Acting Up

Acting Up

by Melissa Nathan
From the bestselling author of The Learning Curve.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large ego must be in want of a woman to cut him down to size…

Sharp, witty Jasmin Field has her own column in a national magazine and has just landed the coveted role of Elizabeth Bennett in a one-off fundraising adaptation of


From the bestselling author of The Learning Curve.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large ego must be in want of a woman to cut him down to size…

Sharp, witty Jasmin Field has her own column in a national magazine and has just landed the coveted role of Elizabeth Bennett in a one-off fundraising adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Better yet, the play’s director, Hollywood heartthrob and Oscar-winner, Harry Noble, is every bit as obnoxious as she could have hoped. Which means a lot of material for her column. And a lot of fun in rehearsals.

And then disaster strikes. Jazz’s best friend abandons her for a man not worthy to buy her chocolate, her family starts to crumble before her eyes and her award-winning column hits the skids. Worse still, Harry Noble keeps staring at her.

As the lights dim, the audience hush, and Jazz awaits her cue, she realizes two very important things, one: she can’t remember her lines, and two: Harry Noble looks amazing in breeches…

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Jilly Cooper
Tremendous fun — an ingenious update on the greatest love story of all time.
Good Housekeeping
A witty spin on [Britain's] favorite novel...with a lovable contemporary heroine at its heart.

Product Details

Random House UK
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.85(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The tube train was stifling and packed. Jasmin Field-- Jazz to her friends -- couldn't read her book because someone's entire body was in her private space. Pinned to the door, she shut her eyes and imagined a cool breeze gently nudging a weeping willow as she swung lazily in her hammock. Somewhere 'in the distance a woodpigeon cooed and the smell of freshly cut grass wafted by. She smiled drowsily and hoped she wouldn't have to move a muscle ever again.

Then the man next to her farted and the moment was lost.

'It's Harry Noble!' shrieked someone suddenly and the squash eased as a mass of sticky bodies shot to where the words had come from. Jazz was grateful for the extra room. The train had been stuck in the station now for ten minutes -- some poor bastard had fainted in the front carriage apparently. Jazz was certainly no Harry Noble groupie, but she was grateful to him because now at least she could move her book up into the right position and start reading again.

Then, as one, the entire carriage moved to the widows. Not a word was spoken, of course -- this was the London Underground -- but a silent, almost mystic power of understanding bound everyone together. It's a common enough phenomenon when a mass of people all repress the same emotions -- in this case, exhaustion, resentment and fascination -- and it's one that happens every second of every day on the tube. But this time it was 'increased to the nth degree and you could almost hear it buzzing. Jazz looked up from her book and watched in wonder.

And then there he was.

Unbelievably, Harry Noble strode past them all, just a foot away, down West Hampstead Station'snow empty platform. It was like being in a film. No one made a sound, they all just stared at him as he walked, elegant and tall, his neck straight, his eyes fixed ahead, to the exit. He was beautiful. Jazz was sure his lips were moving, as if he were talking to himself. He could have been on a desert island he was so wholly unaware of his audience. So this was the real reason the doors were still shut, surmised jazz. No fainting passenger, just a famous one, who expected star treatment wherever he went. Suddenly, one young woman could hold back no longer -- even if she was on the London Underground. She didn't care, dammit. She banged on her bit of the window and screamed, 'HARRY!' in a voice fill of longing and heartache.

He didn't even turn his head. His eyes kept staring straight ahead, as if no one was there.

'HARRY!' came more voices, plaintive and hoarse.

Eventually, ever so slowly, he turned his majestic head and smiled a curt smile. And then everyone forgot their reserve. Now every carnage took its turn shouting, banging on windows and squealing as he passed them by. It was like a Mexican soundwave of passion and loss. It was quite moving, thought Jazz. And Harry Noble, of the illustrious Noble theatrical dynasty, heart-throb English actor who had gone to Hollywood and got an Oscar for his troubles, had the decency to look touched. He even winked at one girl who caught his dark, brooding eye.

And then he was gone.

There was silence for a moment and then, miracle of miracles, commuters actually started talking to each other.

'Oh my God, he's even more gorgeous in real life!'

'He winked at me! He winked at me!'

'I think I'm going to faint!'

'My daughter won't believe this!'

'He winked at me! Did you see him wink at me!'

Jazz marvelled that these people, who had unwittingly been kept in a stuffy, enclosed space for fifteen hellish minutes just so that one man could get out faster and easier than them, could make such fools of themselves. He's just a man, thought Jazz. A man who has to go to the toilet like them, who gets headaches, verrucas and wind.

Her smile widened as she wondered what these people would say if they knew she was actually about to meet the pompous twat. And with that thought, she returned to her book. Ten minutes later, the doors finally opened and the train haemorrhaged its dazed and sweaty passengers onto the platform.

Once out of the Underground, Jazz walked to the monstrous Gothic church at the end of a nearby road. She was meeting Mo, her flatmate, and Georgia, her elder sister, at the audition, and couldn't have moved fast in the hot, airless atmosphere engulfing north London if she'd wanted to. There was no sign of the famous Harry Noble. He must have been picked up by a limousine, she thought. Shame she hadn't been able to catch up with him -- she'd have cadged a lift.

Much more of a shame, though, was the fact that she wasn't in the least bit nervous about doing this stupid audition. It would have made excellent copy for her column: she always wrote well about suffering from nerves. But she just couldn't work up a sweat about performing in front of the great Harry Noble, the director of what was intended to be the celebrity fundraising theatrical experience of the millennium -- Pride and Prejudice, An Adaptation. She'd tried, but it was all too ridiculous. So there would be no self-deprecating humour about sweaty palms and a faltering voice. Damn. Not for the first time, Jazz cursed the fact that she could never write what wasn't true.

She was glad that she wasn't going to tomorrow's audition, which was for the steaming masses. Today's was for specially selected actors, writers and personalities as well as anyone lucky enough to be personally invited by one. As a journalist, Jazz fitted into the second category, and had...

Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field. Copyright � by Melissa Nathan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Melissa Nathan is the author of the bestsellers The Nanny, The Waitress and The Learning Curve. Sadly, she died in 2006, aged thirty-seven. A new literary award, The Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance was established in 2007 in her honour.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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