My latest book club meeting was to discuss our summer read; Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
Set in the golden era of light entertainment, Funny Girl tells the story of Barbara Parker. A girl from Blackpool who most would described as a bombshell. But there is more to Barbara than the curves and hair; she is funny and wants to be a comedian like her hero Lucille Ball. Barbara turns down her 1964 Miss Blackpool crown (keeping it would mean a year stuck in Blackpool) to escape to London where she changes her name to Sophie Straw and lands a role in a sitcom aptly called Barbara (and Jim).
From here the author is very clever. We only catch a glimpse of what Barbara (and Jim) is actually about, instead we are immersed in the lives of it's stars, Sophie and Clive, the script writers and production team and the ties that bind them together. Along the way the storyline shows us how it was virtually impossible to be openly gay in the 60's (you'd be arrested) and how difficult it was for a woman to break into the male dominated world of the BBC.
But the book doesn't take us too far down the rabbit hole of repression and inequality, instead it mirrors the tone of the era it is paying homage to. It makes us feel all wrapped up and cosy, like we are watching along at home on our sofas laughing along with the characters. Until the final chapter brings us back to reality proving that the laughs can't go on forever.
Overall I thought this book was charming and very very well grounded. I spent the first third of the book convinced Sophie Straw was a real person. It all 'feels' so right and captures the feel of sitcom so perfectly. I'd recommend if you are looking for a book to read which feels like an old friend coming over for a cuppa.
But I can't help wonder what on earth she was planning on doing with the teapot...
Artist, Baker and Blogger. Mum to my two beautiful, cheeky girls. Muddling my way through parenthood with equally cheeky Husband.