Becoming Nancy by Terry Ronald

This is a coming of age novel set in the 1970s about a teenage boy who is given the role of Nancy in the school production of Oliver! and falls in love with his opposite number, Bill Sykes. It covers a range of issues in the UK during that time period, from homophobia, to racism, to conservative christian attitudes and mental illness.


I quite enjoyed this book, indeed I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Initially when I looked at the front cover, an the quotations from Kylie Minogue I had the impression that this was just a book published by someone with connections. However, it is well-written and provides some interesting insights into the gay male experience during the seventies. I particularly liked the range of characters, and the different storyline twists as the novel progressed.

I think the novel would work well as a British independent film. It has a kind of light-heartedness and humour that works well, but also with the more serious undertones. It reminded me a bit of Pride, the film which was released a few years ago. They both have the same British humour, but also grapple with some serious issues. I can’t reveal more without divulging spoilers, but I do recommend giving it a read. It’s not too long, and quite accessible.


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