Thursday, July 23, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

Title: The Uncommon Reader
Author: Alan Bennett
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2008
Reason for reading: Library Thing Early Reviewers

The Uncommon Reader is a satire that pokes fun at the British monarchy while celebrating literature. The book opens as the Queen chases her irascible corgis right up to a bookmobile parked outside the kitchen at Windsor. Entering to apologize for the ruckus, the Queen feels obligated to check out a book. Palace life changes as the Queen discovers reading and the variety of life presented between book covers. She loses interest in her day-to-day obligations and is even late to the opening of Parliament as she pursues her new interest. The Queen confuses those around her by no longer following standard conversational protocol and instead broaches more literary and thoughtful discussions. After a year of such "common" behavior, the Prime Minister takes action in order to restore the more comfortable and understandable status quo.

Bennett does a fantastic job making the reader identify with the Queen. Through the commonality of reading, the Queen takes on an unusual warmth and human depth. It is a pleasant scenario, but clearly outside of reality. That said, you will wonder how Bennett plans to bring us all back to reality without spoiling the fun ... and he will surprise with a perfect ending.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Note to other reviewers: If you've written a review for this book, please let me know by posting the permanent URL for your review in the comments. I'll be happy to add a link to your review with my post.

Also reviewed by:
nymeth at things mean a lot


  1. I've lots of good things about this book, Violet!

  2. So glad you enjoyed this! I really did, too. My thoughts.

  3. I've had this one on my wishlist for quite some time. The only thing I'm afraid of being disappointed in is the length of the book--I've heard it's too short!

  4. This book sounds so interesting. Thank you for the review.