I wanted Funny Girl by Nick Hornby to be funnier. The book is well-written and certainly their is the smart turn-of-phrase now and then. But the book is a bit sad in the end. The story follows Sophie Straw, nee Barbara Parker, as she escapes Blackpool, England. Her ambition is to breakthrough the male comedic dominance on British TV in the 1960s.
With a combination of chutzpah and stunning looks, Straw lands at the right place and the right time. She bonds with a writing team looking to take a risk, a producer not entirely afraid of risk, and a co-star who needs the risk.
The story tells of their successes and the toll the years take on their lives. Their lives aren't necessarily sad, but it's sad to realize that magic moments rarely last. The book seems a bit like it was chopped from a much larger book, which I wouldn't mind reading. Maybe the non-comedy parts of their lives was more entertaining.
For a more rewarding look at British past life, there's David Hare's "Skylight" currently playing on Broadway. Transferred from the London stage, the play is set in the 1990s and stars Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan. The premise is a past love affair between the two, their age difference and havoc wreaked on all parties.
There is politics, loss, family and generations tackled in a terrific script. The actors are more than up to the task with Nighy pacing about the stage in tension. Mulligan is world weary beyond her years. Their ages do not reflect their respective maturity, but the flow of the evening constantly flip flops their roles.
Although the story is not exclusively a British one, the class and racial peculiarities of London are rigorously examined. The dialogue, which comes from tight writing and great acting is a rewarding night at the theatre.