Today’s book review, of a comedy novella, is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Synopsis: The Uncommon Reader is none other than HM the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely (JR Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people like the oleaginous prime minister and his repellent advisers. She comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with much that she has to do. In short, her reading is subversive. The consequence is, of course, surprising, mildly shocking and very funny.
This novella is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Uncommon-Reader-Alan-Bennett/dp/1846681332 and http://www.amazon.com/The-Uncommon-Reader-Alan-Bennett/dp/1846681332.
Review (of the audiobook)
The story starts with Queen Elizabeth II – thanks to one of her noisy corgi dogs barking in the grounds of Buckingham Palace – discovering the local council’s travelling library. She borrows a book, with help from one of her kitchen-hands, Norman Seakins, and her love affair with books starts. This sees Norman promoted then – without the queen’s knowledge – ‘demoted’ (to become a creative writing student at the University of East Anglia) although their paths cross again later.
During the journey of the book (and a few journeys of her own), the Queen takes every opportunity she can to read even while waving from her carriage. Resentment builds from her staff, and less-than-understanding family – on one occasion one of the books, she’s told, was taken for a suspect package and blown up. As we are lead to believe is true in real life, the Queen is very savvy and while no one knows whether she’s read this book, it’s an homage to her, her being beautifully portrayed throughout.