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The Understudy Paperback – 11 Sep 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; New Ed edition (21 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340935219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340935217
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.7 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Nicholls trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. His TV credits include the third series of Cold Feet, Rescue Me, and I Saw You, as well as a much-praised modern version of Much Ado About Nothing and an adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, both for BBC TV. David has continued to write for film and TV as well as writing novels, and he has twice been nominated for BAFTA awards.

David's bestselling first novel, STARTER FOR TEN, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2004, and David has written the screenplays for film versions of both STARTER FOR TEN (released in 2006, starring James McAvoy) and THE UNDERSTUDY (not yet released).

David Nicholls' third novel, ONE DAY, was published in hardback in 2009 to extraordinary critical acclaim, and stayed in the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list for ten weeks on publication. It has since gone on to sell over 2 million copies and has been translated into thirty-seven languages. ONE DAY won the 2010 Galaxy Book of the Year Award. David wrote the screenplay for Lone Scherfig's film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway, which was released in 2010.

David's fourth novel, US, has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014.

Product Description

Review

Sharply funny...wonderfully chaotic. (The Times)

An entertaining follow-up to Nicholls' brilliant debut. (Heat)

I adored "The Understudy". It's a fantastic comedy ... delightfully written. (New Woman)

A zippy comedy with laugh-out-loud lines, grounded on a solid plot and first-rate dialogue...irresistible. (Daily Mail)

Book Description

A comedy masterpiece from the bestselling author of ONE DAY and STARTER FOR TEN.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Sam Holliday VINE VOICE on 11 Jun. 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a sucker for a good modern, intelligent, well-written comedy. And I use the word 'sucker' advisedly because I have been let down by so many blurbs on the back of books which promise all of the above as well as the ubiquitous 'laugh out loud' lie. Well I can genuinely say David Nicholls is in danger of making the phrase 'laugh out loud' credible again.
I loved his first book - Starter for Ten - about one student's burning quest to get on University Challenge and I feared he could not match that with this, his second novel. But he has - big style.
This is another excellent, stylish modern day comedy which 'stars' a young, desperate-for-success jobbing actor whose only real claim to fame is his name - Steve McQueen. That, however, seems the only way he will ever sees 'his' name in lights as he spends his days as an understudy for a God-like West End actor and fills in with excruciating bit-parts in children's videos and even as a 'what's my motivation' dead person in a TV murder plot.
This is a lovely book which seems very knowing about the 'luvvy' acting world without ever patronising it and is full of great characters and genuinely funny set-pieces. And for once this is a comedy book that does exactly what it says on the tin - it is witty, warm and very, very readable. David Nicholls is a writer to cherish. Already.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 21 July 2006
Format: Paperback
...but I'll be generous, as this is a very likeable book which both I and my wife enjoyed - indeed, I stayed up late last night to finish it, which must be a good sign.

And yet, I can see why people have been a bit grudging in their praise. It doesn't quite fully satisfy somehow - possibly it could do with editing down a little, and the ending isn't as clear-cut as you might like. The whole thing feels a little out of focus, and doesn't make the most of the situations and characters that are created.

But there is a lot more good stuff than bad, and it's very well-written. I think what chiefly drew me back each night is the central character and the pleasant, sincere, knowing authorial voice that Mr Nicholls creates for him... and a sneaking empathy for the fear of never quite "making it" that all of us late thirty-something males have.

Buy it, because it's still better than 90% of the other "light entertainment" books out there.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By SilentSinger TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 May 2009
Format: Paperback
It's always difficult reviewing a book which lists all of the critics positive reviews on the jacket, but here goes. I was interested in this book because I've seen the film of 'Starter for 10' and am now reading the book, but decided to read Nicholls' follow up first to see if he's a good a writer as he's cracked up to be and my verdict is that he's excellent.

The plot of this novel focuses around a kind of anti-hero, struggling actor/understudy/dead body/dancing squirrel Stephen C. McQueen (the C is at the insistence of his agent so he's not confused by the late movie star)and his relationship with his leading man, the 12th sexiest man on the planet, Josh Harper, and Stephen's growing attraction to Josh's wife Nora. In many ways, it serves as a pastiche of celebrity culture and exposes it for what it really is and the juxtoposition between the nerdy, introspective and slightly prissy Stephen and the 'action man' Josh is nicely crafted. I do think Nicholls has a talent for writing dialogue which many authors lack and this can be attributed to his concurrent career as a screenwriter.

I loved this book and was disappointed when it finished. I'd recommend it to all as it's such a good read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Metropolly on 1 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
David Nicholls writes a great Everyman story, and I can't understand the reviews that say his hero doesn't do anything. Yes, he's a man-child living in a state of suspended animation - but that's the whole point, isn't it? He's been chasing the dream so long he doesn't realise it isn't his real dream any more. Josh has achieved the dream, and he also has the real prize - Nora. Through experience and disappointment, Stephen learns that the prize has greater value than the dream. It's a great story, told with great humour and humanity.

I'm annoyed with all the negative comparisons with One Day. The Understudy is properly funny, with some great lines, brilliant set pieces and characters you can actually see.

There are perhaps a couple of loose ends left hanging - for example, by the end Nora still doesn't know about the Deal. What happens when she finds out? But it's a great read, really gripping and literally knuckle-biting at times
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By KateP on 24 Jun. 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is my first Amazon review - I just had to write it as this book is just so brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed Starter for Ten, Nicholls' previous book, but this was even better.
The original plot is a page turner, and it is genuinely laugh out loud funny. I have never read a book described as "laugh out loud funny" and actually laughed out loud - until this one. Some of his descriptions of the characters are wonderful. He mentions little mannerisms which just sum them up so completely.
This is a wonderful light read. Buy it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By SoozUK on 4 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
Having just finished the magical 'One Day', my first experience of Nicholls, and been left bereft when the characters left me at the end of the final page I was eager to read the rest of his books. I'm an actress in my mid-twenties and the blurb of 'The Understudy' was instantly incredibly appealing. I thought, "this has been written for me!". But I was wrong. Here are the problems that, as a jobbing actress, I had with 'The Understudy'. Stephen McQueen's career doesn't look that bad and his dwellings don't add up....yes, to any reader the prospect of sitting in a room for months on end never getting to play a part that a world-famous film-star is playing each night looks bleak but the fact is it's a job many young actors (and at 32, Stephen McQueen is still a young actor) would kill and maim for, and the salary of that combined with all the other bits and pieces that are mocked throughout the book (playing a singing squirrel, playing a asthamtic cyclist) don't actually add up to a laughable CV. This is something that the former-actor Nicholls would know. The description of his horrible fridgeless bedsit is very funny but it's just too awful for someone on a West End salary (which would be a minimum of £500 a week) to continue living (it sounds like a £165 a week bedsit to me....). So as dull as all these problems I had with the book are to hear about, roll your eyes all you want, they were little niggles I just couldn't quite get past as I read the trials and tribulations of Stephen McQueen. There is plenty to like, maybe even love, in the book. The dialogue is exceptional (it's no surprise that Nicholls has written for the screen), the characters are beautifully drawn and there IS plenty of truth in the piece. However, the book just sort of.....ends.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!
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