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The Understudy
 
by
David Nicholls
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The Understudy

3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  4,060 ratings  ·  383 reviews
Wie man Filmstar wird? Über den kleinen Umweg des Ersatzschauspielers – so jedenfalls denkt sich das Stephen C. McQueen. Dem Schauspieler mit erstaunlichem Talent zum Pech – eine eben geschiedene Ehe, eine stagnierende, äußerst fragwürdige Karriere, keine Freunde, eine distanzierte Tochter, eine absolut verwahrloste Wohnung – begegnet auf eben diesem Umweg in Gestalt von J ...more
Published (first published January 28th 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Carrie Fletcher
'For Josh harper, being in show-business means money, fame, a beautiful wife, and a lead role on the London stage. For Stephen C. McQueen, it means a disastrous career playing passers-by and dead people. Stephen's stuck with an unfortunate name, a hopeless agent, a daughter he barely knows, and a job as understudy to Josh harper, the 12th Sexiest Man in the World. And when Stephen falls in love with Josh's clever, funny wife, Nora, things get even more difficult. but might there yet be a way fro ...more
Blandine
Sorry, Daily Mail, but The Understudy was not “laugh-out-loud.” Or at least, in my case it wasn’t. But I knew it wouldn’t be. Because Starter For Ten made me, quite literally, laugh out loud like a little mad woman,thus allowing me to believe that David Nicholls’s second book would be a minor disappointment for yours truly. And indeed…

The Understudy is Steve McQueen. Not the famous one, but a British lesser version of him. While Josh Harper, a handsome 29-year-old, has become a superstar adored
...more
Godzilla
My wife ordered this, as she enjoyed One Day and Starter for Ten, which I've read, and they were ok.

Perhaps I've got Nicholls fatigue, or it's a backlash to the mainly 4 and 5 stars I've been giving recently, but I found this a chore to read.

The characters are all unsympathetic and the story weak. It's easy to read but instantly forgettable.

The story seemed to run out of steam and even the humour began to pall way before the end of the book.

The ending was meant to be a tenterhook, but I found my
...more
David Rigano
It was enjoyable, but there were so many problems. What kept me going was the story (yes, I did want to find out what happened next) even though I couldn't find a character I really cared about.

I especially wondered how someone as apparently untalented as Stephen Q McQueen got to understudy a lead role on the West End. The portrayal of understudies in this book was really rather insulting. I've seen a number of understudies and I know some personally, and you have to be incredibly talented to un
...more
Annabel Grinbergs
So this book was a little holiday read that I took with high expectations as a friend said it was good...and it was on the whole!

I applause Nicholls for his writing ability. Despite not overly identifying with the lead character I felt nothing but 'get a grip, u sad sack!' i did think well everyone knows a Stephen, someone just trying to make it but being outshone by another...and hasn't everyone been there. If stephen was Ted from scrubs, Josh was definietly cast as Ashton Kutcher a lovable ro
...more
esterb
Although Stephen is older than Brian, the main character in Nicholls’ previous book Starter for ten, the theme is the same: not really knowing yourself and what you want out of life, then going through a rough and deciding time and coming out a better person.
And that is precisely what I didn’t like about the book: a typical coming of age novel shouldn’t be about a man in his thirties. You know how it is — the intoxicating aphrodisiac that is failure.’ ‘It’s not failure. It’s postponed success. W
...more
Doreen
Good solid story-telling. Problem was, I had a hard time feeling sympathy for the narrator, who has a habit of lying whenever he thinks the truth will put him in an unflattering light. Worse, he blames "bad luck" for why he's such a sad sack, and has few redeeming characteristics otherwise. Some of the jokes and set-pieces were entirely too commonplace to be truly funny, and I thought it awfully convenient that he should walk into Number Twelve's dressing room that one scene, thereby finding a r ...more
Sarah
This was realistic and well-written, but I found it rather grim and depressing. Stephen was so hopeless that I found him hard to like or relate to, and Nora was fairly unpleasant also. I like my main characters to have a few redeeming features as well as a few realistic faults and foibles.

Stephen was repeatedly described as ‘unlucky’, but I can’t get on board with that concept. I think we make our own luck in life. It’s true that some people are born with natural advantages, like talent or good
...more
Melanie
For Josh Harper, being an actor means fame and fortune. Not so much for the quite unfortunately named Stephen C. McQueen. He's ready and waiting to jump on his 'Big Break', but the opportunity just never seems to come around.

