'Oh Norman,' said the Queen, 'the prime minister doesn't seem to have read any Hardy. Perhaps you could find him one of our old paperbacks on his way out.' Had the dogs not taken exception to the strange van parked in the royal grounds, the Queen might never have learnt of the Westminster travelling library's weekly visits to the palace. But ...
'Oh Norman,' said the Queen, 'the prime minister doesn't seem to have read any Hardy. Perhaps you could find him one of our old paperbacks on his way out.' Had the dogs not taken exception to the strange van parked in the royal grounds, the Queen might never have learnt of the Westminster travelling library's weekly visits to the palace. But finding herself at its steps, she goes up to apologise for all the yapping and ends up taking out a novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett, last borrowed in 1989. Duff read though it proves to be, upbringing demands she finish it and, so as not to appear rude, she withdraws another. This second, more fortunate choice of book awakens in Her Majesty a passion for reading so great that her public duties begin to suffer. And so, as she devours work by everyone from Hardy to Brookner to Proust to Samuel Beckett, her equerries conspire to bring the Queen's literary odyssey to a close. Subversive and highly enjoyable, The Uncommon Reader offers the perfect argument for reading, written by one of its great champions, Alan Bennett.
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I ordered this book for an American friend who adores it, as I did. She read it in one sitting, and says that she will read it every year for the rest of her life. It is charming, delightful and the ending will knock your socks off. It is the best novella that I have ever read. Don' miss it.
Jan 5, 2012
As an expat Englishwoman, I was delighted to read this charming little novella. Long an admirer of Alan Bennett (best known in the U.S. for his play "The History Boys"), it was great to see that he hasn't lost his light touch or delicate sense of humour. I bought several copies and gave them to friends for Christmas. Reaction has been great!
Dec 16, 2010
"Uncommon Reader" is a gem!
Alan Bennet's "The Uncommon reader" deserves a place in the collection, no matter how modest, of everyone who owns more than one book. Beautifully and succinctly (but never tersely) written, it's an utterly charming and highly original story, with a real twist in its very last sentence. It proves that good writing did not die with the demise of Dickens.
It's a short book and so takes not a lot of time to read, but every second devoted to it is time well spent. It has humour, intrigue, machination aplenty. That the Queen of England is central to the story does most decidedly not limit its appeal only to Britons or royalists, nor does it add grist to the mill of the campaigners agitating for the abolition of the monarchy! And it's suitable for all ages, though there are (a very few - I can recall only one) instances of 'strong' language
This book is a MUST for anyone who appreciates a good story, crisply told.
Aug 6, 2009
This is a cute little book and not a big investment in time. It's about what happens when the Queen of England suddenly develops a voracious appetite for reading. It is not well received by her staff, who go out of their way to discourage it.
The book had alot of Britishisms, if that's a word, and dry humour, and her love of reading ended as quickly as it had begun, but did not leave her unchanged. She decides to turn to writing instead. I could relate to that , as I find I have a love for both reading and writing, for different reasons. I also think that avid readers make the best writers.
Jul 23, 2009
Mischievious and subversive
Like the description says, this quick read makes one chuckle and laugh at the quirky veracity of the characters and their actions.
One can, and does, read it in two sittings, if not less, and is overjoyed it is only partly true.
A wonderful tale of (mostly) likeable people.
Will Mr. Bennett be knighted for this effort?
One is not sure.
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