I loved this book. I devoured it. I devoured it rapidly like a box of chocolates, if I were going to eat an entire box of chocolates at once, which I would not do because it’s a bad idea. I always enjoy Nick Hornby’s books and this is one of my favourites. It’s the story of Barbara from Blackpool, who changes her name to Sophie Straw when she goes to London in the mid-1960s seeking a career in comedy. Ironically, she ends up as Barbara from Blackpool again when she lucks into a starring role in a BBC sitcom. This is a story about an ambitious young woman and the behind-the-scenes world of the BBC in the golden age of television.
It’s not just Sophie’s story — Hornby handles an omniscient point of view with ease and allows the story to unfold through several points of view, mostly through the men who are Sophie’s coworkers. But Sophie is the engine that drives the story — her energy, her ambition, the genuine joy she finds in her job. This book is not only funny and engaging but is driven by Hornby’s signature ability to tease out the nuances of what characters are thinking beneath the surface of what they’re saying and doing. This book was a joy to read, and I only wish it had been longer.