The Uncommon Reader

Review The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

A Novella

After reading a few delightful posts recommending this and seeing it on the list as a possibility for the Novella Challenge, I ordered this from the library.

At only 120 pages, and with above average size font, I was easily able to devour this in a few hours.

The story is how the Queen of England accidently discovers a traveling library van on the grounds of the palace and so she decides on a whim to check out a book.   This activity, her new hobby, snowballs and takes over her life as anyone who loves to read can appreciate.   Once engrossed in a book, she finds every interruption, every duty,  any time not spent reading to be quite annoying!

Her staff becomes concerned and attempts to thwart her new ‘preoccupation.’  Her family is actually glad because they find she no longer pays much nitpicky attention to them.   And eventually, alas, she realizes that she is a ‘doer’ and reading is not doing.    I won’t spoil the ending…

I enjoyed the premise, the lightness, the absurdity.     I chuckled frequently and sympathised (sympathy may not be the right word…   anyone?, anyone?)  with the position of the Queen and how she is supposed to act.

However, I am not familiar  enough of some things the author referred to, I don’t have any understanding of French words (my biggest issue with ‘heavy’ literature), and I don’t get many terms I assume are everyday stuff of British culture.   So, I stumbled a lot and often skipped over these or became disillusioned with my own world knowledge.

Otherwise, despite or because of my lowbrow and American perspective, it was a cute story.

THREE STARS.

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8 thoughts on “The Uncommon Reader

  1. That sounds very interesting. The premise is unusual. Maybe the word you are looking for is “empathize.”

    Thank you! So, off I ran to search the difference and it’s very confusing! I am getting conflicting definitions. I’m going to stay with sympathize only because empathy seems to require some shared experience and I don’t think I will ever be able to say I have been in the Queen’s shoes to know how she feels.

  2. Thanks for the review! I’m still waiting for this one from the library, and your review has made me more curious than ever.

    Hi Nonanon! Knowing you appreciate the British authors, I think you will enjoy this very much!

  3. That sounds entertaining. Actually, I was chuckling while reading your review because sometimes I feel bothered and annoyed when everyday duties interfere with my reading. I’ve been know to tell my kids to watch TV so mommy can read. While you may not be a queen, maybe you can “identify” with her love of reading???

    Thanks, Nicole. Oh yes, I can identify with the interruptions to reading! I guess, I was trying to say that my duties no way compare to the QUEEN’s duties, but then again: What I do IS important, too! Thank God, I’m not on display like she is…

  4. Pingback: Holiday reading « The Armenian Odar Reads

  5. Pingback: The Uncommon Reader ~ Alan Bennett | Bart's Bookshelf

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