Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday 24 May 2008

A review of 'The Uncommon Reader' by Alan Bennett

I received my copy of 'The Uncommon Reader' by Alan Bennett only a couple of days ago and have already devoured it - it's a delightful little book (only 124 pages, those pages somewhere between A6 and A5, using a largish typeface) whose premise is that Her Majesty the Queen has an interest in reading ignited by a freak concatenation of circumstances, which start with some of Her corgis taking an unexpected turn when returning to Buckingham Palace after a walk in the gardens, thus bringing Her into contact with the Westminster Mobile Library which, unbeknown until then to Her, visits the Palace every week. To be polite She borrows a book - and this is the beginning of a whole new phase in the life of Her Majesty, culminating in ... well the punch-line at the very end is very clever and creeps up on you only once the significance of what She has just said sinks in.

Naturally, as it's written by Alan Bennett, the prose is simple, straightforward, mercifully concise and elegant. It's a clever little book that quickly draws the reader in, well worth the few hours it will take most readers to zip through it.

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