"One had always read. Only these days one is reading more."
Apr 25, 2009
It's good to be Queen, but it does have its drawbacks -- long periods of tedium in slow-moving vehicles, a relentless round of ceremonial duties, and a bird's eye view of everyday life. What better solution to these drawbacks than the pages of a good book?
The Uncommon Reader: A Novella is a quirky little book about Queen Elizabeth II and her discovery of the joys of reading. Pursuing her yapping corgis through the grounds of Windsor Castle, she ends up in the library bookmobile and checks out a book to be polite. From this beginning, guided by kitchen hand-turned-equerry Norman Seakins, she is soon deep in the world of books.
This new habit of hers is unpopular with the people around her. She's becoming too "remote," they say; Alzheimer's is suggested. Her punctuality and attention to formal routine are slipping. Norman is spirited away from her staff but she keeps reading.
Author Alan Bennett packs a lot into this compact book. Through all the palace intrigue, Mad Hatter's tea parties, and hilarious references to writers old and new, the queen keeps reading. Her point of view widens exponentially and she begins making notes -- and then writing more seriously.
There's a little treasure around every corner in this wry book. The final scene is pure theater of the absurd, and the final paragraph will probably make you laugh out loud. Highly recommended.
It's good to be Queen, but it does have its drawbacks -- long periods of tedium in slow-moving vehicles, a relentless round of ceremonial duties, and a bird's eye view of everyday life. What better solution to these drawbacks than the pages of a good book? The Uncommon Reader: A Novella is a quirky little book about Queen Elizabeth II and her discovery of the joys of reading. Pursuing her yapping corgis through the grounds of Windsor Castle, she ends up in the library bookmobile … more
This short and sweet novella is many things: humorous, witty, insightful, linguistic, intelligent, and even mysterious. We follow Queen Elizabeth II of England as she discovers a love for reading late in life; her thirst for books is one many a bibliophile can relate to. Those of us who have friends and relatives who occasionally insist that we need to set aside books to "interact" or "try something else" will recognize a kindred spirit in Her Majesty as the queen hides books nearby in order to … more
For such a slim novella, "The Uncommon Reader" operates on many levels. Most obviously, it is a charming, comedic story. But it's also a meditation on the merits ... and the limits ... of books and reading as a means of opening one's eyes (as the book's subject might say) and softening one's sensibilities. It's about what an awakening familiarity with literature can do to a person, and also the havoc it can create for people who expect life to be led in certain familiar pattern. That's a lot to … more
Once upon a time the Queen of England was walking her dogs in the Buckingham Palace gardens when they took an interest in the bookmobile parked behind the palace kitchens. When the dogs refused to come back to her, Queen Elizabeth went to retrieve them and decided to borrow a book from the mobile library just to be polite. Before she knew it, one book led to another, and the good Queen became an avid reader and lived happily ever after. Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader is … more
From the author of The History Boys and The Clothes They Stood Up In A deliciously funny novella that celebrates the pleasure of reading. When the Queen in pursuit of her wandering corgis stumbles upon a mobile library she feels duty bound to borrow a book. Aided by Norman, a young man from the palace kitchen who frequents the library, Bennett describes the Queen's transformation as she discovers the liberating pleasures of the written word. With the poignant and mischievous wit of The History Boys, England's best loved author revels in the power of literature to change even the most uncommon reader's life.