Book Review: Lucky Break

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The life of an actor remains endlessly fascinating, even as their minor crises of conscience and career seem more and more rote to the general public. For some reason, Esther Freud has been seduced by the glitz and glamour, and the result is her mildly diverting but ultimately disappointing Lucky Break.

Following three classmates at a prestigious London drama school-the kind of place that weeds out the weak via psychological torment and hardened hearts-Freud traces the disappointments and triumphs as down-to-earth Nell, dashing Daniel and beautiful Charlie navigate the rocky road of agents, TV series, pilot season in L.A. and endlessly terrifying auditions. But Freud offers up nothing new amidst the broken hearts, shaking hands and triumphant opening nights. Actors struggle to balance family with work; being beautiful helps in one's career but maintaining that beauty is treacherous work. And somehow, somewhat unbelievably, being a good-hearted person can lead to success.

Freud's trio of characters are smartly written and finely drawn, and she mostly avoids falling into clichéd pitfalls with them. Nell, Charlie and Daniel are just off enough to remain interesting, even as the situations they find themselves in feel faded. A splashy initial success leads nowhere; high-profile agents are of no help. These are practically Joey plotlines from Friends, presented here with just enough freshness to keep one reading. But when it comes to insights into why men and women throw themselves into a career comprised mostly of rejection and heartache, Freud keeps the curtain drawn tight.

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