THE UNCOMMON READER by Alan Bennett.
Led by her yapping corgis to the Westminster travelling library outside Buckingham Palace, the Queen finds herself taking out a novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett. Duff read though it is, the following week her choice proves more enjoyable and awakens in her Majesty a passion for reading so great that her public duties begin to suffer. And so, as she devours work by everyone from Hardy to Brookner to Proust, her equerries conspire to bring the Queen's literary odyssey to a close.
..... From the back cover.
First Sentence: At Windsor it was the evening of the state banquet and as the president of France took his place beside Her Majesty, the royal family formed up behind and the procession slowly moved off and through into the Waterloo Chamber.
Memorable Moment: It transpired that with no prior notification to her attendants the Queen had abandoned her long-standing lines of inquiry - length of service, distance travelled, place of origin - and had embarked on a new conversational gambit, namely, "What are you reading at the moment?" To this very few of Her Majesty's loyal subjects had a ready answer (though one did try: "The Bible?")
A Book Club read and probably not a book I would have picked up for myself. Written by Alan Bennett, an author for some reason I wouldn't have thought of reading, and with a rather plain red cover, this book would, more than likely, have stayed on the shelf - just goes to show how wrong I could be.
"A beguiling bedtime story for grown-ups" claims the Daily Telegraph. "A masterpiece of comic brevity" says the Observer. The Uncommon Reader is both of these and so much more.
At only 121 pages, it may seem like a short read and it is but, that said, it's long enough - any longer and I think the author may have been in danger of ruining what was a wonderful, at times, laugh-out-loud novel, full of witty observations - I just love the idea of the Queen neglecting her royal duties (not to mention her corgis) in order to read.
With an ending that both Husband dearest and I found ever so slightly disappointing though I really can't say why without giving away some of the plot - all I will say is, this book is well worth the read.
MY RATING: 5 out of a possible 5.