This book was incredibly easy to read, and I really enjoyed it. I'd tell myself I'd only read a couple chapters before going and doing x, but find myself still there half an hour later. The characters are funny and I particularly like Steve's sense of humour. He, like so man
...more
Abigail Hillinger
Maybe it's the books I've been choosing lately, but I'm noticing a common thread between them all: inconsistently weak main characters.

This is my second David Nicholls' book. And with both of his stories, the main character (male) does shady things that end up sorely hurting him in the end...shady things that are transpired, it seems, by their insecurities.

It's kind of hard to read a book where you don't much like the protagonist...unless you're Tom Perrotta, because there's rarely a character y
...more
Jennifer

After devouring David Nicholl's latest hit, One Day, I decided to risk backtracking through his catalog and being too familiar with his debut "Starter for Ten" (a great movie if anyone is looking for a hidden gem on Netflix) I went for his sophomore effort, The Understudy.

While the Understudy has its charms I see it as the book Nicholl's needed to write to hone his skills, sharpen his wit and play with various levels of character depth and likability. The lead is a struggling actor who, on the
...more
Anne-Marie
"For Stephen, London was less a city that never slept, more a city that got a good nine hours."

I was a little worried about reading another David Nicholls so soon because One Day and A Question of Attraction were a tad bit similar.

The Understudy turned out to be different enough from the other two so as not to be repetitive but I didn't think that it had nearly the amount of hilarious sarcasm

The story was solid though.

His novels are so freakin' British I always find myself reading in an accent
...more
Nicole
I won this book from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway page. I never win anything, so I was so excited! But, unfortunately, the book just wasn't that good. I didn't feel anything for any of the characters. I wasn't hoping that the romantic aspect would pull through. I really didn't care if the main character succeeded or not. The book jacket says "laugh out loud funny"... uh, not so much. Maybe it's me, but I don't find constant failure to be funny. I don't find drunken and drug binges to be fu ...more
Reetta Saine
Kaksi tähteä hyvälle sarkasmille, joka nauratti ääneen. Nolla muulle kirjalle, joka lähti ei mistään ja päättyi ei mihinkään (kiitos, Neumann!). Tämä elämänvaihe on selvästi ohi ja itsesääliset keski-ikäiset wanna-beet ei jaksa kiinnostaa. Erotkaa ja rakastukaa ja töppäilkää ja miettikää uraanne ja elämäänne epäonnistumisten sarjana, mutta minun ei tarvitse enää lukea niistä :p.
Liz Cohen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rosa
I'm surprised to find myself giving up on this, since I'm almost 200 pages in & since I absolutely adored One Day & highly enjoyed most of Starter for Ten. But no matter how much further I get into this story, the characters don't become more than caricatures, the plot doesn't get less predictable, nothing gets more interesting... I found myself dragging my feet to get back to it & watching trashy tv when I could have been reading, all signs that I need to switch books. I'm hoping si ...more
Jessica
not as funny as the book cover reviewers made it seem
Philip
Since reading One Day I have been singing David Nicholls’s praises to anyone who will listen. Originally I thought he had only written two books; One Day and Starter For Ten, so it was a nice surprise when I went onto his website and found he had a third (and now a fourth!).

Though all these books are basically relationship comedies, Nicholls sets them in a world so real and rich with authentic detail that I can’t help feeling he is writing these books just for me! A good portion of One Day was s
...more
Jenine Davey
In choosing this book, I knew I was choosing the work of an author beloved by film directors - I watched the movie version of Starter for Ten while I was at university, and One Day was just being advertised as in cinemas when I stumbled upon The Understudy in paperback format. For that reason, I approached this as more of a light read; something that you could happily read on a short train journey and then pick up again two days later without forgetting what was going on.

To Nicholls’ credit, tha
...more
Teryl
Stephen was just irritating through the middle of the book. I am sure there are people who are so out of control of their own lives that they allow others to drive them into making endless errors of judgement, but I am not so sure I want to read a whole book about them. And yet, I did!

I liked the concept of the book, and the plot was interesting, but it just didn't take off for me. I was relieved to finish it, whereas One Day could have gone on for longer.
Tim Wu
In terms of cruel painful humor at the expense of a hapless protanganist, this is a masterpiece that made me laugh uncontrollably.

