x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Lucky Break: The act of self-belief that fools no one else

A portly thespian's certainty that she's destined for greatness keeps the reader's sympathies until the inevitable end.

Lucky Break by Esther Freud (Bloomsbury)
Lucky Break by Esther Freud (Bloomsbury)

"No one knows that I've been chosen," Nell says to herself on her first day at Drama Arts. Yet the portly thespian feels certain there's been a mistake with the admissions and that someone's about to ask her to leave. Talented Dan and beautiful Charlie wade the fickle waters of acting school with Nell, until she is kicked out after completing three-quarters of the programme. Indeed, it's her ability to take one soul-destroying rejection after another - and still maintain a blind belief in her destiny as an actress - that engages one's sympathies in the end.

Post-Drama Arts, Charlie is the flavour of the month while Dan struggles to carve out a meaningful career and support a young family, not easy when an erectile dysfunction campaign pays more than Hamlet. The characters sway amusingly between self-centredness and self-deprecation, with an authenticity that makes it not surprising to learn the author trained as an actress. Lucky Break reminds you not to take anything for granted, and if playing a penguin for a bunch of schoolchildren is what it's going to take to get a foot in the door, you'd better do the best damn penguin you can.