Review : The Uncommon Reader

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Pages : 120
Genre : Fiction
Stand alone
My Rating :

From Goodreads :

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 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.

The Uncommon Reader was a surprise I hadn’t expected, even though it had been recommended quite often! It was a quick and enjoyable read, which gave me a lot to think about – and a lot of great quotes, too. Watching the queen discover reading, and the little habits that come with it, was such a joy! I kept thinking, “Oh, I do that too!” It’s definitely a book that would be more appreciated by avid readers, I believe, as they will recognize themselves and their love for books.

Some of the negatives I had heard about The Uncommon Reader concerned mostly the plot, the pace and the humor. I will tell you this, the plot is quite simple : The queen discoverd the joy of reading, which opens her view on the world and the people inhabiting it. The End. There really isn’t much more to it : no big twist or animated characters. The book is quiet, subtle, with a sense of humor that’s mostly ironic, but with a certain softness to it. I wouldn’t say the book is slow (it didn’t seem so to me), but if you’re looking for a story that moves in some direction with revelations or action, you might find this story a bit static.

Here are some of the quotes I liked, though there were many more. The pages refer to my ebook version, which was a short 59 pages read.

What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren’t long enough for the reading she wanted to do. (p. 11)

Not a huge revelation indeed, just something I think all readers can easily relate to! As to this :

“I think of literature”, she wrote, “as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but cannot possibly reach. And I have started too late. I will never catch up.” (p. 23)

There is far more to this little book, but I’ll encourage you to discover it on your own, delicious as it is!

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6 responses to “Review : The Uncommon Reader”

  1. Mary says :

    I read this book (maybe) two years ago during the Christmas rush. It was the perfect book for a busy, hectic (and fun) time. I loved the simplicity of it and yet it was sweet and I thought a bit of a page turner as I wanted to see where it “went”. I like your review 🙂

  2. bermudaonion says :

    You’re right – the plot to this novella is simple, but it’s still a joy to read.

  3. Steph says :

    I still haven’t read this one, though I think it would be great for when I’m looking for a short, diverting read. So glad to see you enjoyed it so much!

  4. kay says :

    Mary : I agree, it was both sweet and a page turner! Even though it’s a quiet pace, it’s a good one and so well written!

    Kathy : Absolutely! A precious one.

    Steph : Yes, it really is a quick read! Perfect for when you don’t have much time to read, or for if you want to sit down and read something in one sitting. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

  5. Lenore says :

    I keep hearing great things about this one. Need to get it one of these days.

  6. Vasilly says :

    I read this years ago and loved it! So glad to hear that you enjoyed it too. There are a few passages about reading that I noted.

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