An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Genre: literary fiction
I read it as a(n): audiobook
Narrator: Alan Bennett
Her Grace’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
This was a totally delightful little diversion. The Queen has discovered a love of reading and it’s affecting her ability to do – or rather, her interest in doing – her royal duties. Her family, government officials, and courtiers are Not Amused by her newfound obsession, either.
Mostly I thought this was a witty little story with several places that made me laugh out loud. I admit I know little of Queen Elizabeth’s personal life so I have no idea if she was never a reader until later in her life or not. I do know she basically had to ask to be educated because she wasn’t supposed to be the monarch and then, well. Whoops. So maybe she wasn’t much of a reader. What was funny though was that all her snobby officials and courtiers didn’t have a clue what she was talking about when making references to some very famous authors and their books. So they came across as boneheads, which I am sure was Bennett’s intention.
I did think it was kind of sad too that no one other than Norman, the former kitchen boy, was at all supportive of her reading. They all treated her like either a dumb old woman in need of humoring or someone who shouldn’t have any personal interests and just do boring duties 100% of the time. I don’t care who you are, everyone ought to have interests outside of work and support of friends or family.
There is a lot of social commentary in this small book, from class and social rank to the obligations a ruler owes to their country to the many virtues of literature. Lots to think about. My book club picked this as our next read and I’m glad. I imagine it will generate some great discussion.