Lucky Break, by Esther Freud, Bloomsbury, RRP£7.99, 320 pages
Esther Freud’s latest novel is set in a small drama school, perhaps not unlike the one she herself attended. Here, four budding young acting students strive for fame.
Mousy, unprepossessing Nell graduates from bit parts to landing a life-changing film role. By contrast, Charlie’s glamour snags her plenty of TV work until a skin complaint blemishes her seductive confidence. Jemma, declared a failure by her tutors, is ousted from the school early. She goes on to marry Dan, whose ambitious vanity is fuelled by film and stage success.
Freud has plenty of fun with thespian flourishes (which would be a gift for TV adaptation) but there’s an episodic approach to these four lives, reported in epochs from 1992-2006, that never quite gels, despite Freud’s highly readable and engaging style. The novel has plenty of intrigue and cameo characters with tantalisingly brief roles but, ultimately, there’s a lack of gravity to the principal actors, whose personas feel typecast.