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The Understudy
David Nicholls
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The Understudy

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  6,311 Ratings  ·  518 Reviews
From the bestselling author of STARTER FOR TEN, ONE DAY and US, THE UNDERSTUDY is a scintillating comedy of ambition, celebrity, jealousy and love.

For Josh Harper, being in show-business means everything he ever wanted - 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 peopl
Published (first published 2005)
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Eddie Owens
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“In all the most intense and intimate experiences of his life, he couldn’t help comparing them with how actors had simulated similar moments: his ecstasy at the birth of his daughter, say, or his grief at the news of the premature death of a schoolfriend, yelping for joy when Alison agreed to marry him, or the smile he’d worn on his wedding day. That’s not to say any of his responses were any less sincere. It was just that, consciously or otherwise, he was always comparing his behaviour with how ...more
Carrie Hope 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
James Hartley
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good, quick, funny, fun read - especially if youve ever struggled to make it as an actor, writer, artist or similiar. Although the story often has to give way to the jokes, the jokes are funny, which saves the day. ...more
Feb 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
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
May 11, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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

Light entertainment with some laugh out loud moments. You’re promised a good time with this book – and you’ll get a very untraditional ending.

Stephen has a dream. Since he was a little boy, his biggest wish and ambition for life has been to become a succesful actor. Instead, he plays the parts of 'dead guy #4', a squirrel in a kids' show, and the understudy for a superstar. On top of that, he's divorced from the woman he loves, he cannot connect with his daughter, and lives in a crappy apartmen
not as funny as the book cover reviewers made it seem
Linda Vismane
"It's important to have ambitions. To find the thing you love doing, and do it to the best of your abilities."
So I started reading this book with basically no expectations at all and I'm glad I did so.
The book didn't disappoint me, however it had some flaws.
Firstly - why do people always think that they can get away with lying? Stupid, stupid, stupid. I think that's the reason why I couldn't identify with the main character, Stephen. He lied so many unnecessary times that by the end I just wan
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
Aug 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
''Sevdiğin şeyi bul ve onu tüm kalbinle, elinden geldiği kadar iyi yap; kim ne derse desin.''


Stephen, oyunculuk eğitimini bitirdikten sonra işlerin kendisi için daha kolay olacağını düşünmüş, bulunmak istediği yere bir adım daha yaklaştığı gibi aldatıcı bir hissin peşine takılmıştır. Her zaman hayalini kurduğu parlak ve son model arabalar, eşi ve kızının lüks içinde yaşayabileceği ve her şeyiyle huzur kokan bir yuva, doruk noktasında kurulu bir kariyerin sahibi olacağına da inanc
Charlie Hay
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a romantic comedy in book form. A very British romantic comedy which is more awkwardness than romance. It’s a good… 80/20 split in favour of awkwardness. This book can only be compared to the awkward lovechild of Michael Cera and Hugh Grant if they were ever able to take each other’s clothes off which bumbling for 51 straight hours. Stephen C. McQueen is an actor. Better known for playing corpses, Stephen has landed a real theatre job as the understudy of Hollywood heartthrob Josh Harper ...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
Nov 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
Ilze Folkmane
David Nicholls has taken an interesting, universally recognisable concept – the feeling of inferiority while pursuing one’s dreams, but in The Understudy it just falls flat, and I blame the characters. I made zero connection with all of them, so any development the characters might have gone through or any epiphany that might have enlightened by the end of the story them just flew right by me.
Very easy read and decent plot too
Katie Brock
This book was not what I expected. I expected it to much more about acting than it was. Instead we just get the sad life of Steve McQueen (no not that one) and the story that he never gets his big break.

Then it comes and he gives it all up!?

Even the romance area was all muddled.

That being said, I do like David Nicholls writing style so found the story easy to read. I sped through it and I'll probably read more by him but this one was good. I enjoyed it but I felt there could be more to it.
Sep 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010

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
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Juliana Graham
The Understudy is David Nicholls' second novel, following Starter for Ten but preceding One Day. This surprised me as I didn't enjoy this book as much as the other two - somehow it felt less polished and complete than the others and as such I was expecting it to be his debut novel.

The main character is Stephen C. McQueen, a struggling actor who is the understudy for a much bigger star. Stephen is not particularly likeable or dislikeable - he's just a bit dull. As such, it's hard to care hugely w
Jan 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
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
Clara Collins
I liked this book, however I did not love it, and it isn't a book that I would pick up to read again.
It has taken me nearly two months to read this book! I would not say that I'm a quick reader but if I like a book then I can generally get it finished within a week... so it shows how much this book interested me :/. The problem I found was that I could not connect with the main character of the book, and I was not intrigued to know what happened next, which probably explains why it took me so lo
Liz Cohen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Debbie Cordes
I chose to read this book because I absolutely loved 'One Day' but this book didn't capture me like 'One Day' did. The story line was weak, I couldn't relate to the characters and it wasn't very realistic. I didn't enjoy the story line but it was easy to read. The reason I kept reading is because I did want to find out what happens at the end. Overall it's was an okay book that I wouldn't read again.
Aug 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
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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 about David Nicholls...
“Find the thing you love, and do it with all your heart, to the absolute best of your ability, no matter what people say.” 8 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
More quotes…