The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The Uncommon Reader

The title of Alan Bennett’s novella is a play on words as the main character is of course not common at all.  The plot is simple: the Queen of England suddenly becomes a voracious reader, much to the chagrin of her handlers.  Although fiction, the story presents one scenario for a ‘behind the curtain’ look at the complicated life of a monarch.  This is a delightful, quick read.

The Queen of England’s Corgis get loose and end up in a mobile library van.  The Queen finds them inside the van and meets the driver/librarian and Norman, a kitchen boy who is a member of her staff.   Norman, being very well read and smart, catches the attention of the Queen who moves him out of the kitchen and upstairs to the floor she lives on.  His job is basically to help the Queen find books to read and discuss them with her. Norman guides her to all different kinds of books and the Queen is thrilled.  

I am a huge fan of the Queen.  She is one of my living heroes.  I find her to be an extremely strong, intelligent woman who has given her life for her country.  Although this is a work of fiction I can not help but think that there is some truth to it. The queen is in fact human and she has given up a great deal of herself over the years.  This book does a great job of presenting the reader with just how controlled her life must be and how much she has not been allowed to experience that which we so take for granted.  And yet, it is a whimsical adventure that will make you laugh and snicker.  

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