The Uncommon Reader

The Uncommon Reader

Book rating: 04 Paperback Picador

By (author) Alan Bennett

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  • Publisher: Picador USA
  • Format: Paperback | 120 pages
  • Dimensions: 117mm x 178mm x 10mm | 113g
  • Publication date: 1 October 2008
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 0312427646
  • ISBN 13: 9780312427641
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 14,877

Product description

From one of England's most celebrated writers, the author of the award-winning "The History Boys," a funny and superbly observed novella about the Queen of England and the subversive power of reading When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.

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Author information

Alan Bennett has been one of England's leading dramatists since the success of "Beyond the Fringe "in the 1960s. His work includes the "Talking Heads" television series, and the stage plays "Forty Years On," "The Lady in the Van, A Question of Attribution, "and "The Madness of King George III." His most recent play, "The History Boys," now a major motion picture won six Tony Awards, including best play, in 2006. In the same year his memoir, "Untold Stories," was a number-one bestseller in the United Kingdom.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 19 Feb 2012 5

The Uncommon Reader is a novella by novelist and playwright, Alan Bennett. The story starts with the Queen coming across the mobile library van parked near Buckingham Palace, where Norman, a young man from the kitchens, is choosing a book. After making small talk with the driver/librarian and the kitchen hand, she feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Which she, of course, dutifully reads and returns the following week for another. Soon enough, she has Norman transferred from the kitchens to assist her in her new favourite pastime, reading. This delightful dose of British humour speculates on what happens to the royal duties and the royal household as the Queen gives in to her obsession. Full of laugh-out-loud moments, especially the last line.

By Gillian Camilleri 19 Jan 2011 4

A lovely easy to read fictional novel which shows us how dangerous it can be if you become an avid reader who then wants to become a writer.......especially if you are the queen.......

Review quote

"Alan Bennett is one of the greatest comic writers alive, and "The Uncommon Reader" is Bennett at his best--touching, thoughtful, hilarious, and exquisite in its observations."--Helen Fielding, author of "Bridget Jones's Diary""In "The Uncommon Reader", Bennett poses a delicious and very funny what-if . . . a delightful little book that unfolds into a witty meditation on the subversive pleasures of reading. . . . Mr. Bennett has written a captivating fairy tale . . . a tale that showcases its author's customary elan and keen but humane wit."--Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times""Hilarious and stunning . . . The conceit offered here by Mr. Bennett, the beloved British author and dramatist, is that a woman of power can find and love the power in books. It is a simple equation and one that yields deep rewards. In what is a surprising and surprisingly touching novella, Mr. Bennett shows us why books matter to the queen, his "uncommon reader" and why they matter so much to the rest of us."--Carol Herman, "The Washington Times""Hilarious and pointed . . . "The Uncommon Reader" is a political and literary satire. But it's also a lovely lesson in the redemptive and subversive power of reading and how one book can lead to another and another and another. . . . But most of all, "The Uncommon Reader" is a lot of fun to read."--Bob Minzesheimer, "USA"" Today""One of the most subtly ingratiating prose stylists of our time . . . charming enough and wise enough that you will certainly want to keep it around for rereading--unless you decided to share it with friends."--Michael Dirda, "The Washington Post""Clever and entertaining . . . "The Uncommon Reader" is a celebration of both reading and its counterpart, independent thinking."--Maud Newton, "Los Angeles"" Times"