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The Uncommon Reader Radio/TV Program

The Uncommon Reader

When the queen chases a straying corgi through the grounds of Buckingham Palace, she happens upon the City of Westminster travelling library, and begins a journey of discovery.
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Publisher's Summary

It was the corgis' fault. When they strayed through the grounds of Buckingham Palace, the Queen discovered the City of Westminster travelling library. The Queen has never had much time for reading - pleasure's always come second place to duty - "though now that one is here I suppose one ought to borrow a book". She is about to discover the joys of literature, albeit late in life. One book leads to another and the Queen is soon engrossed in the delights of reading.

However, this uncommon reader creates an uncommon problem. The royal household dislikes the Queen's new interest; it makes them uneasy. Books are devices that ignite the imagination. And devices like that are likely to explode.

Alan Bennett reads his new story about HM the Queen's all-consuming new interest, as heard on BBC Radio 4. This exclusive and extended edition is twice as long as originally broadcast.

©2007 Alan Bennett; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd

What the Critics Say

"A masterpiece of comic brevity." (Observer)
"An exquisitely produced jewel of a book...[but] beneath the tasteful gilt-and-beige cover seethes a savagely Swiftian indignation against stupidity, Philistinism and arrogance in public places, and a passionate argument for the civilising power of art." (The Times, London)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (189 )
5 star
 (106)
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1 star
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Overall
4.3 (104 )
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Story
4.5 (101 )
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Performance


Sort by:
  • A. HOLLOWAY
    redhill, surrey
    1/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant, classic Bennet"

    Through the simple concept of the monarch's newly discovered interest in literature, Bennet weaves an elegant tale of self discovery that injects a degree of controlled anarchy in a world previously governed by duty which has an unforeseen impact on those around her. Bennett's style is as brilliant as ever and evokes laughter, empathy and deep thought in the listener. A real gem.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amanda
    St Pierre de Cole, France
    6/28/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "My 1st foray into Mr Bennett, quite the eye-opener"
    What did you like most about The Uncommon Reader?

    I loved the normality of the library bus being at Buckingham Palace! What a hoot!


    Any additional comments?

    I'm encouraged to read more of Mr. Bennetts offerings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    Gloucester, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Rather fine comedy"

    What would happen to the objective and unattached nature of the monarchy were the Queen to become interested in books? How would the mechanics of state respond if the Queen studied literature and sought to apply what she learnt from classics to her life and position? This is the hypothesis of this excellent story told in Bennett's customary wry humour which parodies so much about what it is to be British and the class system. I found myself getting very strange looks on the bus as I guffawed out loud at yet another downbeat but hilarious sentence from the master of prose. Unmissable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    5/29/12
    Overall
    "The dangers of reading"

    Very Alan Bennett, but (or should it be 'of course') it still raised more than one smile. He brings the joys, outcomes and dangers of being a reader to life. An essay wrapped in a small jewel of a short story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wendy
    Denny, Stirlingshire, United Kingdom
    3/8/09
    Overall
    "A delight from beginning to end"

    I can't be sure if it is Alan Bennett's reading, his writing or a combination of the two; but I found this book refreshing and entertaining. As I busied myself around the place I found it lifted the spirits and was the nearest thing to a book you couldn't put down - for the ears! I have already recommended it to friends and family! :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ann
    Shoeburyness, United Kingdom
    12/24/08
    Overall
    "The benefits of audiobooks"

    I really liked this. I don't think I've ever read much more than the scripts for some of his TV plays, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It's a difficult topic, writing a piece of fiction around a person who not only existed but is still very much alive, but he's done a brilliant job. It is a gentle story but with some lovely acerbic moments, and I've already recommended it to friends.
    I hadn't noticed hwo much time I had left of the audiobook so when the end came, it was quite a surprise ! I think reading it in book form might have hinted that something dramatic was going to happen, so I'm glad I had this from Audible.
    Not all authors are good at reading out their work but Mr Bennett does a marvellous job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Janet
    Knaresborough, Nth Yorks, United Kingdom
    11/8/08
    Overall
    "A perfect listen"

    Could not be better read, could not be better written. Perfection. I have listened to it several times and tire of it not one bit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • L. Presley
    Yorkshire
    8/2/08
    Overall
    "Just wonderful!"

    What a wonderful reading by the man himself. I was laughing out loud whilst driving. I was only disappointed that it wasn't longer. Listen to it now!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    United Kingdom
    3/20/08
    Overall
    "Lighthearted listen"

    This listen is a really good lark. Just picture Her Majesty reading instead of doing all the boring things she is obliged to do. How many times must she long to kick off her shoes and settle down to doing something she likes? Well, in this book she does exactly that - much to the consternation of those around her.

    The really sad, and interesting, thing about it all is that it highlights the fact that Her Majesty possibly leads a somewhat lonely life. When she finally meets someone she can converse with and relate to, up pop the Members of the Household who set to and reorganize her. I am left wondering, after the delight of the fiction which is beautifully read by the Author, whether her lonliness is a well observed fact! Read on ........

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lola Blogger
    1/20/08
    Overall
    "Sweet!"

    I'd been getting a bit low due to reading books I'd been given as presents rather than my own choices. So on a trip to London I fired this up in the car, and it was a treat, a delight, at last something I've really enjoyed. If anything, too short - it was over by the time I'd got halfway back up the M40 on the return trip.

    I was particularly intrigued by the treatment of Norman, whom the Queen encounters in her first visit to the mobile library, and whom she moves from the palace kitchen to a role as her amanuensis. His subsequent treatment and the Queen's reaction to it supply one of many 'thinking points' of the book, where the reader is encouraged to consider what the reality of life might be like as Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith and one of the most closely scrutinised individuals in the world.

    Alan Bennett has a very characteristic reading style and accent, but then he wrote the book, so presumably he reads it in the way that he heard it when he was writing it. Nicely done, and with all the professionalism that accompanies a BBC production.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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