The Understudy

  • by David Nicholls
  • Narrated by Tristan Layton
  • 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Thirty-two-year-old actor Stephen C. McQueen (no, not that Steve McQueen) is waiting for his big break. His only screen credits so far are playing dead bodies on cop and doctor shows. At the moment, he's paying the rent by understudying hot movie star Josh Harper, who's trying to gain dramatic credibility in a West End play. If only Josh would miss a performance, Stephen-with-a-P-H could prove his talent and redeem himself in the eyes of his disapproving ex-wife and their precocious seven-year-old daughter. Then Stephen stumbles on a secret that puts Josh in his debt. In exchange for Stephen's silence, Josh might let him go on stage. It's a sticky situation, made even stickier by Stephen's special friendship with Josh's wife. Stephen has his first real chance at success, but getting there will involve a certain amount of lying. He's about to discover how good an actor he really is.

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What the Critics Say



2005 Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award, Fiction
"The follow-up to Nicholls' hilarious debut novel, A Question of Attraction, is a smart, funny, big-hearted romantic comedy." (Booklist, starred review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An Actor's Nightmare

I don't know if you have to be an actor to enjoy "The Understudy" but I imagine it helps. I loved it. Although it drags a bit at times, when the characters get to the good stuff (i.e., their love for acting), I was in heaven!

Stephen C. McQueen (no, not THAT Steve McQueen!) is understudying the brash matinee heartthrob Josh Harper, a philandering actor with a long-suffering American wife (Nora) with whom Stephen begins to fall in love. How Stephen gets a crack at assuming the lead role as well as perhaps win the heart of the neglected wife is the stuff novels are made of, and in this case wonderful novels!

The narrator gives nuance to all the characters and adds immensely to the overall success of this delightful story of acting, love and how the two intersect. The author, David Nicholls, knows his stuff!
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- James Gordon

Fun story, uneven narration

The story was light and fun and the main character is very well drawn. The narration is excellent until the English reader attempts to do a female American accent. As an American female, I just wasn't buying it. Yet this narration actually won an award as an audio book, so some people obviously thought he did a good job.

But the story itself is fun and the male characters are truly believable as real people, which is pretty rare.
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- Lisa

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-22-2005
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books