LUCKY BREAK: Esther Freud
Pub: Bloomsbury, 04 04 11
RRP: 11.99 gbp
Review: Rod Dungate 07 04 11
(A link to the book on Amazon is below.)
A tale of drama, with humour and a welcome lack of gloss.
There’s something that flies out from Esther Freud’s latest novel – an admiration for actors. And it’s bourn out by her ‘thanks’ note at the end – ‘If f I interviewed you, or cornered you at a party, or just watched you in admiration from the stalls, thank you . . . ‘ I like this; I admire actors too!
Freud’s isn’t an infatuation though, in this broad landscape, she presents them warts and all, with their petty meannesses, greater kindnesses, loyalties and subterfuges.
LUCKY BREAK takes a handful of a new cohort starting out at Drama School – Drama Arts. Scratch a bit of her fictional surface away and you could hazard a guess as to the school she might be speaking about. Some make it through the course (led by a self-centred, autocratic and really not very principled principal) some are required to leave. Some achieve early success, some have a hard grind, some go into other work. There’s a welcome lack of gloss in this engrossing tale; success brings great rewards (often at a price), failure can be life-changing.
We follow in the main, Nell’s story – dumpy, poor self-mage, she takes on board the messages of How to Act, How to Exist and to Be. She learns these as much for herself as for her chosen profession. Around her Freud builds a network of friends and other workers – the beautiful black woman, Charlie; handsome success, Dan; gay Pierre who doesn’t make it in acting.
Cleverly observed, these characters create a real world of emotional roller-coasters in which the knack is to keep your feet on the ground. And the icing? – Freud has a rich vein of humour in her work too . . . The build up to the Royal Premiere is hilarious.