Paul's Reviews > The Understudy

The Understudy by David Nicholls
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's review
Dec 11, 2011

liked it
Read in December, 2011

Right now I'm into believable stories, which includes characters, plots, events and outcomes.

The first 90% of The Understudy met these criteria. I couldn't put it down. I was fully engaged as the characters and events unfolded and I was continually telling myself "just one more page". Many of the scenes are exceptionally well written, humorous and cringe-worthy (where called for).

The last fifteen or so pages ("or so" meaning I was using an e-reader and am estimating the number of paper pages) were not in keeping with the remainder of the story and that's why I only gave it three starss.

*** WARNING - SPOILER ALERT FOLLOWS ***

Josh was your typical A-list actor, self-absorbed - never met a mirror he didn't like, and not the sharpest tool in the intellectual shed.

Stephen started as a bit of a pitiable character, then became likeable, and as I learned more about him, I felt he was a looser not because life had dealt him a bad hand, but character- and personality-wise he deserved it. Ratting Josh out was the end of it for me.

I couldn't figure Nora out - your basic Barbie doll hanger-on or an average person with bad judgement?

I thought that Stephen and Nora getting together at the end was, of all the potential outcomes, the silliest of all. For Nora to go along with it, she would have to be wilfully blind to Stephen's bad character, or just pain vapid. As for Stephen, he would have redeemed himself had he made a clean break of it, but an hour after his life-altering epiphany he was right back at it.

I found the ending out of keeping with the remainder of the story and I felt that someone else besides the author wrote it.
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