From the best-selling author of "Stater for Ten" comes a brand new comedy masterpiece. 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, on the other hand, it means a disastrous career playing passers-by and dead people. He's stuck ...Read MoreFrom the best-selling author of "Stater for Ten" comes a brand new comedy masterpiece. 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, on the other hand, it means a disastrous career playing passers-by and dead people. He'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 things get even more difficult when Stephen falls in love with Josh's clever, funny wife Nora. But might there yet be a way for Stephen to get his Big Break? "The Understudy" is a scintillating comedy of ambition, celebrity, jealousy, and love.Read Less
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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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