Judy Nunn’s latest bestselling novel will take you from the cotton mills of England to the magnificent theatres of Melbourne, on a scintillating journey through the golden age of Australian showbusiness.
In the second half of the 19th century, Melbourne is a veritable boomtown, as hopefuls from every corner of the globe flock to the goldfields of Victoria. And where people crave gold, they also crave entertainment.
Enter stage right: brothers Will and Max Worthing and their wives Mabel and Gertie. The family arrives from England in the 1880s with little else but the masterful talents that will see them rise from simple travelling performers to sophisticated entrepreneurs.
Enter stage left: their rivals, Carlo and Rube. Childhood friends since meeting in a London orphanage, the two men have literally fought their way to the top and are now producers of the bawdy but hugely popular ‘Big Show Bonanza’. The fight for supremacy begins.
With Showtime!, Judy Nunn is returning to her roots, in more ways than one. Her first three novels, The Glitter Game, Centre Stage and Araluen, were set respectively in the worlds of television, theatre, and film. There she began a career as a bestselling author, selling over a million books in Australia alone. But long before Nunn put pen to paper, she trod the boards. Her first professional theatre job was at age twelve, at The Playhouse Theatre in Perth. It was the start of a long, successful theatre career, both here and overseas. In the opening pages of Showtime!, Nunn says that theatre was always, and still is, her first love as a performer. It is this love, this passion, and certainly her decades of real-life experience that shine on every single page of this novel. It’s a showstopper!
Showtime! has all the hallmark qualities Nunn’s readers love: polished writing, a cast of fascinating characters, and great storytelling. Once again, she merges fiction with fact, making her one of our foremost historical novelists. Waiting in the wings of Showtime! are comedy, tragedy, passion, and betrayal; economic depression, the Black Death, and the horrors of WWI. It is unputdownable – her best novel yet – and I tore through all 500-plus pages.
Judy Nunn is one of Australia’s great entertainers, on screen, on stage, and on the page. Showtime! deserves a standing ovation. Encore, please!