Freud (Hideous Kinky) chronicles 14 years in the life of a group of young actors who meet at the world-renowned acting school, Drama Arts, in London. Nell is insecure, plain, and passive, allowing her beautiful friend Charlie to walk all over her. Dan and Jemma, both ambitious and passionate, fall quickly in love as schoolmates. But a lot can happen in a decade, especially to people in their tumultuous 20s; careers diverge, creating, in the case of Dan and Jemma, an insidious gulf in their marriage. Charlie, meanwhile, finds that maintaining her looks is not just difficult (and costly), but exacts a different kind of price.And while after years of obscure toil, an unlikely film role finally brings the spotlight upon Nell (she even shares the red carpet with Prince Charles and Camilla). These four hopefuls succeed, fail, rise, and fall, tumbling together in Freud's easygoing narrative. The fragile egos, intense competition, and uncaring industry have an impact on all involved, no matter what level of success they enjoy, but no one ever seems ready to abandon this world, even if it's abandoned them. Drawing inspiration from her early acting training, Freud finds joy and heartbreak in her winning ensemble. (Nov.)
“A superbly gifted writer… [Lucky Break is] breezily charming and typically shrewd, and comes with a new satirical edge… Freud creates relationships so fraught and delicate that at times the characters themselves can hardly bear to examine them… Freud explores them with a dazzling clarity that displays her true, writer's calling.” New York Times Book Review
“Lucky Break pierces the superficial surface of acting to reveal the enthralling, authentic drama at the heart of the business.” Newsweek Daily Beast
“Bubbly, buoyant… and just great fun… It's hard to picture a more pleasant diversion.” Boston Globe
“Each of [Freud’s] beautifully written books creates a fascinating special world, and this onean exegesis of her acting-school yearsis no exception.” Marie Claire
“Absorbing... [Freud] captures fleeting hopes, insecurities, and self-doubts... [and] brings a touch of irony to the red carpet.” Kirkus Reviews
“Freud chronicles 14 years in the life of a group of young actors... Drawing inspiration from her early acting training, Freud finds joy and heartbreak in her winning ensemble.” Publishers Weekly
“I started reading Lucky Break. I didn't move. I just read it. Finished in one sitting.” Antonia Fraser, author of Must You Go?
“I loved Lucky Break--being taken away and plunged into that vivid group of actors... Completely authentic and enthralling” Michael Holroyd, author of A Strange Eventful History
Anxious students Nell, Dan, Jemma, Pierre, and Charlie are some of the aspiring young actors who arrive at Drama Arts, the fictional drama school in Freud's (Hideous Kinky) seventh novel. Through the next 14 years, the would-be actors together endure classes, auditions, agents, screen tests, disappointments, and some successes. Freud again draws on her own experience—she attended drama school herself—and her believable characters are written with intelligence and compassion. The author's flair for authentic situations is evident, although at times she approaches cliché—a sleazy director attempts to seduce Nell in a casting-couch situation, and Patrick, the director of Drama Arts, could not be more self-important. While Freud is a talented writer known for her psychological insights, eccentric characters, and strange situations, her portrayal of the acting world at times seems a bit flat. Perhaps it is because the promise of triumph—the film or the Broadway play, that lucky break—is so rarely delivered. VERDICT Highly readable but not as satisfying as Freud's previous works.—Lisa Block, Emory Univ., Atlanta
Glimpsed in scenes spanning 14 years, a handful of aspiring actors suffer professional highs, lows, indignities and strokes of fortune in this absorbing, lightly comic novel by the noted British writer. Freud (Love Falls, 2007, etc.) seems keen to strip the mystique from theatrical life in her cautionary tale of Dan Linden, Nell Gilby, Charlie Adedayo-Martin and their friends, who meet at drama school in London in 1992. Nell, besotted with Dan but never involved with him, is ejected from the school after two years and struggles, without an agent, doing fill-in work, to get parts. Charlie, black and beautiful, has an easier entrée via a sexually explicit movie, and Dan, despite a growing family, enjoys the easiest trajectory of the three. But each must grapple with the difficulties inherent in the work to which they are addicted: competition, repetition, bad skin, embarrassing nudity, aging, brief but intense relationships, promiscuity and more. Freud, generally a shrewd observer, occasionally strays into caricature, notably in encounters with a predatory filmmaker and a superficial agent, but elsewhere she captures fleeting hopes, insecurities and self-doubts—is this, after all, a worthwhile way to earn a living? Sober but not profoundly soul-searching, this entertainingly readable antidote to E! News brings a touch of irony to the red carpet.
She's a superbly gifted writer, with a touch so light she's often undervalued. Freud's seventh novel, Lucky Break, which follows a group of actors for nearly 15 years…may not be her most ambitious, but it's her most breezily charming and typically shrewd, and comes with a new satirical edge.
The New York Times Book Review