“At Windsor it was the evening of the state banquet and as the president of France took his place beside Her Majesty, they royal family formed up behind and the procession slowly moved off and through into the Waterloo Chamber.”
The Uncommon Reader is a short, funny, and surprisingly refreshing novella about the Queen of England and how, by accidentally coming across a travelling library, she became an avid reader rather late in life.
In her newfound interest, the Queen, as well as her equerries, staff and everyone else around her notice little changes taking place in her life. Not only has reading books made her more aware of people around her; their personalities, emotions, quirks, and even physical appearances – things that she never would have noticed, or bothered with before, it has also caused her to neglect some of her duties, or at least carry them out with less enthusiasm as before.
Though told from the point of view of the Queen of England, the Uncommon Reader is a book about how reading has the power to change people’s lives, though not necessarily for the better. Reading has power over everyone, from innocent little school children who find pleasure in storybooks, to the Queen herself who, in the book points out that “Books do not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included. (Reading) was anonymous; it was shared; it was common.”
“The Uncommon Reader” – Alan Bennett
Profile Books, 2007. 121 pages.
Personal rating: 4/5