Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Uncommon Reader

Finished The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett yesterday. It's a delightful book. I had read about it in The New York Times Book Review a few weeks ago. As a novella it's quite short so you can breeze through it pretty quickly.

The Queen has an unexpected encounter with the Bookmobile and out of politeness is compelled to borrow a book. This launches her on a journey she never foresaw. Along the way there are numerous references to books that are old friends to seasoned readers.

One thing I found particularly interesting was the way in which members of the Queen's staff, and those beyond, continually attempt to sabotage her efforts to "catch up" on all the books she's missed over the years. Reading for pleasure is an entirely new pastime for the Queen. Her relentlessly regimented existence begins to change. Reading gives small things and insignificant people meaning. Things that were beyond her notice before are now obvious and troubling to her. It's a funny book. I liked the Queen and I found myself rooting for her.

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