The estimable writer sets his latest on familiar turf. Funny Girl takes
place in London in 1964 and revolves around Barbara Parker, a beautiful
young woman whose life at the beginning of the book has been highlighted by
winning the Miss Blackpool pageant. But she wants more and, eager to shed the
trappings of her small-town existence, flees to London.
She is an actress undiscovered, and with equal amounts nervousness and
adrenaline, she tries to break into the business. She is discovered--more to
do with her physical assets than any acting abilities--and lands an agent.
She auditions for apart on a new BBC television series to be titled "Wedded
Bliss" and gets it.
The book deals with her skyrocketing popularity and all the attendant pomp,
privilege, and drama that such success engenders. Hornby beautifully captures
the essence of the period--even namechecking Keith Relf, lead singer of the
Yardbirds, a very hip and mod band of the time--by describing the clubs and
culture of the period.
Hornby is a fun writer. His words fall effortlessly across the page, and only
a novelist of profound talent can make that happen. This may not have the
staying power of High Fidelity or About a Boy, but it is an estimable
contribution to the Hornby catalog.