Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Understudy by David Nicholls Review

This week's novel is David Nicholls' book, The Understudy. I've read Starter for Ten (hilarious) and One Day (loved Emma, hated Dexter, hated the ending), so I thought I should read and review the Understudy, just so I can say I have read Nicholl's complete works.

The Understudy David Nicholls Review
The Understudy chilling with the travel books

The Understudy: Plot


Stephen C. McQueen is an understudy to the famous and handsome Josh Harper. Stephen is a bit of a loser; he's divorced, lives in a fridge-less bed-sit and can only get jobs as a singing squirrel. Josh invites Stephen to a party he is holding, where Stephen meets Nora, Josh's wife and everything gets  a little bit complicated from there.


The Understudy: Best Bits


While it doesn't quite live up to its promise to be laugh out loud funny, some bits are quite amusing. The bit where Stephen steals Josh's Best Actor BAFTA is cringe-worthy, but funny. Stephen's daughter provides some comic relief as only children can when they're really embarrassed by their dad.

The Understudy is an easy read- the plot rattles along quickly and none of it drags. Nicholls is excellent at scene building and his dialogue is very convincing. 


The Understudy: Worst Bits


I hate to admit this, but I really disliked all of the characters. They were all irredeemably irritating in their own ways- Stephen was whiny and self-righteous, Josh pompous and Nora a manic pixie dream girl (this particular type of female character really riles me). I really didn't care about any of them either way and ambivalence is one of the worst emotions an author can provoke.

As for the humour, some of the jokes wear a little thin- especially the repeated comparison to the famous Steve McQueen. The phrase flogging a dead horse comes to mind... Then again, I'm sure he would get it all the time in real life, so it's probably quite realistic.


The Understudy: Fantasy Casting


The Understudy David Nicholls Fantasy Cast
My choices...Hollywood casting director here we come

Just for a laugh, here are my choices for who would play the main characters. Feel free to disagree, but it's just who I imagined when I was reading it:

Stephen: Ben Miller
Josh: Sam Claflin
Nora: Lena Headey

The Understudy: Final Review


Eh. Like Stephen's acting, it was ok, but not spectacular. It didn't "laugh out loud" as the cover promised, but I did finish the book. I personally think it's the worst of Nicholl's books, but being the worst of 3 is not necessarily terrible. If the characters had been a bit more sympathetic, then maybe I would have liked it more. By the end I was hoping for a repeat of the One Day ending, and that's not something that I would have ever thought I would hear myself say.

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