“Funny Girl”: And I Don’t Mean Barbra Streisand – A Book Review

Author of High Fidelity and Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby has said he believes reading novels ought not to be hard work any more than watching television is.  Certainly he has made good on this view with his latest novel, Funny Girl (2015), but has also, for good measure, set his narrative in the world of television: BBC television.  Not the BBC now, but the BBC of the Sixties (the beginning year is 1964), with the novel not so much about comely, ambitious Barbara Parker, the “funny girl” of the title, as about her and her cohorts as they mount a weekly sitcom.

To me the book is a page-turner, as Hornby wanted it to be, although like your typical TV show it doesn’t seem to be saying much.  In this it differs from High Fidelity.  All the same, I enjoyed the people and the dialogue in Funny Girl, despite the funny girl’s not being a fully realized character.  It’s a kick to see Barbara, a.k.a. Sophie, dissociating herself from the celebrity she physically resembles: Sabrina, a British pinup and actress born in 1936 and known for her splendid curves.

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