Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review -- The Uncommon Reader


The Uncommon ReaderThe Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source:  Personal copy (birthday present!)
Genre:  Fiction -- novella
Objectionable material:  crude mention of sexual act -- and I'm not sure why?

Royal waves, tiaras, weddings, princes, princesses…suffice it to say, I’m a closet royalist.

Diana, Katherine, William, Elizabeth – I love them all (except maybe Camilla) and would gladly live as a royal for at least one day.

With that obsession background – it’s only obvious that I would adore Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader – a reimagining of Queen Elizabeth, in her later years, becoming a voracious reader.

With the appearance of the mobile library in the palace courtyard, Queen Elizabeth’s day to day life is about to change dramatically. Once focused on the needs of her subjects, The Queen is now eager to read the next book in her TBR stack.

I loved this book. In addition to being witty, original, and uniquely British – it was also a lexiconic wonderland of words like opsimath, amanuensis, and solipsistic.

Additionally – the Queen had some great quotes (and thoughts):

“…briefing is not reading. Briefing is terse, factual and to the point. Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting.”

And

“Pass time…books are not about passing time. They are about other lives. Other worlds. Far from wanting time to pass…one just wishes one had more of it. If one wanted to pass the time one could go to New Zealand.”

And

Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included.

My only quibble with this book – there was a reference to a sexual act that was odd and totally unnecessary. Really muddied the entire experience for me.

Aside from that – if you fancy a jolly good read (you can read this in one sitting), please pick up this book.  In the end, you’ll realize that you and the Queen have far more in common than you once thought.

Keep calm & carry a good book.