I know others prefer his other books, and at some level the others may be better executed, but perhaps this one was more true to the form for me.

Starter for 10 was so painful I had trouble reading it at times, though I admit I enjoyed it to.
Anouska
Jul 18, 2010 Anouska rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Holiday read
It took me a while to get into this. David Nicholls creates amusing situations, but I found the characters in this unconvincing. Nora was particularly shadowy, I felt, and even by the end, I still did not have a sense of her. However, Nicholl's prose carries you along effortlessly, which just about saved it for me. Not a patch on his hugely engaging One Day.
Lucy
Does Nicholls struggle with endings? One Day's ending annoyed me, and this, an inferiour book by some way, had a total damp squib of an ending. Spoilers alert!!! The main character goes off with Nora to Paris and I have no idea why she would do that. I mean, they clearly won't make a relationship work. Overall, the book was funny, but pretty forgettable plotwise.
Rachel
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about Stephen McQueen (no relation to the famous Steve McQueen) as he works as an understudy to Josh Harper, the 12th sexiest man in the world, for the performance of Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know, the tale of Lord Byron. Stephen meets Josh's wife Nora and almost instantly falls in love with her, and becomes her friend, whilst also visiting his ex-wife and her new (much more successful) husband, and taking his daughter for days out. Stephen isn't a particularly l ...more
Greg Stragnell
Another "light" and easy read from David Nicholls; the colleague who lent me "Starter for Ten" lent me this one as well. It has its moments - modest chuckles this time rather than milk-through-the-nose hilarity. If you fancy something not at all taxing, fair enough; otherwise, give it a miss.
Tommylord
il vero problema del libro è che all'inizio ma lentino e che tranne due battute non fa per niente ridere. Poi la storia per l'amor di dio è carina, ma scontata e con il solito mezzo lieto fine.
Appena sufficiente caro Nicholls. Le domande di Brian ti era venuto decisamente meglio.
Trish
Such lovely prose, such neat descriptions of a scene the writer obviously knows well, such depressingly forgettable and fairly dislikeable characters. I admire the attempt to write something that's definitely, absolutely, NOT a romantic comedy (except it is, obviously). I admire the fact that instead of sweeping the object of his affection off her feet, the protagonist lies to her, hides information from her, and then struggles to help her pull up her tights in the frightening red bathroom of hi ...more
Carlotta Borasio
Nicholls è veramente spietato con i suoi personaggi, non risparmia 'i buoni' dal mostrarli nel pieno delle loro debolezze e forse è ancora più spietato con 'i cattivi' mostrandoli terribilmente umani. Questo fa sì che i personaggi possano apparentemente sembrare degli stereotipi, ma di fatto sono personaggi che ti rimangono davvero impressi nella loro spietata ironia. Secondo me con questo libro non si ride di gusto, si ghigna di cattiveria. Devo dire che dal finale mi aspettavo un po' di più. Q ...more
Charlotte Harris
I was very excited to read another book by Nicholls after One Day. This book was very enjoyable, and filled with the realism that made me love One Day in the first place. However, it was a bit more gritty than One Day, and was not as enchanting. But, I suppose, if you want a realistic story, that is what you are going to get. I found myself constantly changing my mind about the main character, something that rarely happens. Overall, it is a good read, but fails to capture me the way that One Day ...more
Samantha
I loved One Day so much, this could never live up to that, and I'm afraid it didn't. Mostly due to the character of Stephen, who I found difficult to empathise with. Fragile Nora was easier to like, and of course Josh is suitably odious, but Stephen is the protagonist, and his increasing disappointment in himself got a bit wearing. I certainly didn't find it "laugh out loud" as the cover quote states. In fact I found it quite bleak at times. The story itself does get across the message about bei ...more
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David Nicholls is a British author, screenwriter, and actor. A student of Toynbee Comprehensive school and Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, he Graduated from the University of Bristol having studied English Literature and Drama.

After graduation, he won a scholarship to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, before returning to London in 1991 and finally earning an Equity
...more
More about David Nicholls...
One Day Us Starter for Ten David Nicholls Collection (One Day, The Understudy, Starter For Ten) Too Much Too Young

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“Find the thing you love, and do it with all your heart, to the absolute best of your ability, no matter what people say.” 9 likes
“Josh likes to say he put the funk in 'functional'. Personally I think he just put the ass in 'embarrassing', but, hey, what do I know?” 8 likes
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