The Understudy by David Nicholls

In terms of books that are perfect as a holiday read – a funny, easy and entertaining read The Understudy is one of those finds that once you start, you don’t want to stop reading it. Author David Nicholls, writer of the book and film One Day and also Starter for Ten, writes a refreshing, yet also stereotypical novel that explores the life of a downbeat actor. Stephen C. McQueen dreams of being the next big thing – as popular as the famous Steve McQueen and then some. Unfortunately the reality is that the biggest thing he has done is voiced a children’s squirrel on an educational DVD, and it seems he is destined to be playing ‘Dead Corpse #1’ for the rest of his career.

Stephen’s struggling career, alongside his shambolic personal life quickly becomes more complicated with his current role as ‘Ghostly Figure’. His small role in a new West End play with handsome and famous Hollywood actor Josh Harper causes problems for Stephen, when he starts to fall in love with Josh’s wife Nora. What ensues in the rest of the book is comedic, laugh out loud and quite entertaining. The characters in the book are relatable – you feel sympathy for Stephen, but at times you do wish he would give up his acting career to save himself from the embarrassment. Nothing seems to go quite right for him in typical fashion and you find yourself laughing at him, rather than with him.

Overall, this book is a brilliant read – it left me chuckling out loud several times, and was an entertaining read – a genuine gem of a find.

“’Hey, you can love someone without actually being faithful to them, Steve,’” (p,283)

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