornby (P)2015 Penguin

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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Wish I had a 2.5 star option

What did you like best about Funny Girl? What did you like least?

Started off fine, but didn't sustain my interest. Not sure why. Probably because I never really believed in the title character.

Would you recommend Funny Girl to your friends? Why or why not?

Probably not.

Did Funny Girl inspire you to do anything?

Go back to my library and look for something else to listen to.

Any additional comments?

From the decriptions it sounded like I would enjoy it. Listened to it on a road trip, but after about 5 hours I realized I just wasn't enjoying it. Possibly because the title character didn't seem real enough to care about, but wasn't out there enough to seem satirical.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amy
  • South Carolina
  • 03-12-15

Boring, uninteresting characters

I really didn't enjoy this, but it was short enough for me to push through. The characters were bland, at best. There was no transformation, which is what I expect from his characters...from any characters really.

The performance was fine, I enjoyed the narrators voice very much, actually.

All in all, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Fab first 9 hrs. so can forgive the last 1.3 hrs.

I loved this. Loved it, loved it, loved it, & then "meh", but that was ok since the rest was so fab. Hornby is obviously an astute watcher of people, as he picks up on details that make his characters real. I wish the narrator didn't almost whisper (most of) her lines. That seems to be how "posh" people (or those who wish to be thought of as "posh"...) narrate, these days; it's just irritable, after a while, to us listeners, with all that breath behind each word. But, if you liked any of Hornby's other books, you will like this, I PROMISE, & the whisper-reading will melt into the background of this tale.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • C.
  • 02-10-15

Hornby and Fielding isn't a good pairing.

It isn't Nick Hornby's best story but it is made worst by the anemic reading of Emma Fielding. Strong exchanges between characters like Bill and Tony were too often left with a bland feeling because if the narrator's choice to make them whisper at each other. I found it also difficult to distinguish the characters as many were rendered with the same sad, hopeless, hush tone.

If you have ten hours to spare, I'd recommend other books.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Brilliantly written and read

Fantastic from beginning to end. Sweet, sincere and moving characters from the first view in Blackpool to years later as the characters age. A joy to hear. The voice actor was amazing as she bounced from age to age, accent to accent and gender to gender. Hornby took us along entire lifetimes and I wanted to hug just about everyone in it from the start. No lost emotion here.

Tackling the new age of sitcoms and British society along with sexuality and love this book zipped along. Brilliant.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Dubi
  • New York, NY
  • 04-17-15

Imitation Game

Art imitates life and life imitates art in Nick Hornby's latest novel -- back and forth until using that old saw is no longer apt. Indeed, Hornby's characters, starting with Lucille Ball wannabe Sophie Straw (nee Barbara), start out crafting their mid-60s BBC sitcom based on their own life experience, and then, when it succeeds, mold the series to the needs of their real life, including the impact of their newfound celebrity.

To take it one step further -- and to state the main reason while I liked this book a lot, despite its decidedly mixed reviews -- the deeper theme is about the creative process, how one's own experience informs that process and how one's own life has to alter in order to maintain creativity over the long haul. Hornby does an excellent job exploring the nuances of creativity while drawing a team of engaging characters and mildly humorous episodes.

Funny Girl will not make fans forget High Fidelity or About a Boy, or even one of my personal favorites, Juliet Naked. But it is solidly in there with the remainder of Hornby's fiction (except for the woebegotten Slam). It is worth the price of admission just for the chapter about the stuffy talk show Pipe Smoke where Sophie's producer Dennis destroys his joyless old school counterpart on the subject of what constitutes appropriate TV material.

If I have one bone to pick, it is the relegation of the 1960s to a bit part, despite its indelible influence as a revolutionary cultural era that set the stage for the show within the book to break new ground. Yes, there is occasional reference to the Beatles, Stones and Yardbirds, and the even more groundbreaking sitcom Till Death Us Do Part (the model for the US hit All in the Family). But it would have been nice to have a better sense of what was going on at the time. In fact, it is often not even clear that the story is set during the heart of the 60s.

Nice job by Emma Fielding reading the book, especially reading Sophie's lines. A little too breathy on occasion, but otherwise spot on.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Droll and touching

A fond, acerbic look at youthful ambition, Swinging London, showbiz and the creative process, tied up with a big bright funny bow.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Typically I love Nick Hornby

What would have made Funny Girl better?

I've read everything Hornby has published. But this, my goodness, is tedious. He writes a lot about bad humor, bad jokes, the same old sight gags, double takes and unlikely coincidences, but this book which, I believe, is supposed to be funny, is an example of bad humor, bad jokes and the same old stuff.

Has Funny Girl turned you off from other books in this genre?

No.

What about Emma Fielding’s performance did you like?

It was a lively performance of unlively material. I tip my hat to the narrator.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The narrator was wonderful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic story, brilliant narration!

Hornby is at his best with this character driven story of actors, writers and producers on a BBC comedy sitcom in London in the early 1960.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Delightful surprise !

Funny Girl is an instant modern day classic..
Nick Hornby has a great talent in telling the most ordinary stories in an extraordinary lovingly way .. I loved !

7 of 10 people found this review helpful