24 March 2021

A Good Read

The Uncommon Reader by the wonderful treasure that is Alan Bennett
An absolutely charming, witty, (and a little cheeky) novella celebrating the pleasure of reading. Our protagonist is none other than HRH Queen Elizabeth.
One day whilst Her Majesty is  walking with her corgis in the grounds of Buckingham Palace the dogs wander off. In pursuit of them she sees the Westminster travelling library parked just  outside the Palace gates, and feels duty bound to borrow a book. Her first choice, a novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett isn’t exactly a page turner but on her next visit she meets Norman, a young man who works in the palace kitchen and frequents the library.
Aided by Norman Her Majesty soon develops a passion for reading. Devouring work from Hardy to Brookner, from Proust to Beckett, she is never without a book in her hand or her handbag, and as a consequence her public duties begin to suffer. Her equerries decide the reading has gone too far and conspire to bring the Queen’s literary journey to a close. 

Some favourite quotes:
"Read ma'am?"
"When I get a chance, ma'am. I never seem to find the time”.
"That's what a lot of people say. One must make the time. Take this morning. You're going to be sitting outside the town hall waiting for me. You could read then."
What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do.
"Books are not about passing the time. They are about other lives. Other Worlds. One reads for pleasure," said the Queen."It is not a public duty."
"You don't put your life into your books. You find it there."
As it was, with this one she soon became engrossed, and passing her bedroom that night clutching his hot-water bottle, the Duke heard her laugh out loud. He put his head around the door
"All right, old girl?''
"Of course, I'm reading."

I love the idea of Prince Phillip taking a hot water bottle to bed!

I do hope Her Majesty has read this book, and laughed out loud. It is a gem.

∼ Happy Reading ∼
Polly x


  1. It’s rare and fun to see real people in works of fiction.

    1. Yes it is Bijoux, especially the Queen!

  2. I read it a while ago and loved it. There's a line in it somewhere about Prince Philip waving "viciously" to a crowd - that's pure AB!

    1. I don't remember that but I can believe it of Prince Phillip. AB is such a brilliant writer.

  3. Yes, I've read good reviews before of this book and it's on my "to read" list -- thanks for spurring me on again to actually read it!

  4. I love Alan Bennett and this one looks just delightful. Thanks for the head's up!


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