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Funny Girl

By: Nick Hornby
Narrated by: Emma Fielding
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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

THE INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLER SOON TO BE A TV SERIES STARRING GEMMA ARTERTON AND RUPERT EVERETT

Make them laugh, and they're yours forever....

Barbara Parker is Miss Blackpool of 1964, but she doesn't want to be a beauty queen. She wants to make people laugh.

So she leaves her hometown behind, takes herself to London, and overnight she becomes the lead in a new BBC comedy, Sophie Straw: charming, gorgeous, destined to win the nation's hearts.

Funny Girl is the story of a smash-hit TV show and the people behind the scenes. But when life starts imitating art, they all face a choice. How long can they keep going before it's time to change the channel?

©2014 Nick Hornby (P)2014 Penguin Books Limited

Critic reviews

"Simply unputdownable." (Guardian

"Hilarious." (Daily Telegraph

"Warm, funny, touching...winningly perceptive about human relationships and changing social trends." (Daily Telegraph

What listeners say about Funny Girl

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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What A Disappointment!

Having read "High Fidelity" and other Nick Horrnby novels I approached this with high expectations. I kept waiting for the real novel, insight and themes to develop but they never arrived.

The book - I hesitate to use the term novel - is a fairly straightforward account of the career of a girl who progresses from Blackpool bathing beauty to TV sit-com star. Relationships with fellow actors, writers and producers come along but, with no real plot or thematic issues and no basis in reality, they are hardly even of passing interest. Why care? I didn't.

There is a slight background of other, real shows in the heyday of TV sit-com but no real or unexpected insight. If this had been the story of a real actress in a real show, rather than weak fiction, it might have had some limited interest. As a work of fiction, it seemed pointless.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A complete delight!

Any additional comments?

This ranks in the top 5 of the hundreds of audiobooks I have listed to. Emma Fielding's performance is exquisite. The way she creates the voices for the characters let me go deep into the story. Nick Hornby's story is charming, moving very funny and as someone who grew up in the 60's was a wonderful journey into the times. I have already recommended this book to various friends.

6 people found this helpful

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Gentle, funny, compassionate book

Reading “Funny Girl” was like meeting an old friend and being reminded all over again why you liked them so much in the first place. With wit, optimism and gentle compassion, Nick Hornby summons up the zeitgeist of Britain in the 1960s and 70s through the medium of TV comedy on the BBC.

Like Hornby himself, I was a child in the 1960s, so I missed some of then nuances of BBC comedy, failing to see what was daring and subversive but still understanding what was truly funny.

Hornby helped me to remember what it was like at the start of the 60s when we had only two TV channels in England,the BBC and ITV. EVERYBODY watched the same programs and discussed them the next day because those were the only programs available. I was seven when BBC 2 went on air in 1964 but I couldn’t watch it because we didn’t have a telly that could cope with the fancy 625 line UHF transmission. We were still watching a small box with a big tube that used the much lower definition 405 line VHF transmission. Of course, back then, everything was in glorious black and white. Even so, programs like the BBC’s Comedy Playhouse attracted huge audiences and launched series that EVERYONE watched (Steptoe and Son, launched by the Comedy Playhouse, attracted audiences of up to 28 million – about half of the population of the UK at the time).

“Funny Girl” tells the story of Barbara, a young woman from “up North” who declines to accept the title of Miss Blackpool and moves south to London to follow in the footsteps of her idol, Lucille Ball and become a comedian. She clicks with the writers of a new show for the BBC, they re-write the show as showcase for her and her career takes off.

As we follow Barbara’s career from ingénue through comic star to redoubtable Dame of British Television, Nick Hornby helped me understand the transitions that Britain was going through and the role comedy played in helping audiences to understand themselves.

I was deeply impressed by Nick Hornby’s ability to write a novel that often made me laugh but which is centred around very believable, very human characters, with strengths and flaws and personality quirks, who he describes with a compassion that comes very close to love and which generates a possibility of hope that I found very affecting.

This well written book was made even better in audio by a superb performance by Emma Fielding who got every voice and every accent absolutely right and amplified the value of every page.

3 people found this helpful

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Good read. Not one of his best.

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

The characters and the dialogue between the characters. My fear that the story was descending into a typical love story where everybody would end up happy ever after.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I would have gone with Bill's suggestion of describing a non typical family cell in 70's England.

What about Emma Fielding’s performance did you like?

Thought it was excellent.

Any additional comments?

Good book and very easy read. Not as good as How to be good or slam but still worth the 10 hour investment.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Couldn't finish it as lost interest.

What would have made Funny Girl better?

A better story line, believable characters.

Has Funny Girl put you off other books in this genre?

No

Would you be willing to try another one of Emma Fielding’s performances?

Yes, it was the book that was disappointing.

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

No

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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An everyday story of television folk

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely, especially to someone who experienced the 1960's, as I did, and remember those 'must-stay-in-nights' when a TV programme was not to be missed.

What did you like best about this story?

The believable characterisations of the protagonists and the addition of real personalities to those of Mr Hornby's imagination.

Which character – as performed by Emma Fielding – was your favourite?

Sophie/Barbara, of course!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

Brilliantly read by Emma Fielding. Perhaps there was a lack of a darker side to the story but then again perhaps that is what made it so enjoyable and non-angst ridden.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Funny Girl

Um, I quite liked this book as a different type of reading. I am working through my addiction to thrillers but have a cut off point of 7pm, when I switch to lighter material. This was pleasant, slow paced and very easy listening, although I had to keep re-winding after nodding off. Not really a good sign if a book sends you to sleep. But still, I liked it.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Magical story - poor narration,

What did you like most about Funny Girl?

Certainly not the narration!

Probably the banter which Barbara shared with the sitcom writers, director and actors. That added real humour.

I also appreciated all the details and locations in London and it brought back some lovely memories when I spoke to my parents about this.

What other book might you compare Funny Girl to, and why?

Rather unique really.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Couldn't really engage with the narrator. Despite thoroughly enjoying this book the lack of feeling and emotion from the narrator dragged this one down. Towards the end my attention was wandering.. Didn't do justice to a great book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Sadly not.

Any additional comments?

For me this didn't quite hit the mark and this was purely due to the performance and delivery.

1 person found this helpful

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Snore

Totally forgettable waste of my time. Usually a fan of Hornby but this predictable drivel just didnt do it for me.

1 person found this helpful

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Hornby Fans Won't be Disappointed

A great book. Not as funny as Hornby's other stuff but very well observed and I even shed a tear at one point. Narrator is excellent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 31-03-19

A bit disappointed

I don't know if it's because it's the first audio book I've listened to, or some other reason, but I really couldn't get into the story as much as with every other Nick Hornby book I've read. I saw it through to the end, but have to admit I tuned out at times and struggled to get to the end. Having said that, I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading or listening to it, it just wasn't my cup of tea on this occasion.

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  • Ani Kellomäki
  • 14-04-15

An ok entertainment

Not the best Hornby but still a good listen. Rather enjoyed the readers performance. Good language as always from Hornby