The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett


I started this book this afternoon, and finished it this evening. This is the first Alan Bennett book I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is the Amazon synopsis for The Uncommon Reader:

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 (J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett, and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people such as 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.

I really enjoyed this book. I think Bennett looks at the Queen from a different point of view, like an ordinary person with a great passion, reading. He takes the time to assess how this would change her attitude and her priorities. I found myself relating to her (the Queen, I know!) as she faced people who don’t like reading and understanding how she felt when she believed jobs boring in comparison to reading.

I like how Bennett portrayed all the characters, to the common kitchen boy to the pompous prime minister and I just loved the way he assesses books and what they mean to us e.g. how they can be an extension of ourselves.

As an avid reader I found myself getting cross with people who found the books a problem, and I liked that. I enjoy a book where I get emotionally involved, and this is a book where that happened.

There were times when what I read was a tad boring, but that may be the fault of my ignorance in terms of certain books he mentioned.

A good book and a quick, enjoyable read.


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