The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett

The Uncommon Reader
2007, 121 pages, UK

The Uncommon Reader is a novella about the reading habits of Queen Elisabeth II of England. While walking her corgis, the Queen visits a travelling library parked in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace. It turns out that the mobile library comes to the courtyard every Wednesday. The librarian introduces the Queen to reading novels and this marks a change in her life. Having never had a ‘normal’ life, she now begins to live in books. Her advisors, however, are not so pleased with her new hobby. The Queen continues to read and to ask questions. She also begins to write, and her insights convey a sense of humour. She then starts discussing novels with other people, with several other books and writers being mentioned in this novella. The Queen becomes so enthusiastic about reading that her work suffers from it. The end of the story is surprising. The prose Bennett writes is light and satiric. This is a proof of the power of books and how reading can change a life. A very charming novella.