What would happen if the Queen became a reader of taste and discernment rather than of Dick Francis? The answer is a perfect story.
About the book
'Oh Norman,' said the Queen, 'the prime minister doesn't seem to have read any Hardy. Perhaps you could find him one of our old paperbacks on his way out.' Had the dogs not taken exception to the strange van parked in the royal grounds, the Queen might never have learnt of the Westminster travelling library's weekly visits to the palace. But finding herself at its steps, she goes up to apologise for all the yapping and ends up taking out a novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett, last borrowed in 1989. Duff read though it proves to be, upbringing demands she finish it and, so as not to appear rude, she withdraws another. This second, more fortunate choice of book awakens in Her Majesty a passion for reading so great that her public duties begin to suffer. And so, as she devours work by everyone from Hardy to Brookner to Proust to Samuel Beckett, her equerries conspire to bring the Queen's literary odyssey to a close. Subversive and highly enjoyable, The Uncommon Reader offers the perfect argument for reading, written by one of its great champions, Alan Bennett.
For all its hilarity The Uncommon Reader has a heartfelt tone. It offers a lament on old age, some thoughts on reticence and a backward glance at a life wasted.
An exquisitely produced jewel of a book.
Pure gold ... you would be hard put to find a defter satire on British philistinism ... the dialogue is priceless.
Light, fresh, witty and warm.
Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader would make a perfect stocking filler for just about anyone.