Monday, 27 January 2014

In praise of Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader

A friend, whose literary opinion I respect, waxed lyrical over the weekend about Alan Bennett's novel 'The Uncommon Reader'. I’ve been aware of it since it was published and, considering its length, I have no idea why I haven't picked it up sooner. A mere slip of a thing, it was a delight to read. Light, funny and really interesting: I finished it in a couple of relatively short sittings. It tells the story of the Queen who comes across a mobile library one day in the grounds of Buckingham Palace and decides to borrow a book for the first time. Not ever having really read any books before, she soon becomes captivated to the point of obsession: reading all the books she can and neglecting her duties as head of state. The consequences of this are far-reaching and, without giving too much of the plot away, brought joy to my republican heart.

With its unique and very funny plot, Bennett’s writing style is a pleasure to read: it’s so easy and flows effortlessly. As always with the author, there are lots of eminently quotable lines scattered throughout and some wry observations of the British way. I would definitely recommend it - and I thank my friend for pointing me in its direction.
One likes a good read one does, especially when one's book is about one.

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