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The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett


Derek Haas
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I looked for a thread on this but couldn't find one, other than a few people mentioning they had bought the book or were beginning to read it.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed it... read it in two hours. Anyone who loves books and who has thought about writing one should enjoy this. It's witty, often funny, and creates a refreshing character out of a very public figure.

 

A quick afternoon read while you're tackling something more imposing...

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I looked for a thread on this but couldn't find one, other than a few people mentioning they had bought the book or were beginning to read it.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed it... read it in two hours. Anyone who loves books and who has thought about writing one should enjoy this. It's witty, often funny, and creates a refreshing character out of a very public figure.

 

A quick afternoon read while you're tackling something more imposing...

 

This is in my amazon shopping basket. It will probably make it to my birthday or Christmas list. I've not read any Alan Bennet before, but this looks like a good little starter kit :)

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I'm halfway through it, so I'll come back to this thread when I've finished it! I'm enjoying the way the footmen etc are finding reading such a subversive act. Not so keen on Queenie's attitude to the fantasy genre though! :) :)

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That's it - I've succumbed and ordered it! I've been eyeing it up for quite a while now and I finally gave in. It should arrive withn the next week or so...

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Well, I finished this last night and despite my earlier post, I wasn't that impressed. I thought it started out well but declined around the middle and became quite boring and repetitive. It seemed to meander along without really getting anywhere.

 

This is the first Alan Bennett I've read, and I wasn't too keen on his style or sentence construction. There were a few sentences I had to read two or three times before they made sense.

 

It was okay, but for such an interesting idea I think it could have been a whole lot more than it was. It was like Bennett just scratched the surface without really getting into things (it is a very thin book). There were a couple of laugh out loud moments but for superior humour and satire I prefer Sue Townsend, who makes it seem effortless. This was rather laboured, in my opinion.

 

ETA: Yes, the last line was good.

Edited by Mia
Forgot the last bit.
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  • 2 weeks later...

There were lots of things I liked about this little novella. I liked the way that the peripheral characters were portrayed, especially the Duke (even though he didn't feature a great deal), and I thought that the build-up of the Queen's relationship with Norman was both plausible and touching. What I didn't believe

after all the build up of their rapport is that the Queen wouldn't take the time to find out where Norman was when he left whilst she was away.

 

 

I don't know anything about life inside a royal palace and yet the staff and the characters in the advisory roles felt real.

 

I really enjoyed the facts about real authors/books which were dropped into the book. I do wonder whether Alan Bennett and the Queen have met and whether she said something to him in passing which gave him the idea for the book.

 

I liked the way that the Queen softened her attitude to "real" people throughout the book, for example, when she said "oh do get on with it" to someone in her book and then called the maid to ensure she didn't think it was her to whom the Queen was referring.

 

It had some sparks of brilliance and some really funny lines, and I loved the ending, but despite all this, it left me feeling ultimately unsatisfied, although I can't really put my finger on why.

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I have to admit, I found this little book absolutely hilarious! So witty! I could imagine things happening excatly that way and, yo'ure right, the ending it superb!

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  • 4 months later...

This is a completely lovely little book, a warm and comfortingly funny read. I've never read any other Alan Bennett, although I've always wanted to, as whenever I see him interviewed, he comes across as a very interesting man.

 

I have another of his books at home, so maybe when I've cleared by TBR pile a bit more, I'll try and read that one as well.

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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 3 years later...

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. Faber and Faber (2007)

 

Mr Bennett wrote this in 2007 but it remains as apposite, if not more so, in 2012. It is invariably described as 'charming' or 'delightful' and won't fail to disappoint on that level. It tells of the Queen stumbling across a mobile library which visits the courtyards of Buckingham Palace - and how she then rediscovers the joy of reading. Her joy of reading, however, slowly takes over from her joy of performing royal duties.

 

It's written in Mr Bennett's own delightful way with some delicious 'observations' on the private life of the most private person in Britain (it's hard to forget in these celebrity times that she's one celebrity who has never given an interview).

 

But you are left thinking (I was going to say 'one is left thinking' but that would be awful!) 'Why have I never seen the Queen reading a book?' Perhaps she is an avid reader in private. Or as Mr Bennett suggests, she might do it surreptitiously in her carriage while waving to the crowds. Or she might be as disinterested in reading as many folk are in this technological age.

 

But if she does read books, what genre does she read? Barbara Cartland? Modern gothic? Poetry? Celebrity biographies? Or perhaps Fifty Shades of Gray on a Kindle she keeps in her handbag?

 

And wouldn't it be a boost to reading if she was photographed reading a book. (It would be even more cool though if Prince Harry was snapped reading a book by Alan Bennett!).

 

So c'mon ma'am: The next time you're in your carriage, just lift the book off your lap so we can all be delighted, saddened, shocked - or amused!

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I think I'll bump this book up my TBR pile. :)

 

I recommend you do that!

 

I just recently re-read this, and it was adorable. I found a lot of things in common with the way the Queen writing lists of books and looking for more to read and my own bookish journey. it was like reading my own sentiments on the way things have changed for me after joining the BCF :D

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