Franny Banks has given herself three years to try and make it as an actress in New York City. At the end of that three years, if she isn’t making steady work and a good income, she’ll move back home and get her teaching accreditation and follow in her father’s footsteps. She’s six months away from that deadline and although she’s a student with a prestigious acting teacher, she’s actually booked very little in the way of jobs – a couple of commercials. She makes ends meet by waitressing in a comedy club and even that only just covers her rent and bills in the Brooklyn brownstone she lives in with Jane, who wants to be a producer and Dan, who has dropped out of pre-med to try and be a script writer.
Franny dreams of doing serious, important theater work and she’s thrilled when she finally has an agency interested in representing her. But it’s just as hard going, even more so after that as she only seems to attract laundry detergent commercials or finds herself reading for parts that she knows are just so not right for her. Apart from that she’s dealing with the feelings she has for a charismatic, handsome actor from her class who is actually working in paid roles and trying to figure out just where she is going with this whole acting thing. There’s only so long she can keep trying to make it – she doesn’t want to be one of those people hanging onto the dream long past the use by date.
Someday, Someday, Maybe is probably going to attract a lot of attention because it’s by Lauren Graham, a very accomplished actress who has been in Broadway plays, starred in major TV shows such as Gilmore Girls and Parenthood and in movies such as Bad Santa. I was a huge fan of Gilmore Girls (still am actually, I’ve been known to watch the reruns on cable TV, especially the pre-Yale/Logan seasons which is where it all went south for me in an epic way) and I like Lauren Graham a lot. I requested this book from NetGalley purely because of that – she’s a name and I wanted to know what she could do in terms of a novel outlet. It probably isn’t helpful that I often read Franny in Lorelei Gilmore’s voice, or pictured her as Lorelei-ish a times but this is a funny, quirky novel and I can’t help but picture Lauren Graham, who is both of those things.
It is 1995 and Franny has just 6 months left to go on the deadline she gave herself to achieve her dream. As a character, she’s so easy to like – down to earth, funny and obviously talented but self-deprecating and perhaps not quite convinced of her strengths. She agonises over everything, be it reading for a laundry detergent commercial or whether or not anyone saw her fall over on stage. She also knows she’ll never be waif thin and this plays on her mind too – is it possible to only succeed in this business if you are a stick figure? She has a fresh, likable and she could easily be you – or someone you know.
The relationships in this book are very well drawn – I especially liked Franny’s relationship with her father which is mostly conducted by voice mail messages he leaves on her answering machine. He’s an English teacher who hasn’t exactly embraced the technology boom of the 1990s and his frustration at not being able to speak to an actual person comes through rather beautifully. Franny and her father are obviously very close and although she avoids ringing him sometimes, it’s not out of a desire not to speak to him. I get the feeling she’s more embarrassed about having so little to report to him in the way of work and the fact that she’s often struggling with money, having stopped taking regular money from him only recently. It seems a “thing” for parents to support their offspring who want to go to New York and be something (actor/writer/etc) – this has been reinforced most recently by the TV show Girls where the main character had been supported by her parents for two years post-college to try and be a writer and then they cut off the funding. This is a concept that is utterly foreign to me. I haven’t taken money from my parents since I was in high school and lived under their roof. Franny is finally almost independent now, having scored a waitressing job that does pay her rent (but doesn’t seem to give her much more than that). Apart from her relationship with her father, I also liked Franny’s friendships, particularly with her housemate Dan and also the way in which she interacted with people that intimidated her. Those interactions always had such an aura of authenticity to them, in all their cringing glory.
Whilst I did enjoy a lot about this novel, it wasn’t without some flaws for me. It wandered aimlessly in circles at times and felt a bit slow in the middle and like the story wasn’t going anywhere at all. It picks up towards the end, but I tend to like a lot more closure than this novel gives, personally. But it’s a promising debut in a unique and funny voice and I’d be happy to read another Lauren Graham book, should one be published.
Book #103 of 2013