Recently divorced actor Stephen C. McQueen (no relation, unfortunately) seems to have a knack for bad luck. But a failed marriage, a stalled career, a judgmental ex-wife, a distant daughter, a horrid little studio apartment in the far reaches of the London suburbs-all these pathetic elements seem to pale in the chiseled face of his newest ...
Recently divorced actor Stephen C. McQueen (no relation, unfortunately) seems to have a knack for bad luck. But a failed marriage, a stalled career, a judgmental ex-wife, a distant daughter, a horrid little studio apartment in the far reaches of the London suburbs-all these pathetic elements seem to pale in the chiseled face of his newest tormentor: the Twelfth Sexiest Man in the World, Josh Harper. Josh is the star of Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know, a biographical play about Lord Byron-and Stephen is his understudy. Not only is Josh fantastically, infuriatingly good-looking, internationally renowned, and remarkably talented, he's also frustratingly healthy. No matter how many all-night booze-and-coke benders Josh goes on, he always shows up at the stage door for his call like clockwork. Stephen doubts he'll ever get his chance to slip on the puffy shirt and tight breeches of Byron and tread the boards in the role that would certainly be the break he's always waited for. And just when Stephen's sure he couldn't resent Josh more, he meets Josh's witty, restless American wife, Nora . . . and discovers he likes her a little too much. Another man might curse his luck at finding that his potential dream woman is a rival's wife, but at this point, Stephen would expect nothing else. Caught between his stirring feelings for Nora, the demands of an insistent and secretive Josh, and his lifelong desire for a real career in show business, Stephen must make a terrible decision: Will it be the girl or the fame? A hapless, bumbling bloke in love, an arrogant megastar with a potpourri of addictions, a sexy married woman out of her element in the fast lane-David Nicholls brings them all together in this knockout romantic comedy. "From the Hardcover edition."
Publishers Weekly, 2005-12-05 Nicholls's wry romantic comedy about down-on-his-luck actor Stephen McQueen receives a royal audio treatment, complete with mood-setting music and Layton's seamless narration. With chameleon-like grace, Layton slips easily among the characters, from Stephen's genial, unremarkable British accent to the slippery suave tones of Josh Harper, whom Stephen understudies, and the flat American accent of Josh's smart, self-deprecating wife, Nora. Both narrator and music succeed in conveying Stephen's desperation at being 32, with a small number of bit parts to his credit and only one broken leg away from stepping into Josh's shoes as leading man. Convinced that all he needs is that single opportunity to turn his fortune around, Stephen makes a pact with Josh to help him deceive his wife about his extramarital liaisons, an agreement that slowly dissolves under the weight of Stephen's growing affection for Nora. An understated success, this audiobook is full of quiet but powerful realizations about life, love and the stark difference between reality and movie reality. There are moments where listeners will recognize the genius of this audio's orchestration, such as when Nicholls describes the enthusiasm of Stephen's daughter ebbing away like a wind-up toy running out of steam, and strains of a wind-up music box can be heard in the background. Simultaneous release with the Villard hardcover (Reviews, July 25). (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-07-25 Nicholls's second novel (after A Question of Attraction) focuses on Stephen C. McQueen, a 32-year-old actor forlornly hoping for his big break. With an 11-year career whose sole highlight has been playing a corpse, Stephen's latest gig, understudying Josh Harper (one of London's hottest stars) in a West End play, actually has promise. If only Josh would miss a performance (say, break a leg, literally), Stephen would secure the lead, and in turn, the approval of his critical ex-wife, Alison, and his precocious seven-year-old daughter, Sophie. But while Josh is many things (self-absorbed, cruel), he's never sick, and just as Stephen's abhorrence for the haughty superstar reaches its crescendo (he's asked to waiter at Josh's birthday bash) Stephen meets Nora, Josh's acerbic and neglected bride, and later stumbles upon Josh mid-tryst with a costar. Suddenly Stephen's able to make a dealAhis silence in exchange for the starring role. Of course, the rules of light romantic comedy prevail: Stephen falls in love with Nora and realizes that he can't lie to make his own career. Nicholls's background as a screenwriter is evident, and while clever, his latest novel is still saccharinely predictable, best paired with sand and surf. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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