Short Review #8: Funny Girl by Nick Hornby (2015)

Reivew – 3 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: Funny Girl: A Novel
Author: Nick Hornby
Published: 2015 (Riverhead Books, New York. Originally published 2014)
Pages: 452 (Hardcover)
Genres: Fiction, Novel, Humor, Historical British Fiction, Adult
Link Here

Funny Girl on top of an outdoor coffee table

It is another week in these strange times! I still can’t get over the fact that I’m writing this review on a late weekday morning while sipping my coffee. I read through the book I’m reviewing this week pretty quickly. The title of this book, Funny Girl, made me think of one thing: the Barbara Streisand film Funny Girl (1968). I saw some reviews draw a parallel between Hornby’s book and the 1968 film, but honestly, I cannot agree. Both books focus on a girl who has a goal to make it in the entertainment industry, which was all I could draw a parallel between the two stories.

Funny Girl (2015) is written by a fairly popular British author that I have never read before. Hornby has written books that inspired films such as About a Boy, High Fidelity, A Long Way Down and Juliet, Naked. I have heard good things about his books in the past, and this eye-catching cover made it easy to spot in the library (while it was still open…).

What a terrible thing an education was, he thought, if it produced the kind of mind that despised entertainment and the people who valued it” – Nick Hornby, Funny Girl

Overall, this book was not bad. Definitely not my favorite, but the story was catching and provocative. Funny Girl was entertaining, insightful and full of dry British humor. The main character Sophie Straw a.k.a Barbara Parker is a woman from Blackpool who dreams of being a comedian in 1960s London, and winds up on a BBC TV comedy series. The story follows her adventures in TV, love and her rising stardom. Young and sometimes naive, Sophie is a simple character who is learning how to navigate her own life through her interactions with eccentric characters. I did not find the book very funny. There were many situational and dry humor moments, but this book is not a laugh-out-loud kind of funny. At first I was surprised that a book called Funny Girl would not be very funny. But funny is potentially used to describe the person Sophie was trying to become. I also wish there were more chapters on her adventures and career than the ones involving her love interests. Sophie is a dynamic and willful character, which I loved, but I also think ‘the naive young girl who tries to make it in the big city only with more intelligent men to navigate her’ trope is getting old for me.

…writers never felt they belonged anywhere. That was one of the reasons they became writers” – Nick Hornby, Funny Girl

I recommend Funny Girl if you’re looking for a very dry historical British comedy about the entertainment industry in 1960s London focusing on a female entertainer. This book for what it sounds is not the height of feminism, but the dialogue is intelligent and entertaining, and I very much enjoyed reading this one.

I give this book a 3 out of 5!


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