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The Uncommon Reader | [Alan Bennett]

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

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There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

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  • 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
  • A User
    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
  • P. D. Smith
    Huddersfield, UK
    1/13/08
    Overall
    "Short & pleasant listen"

    I was a bit dubious about getting this book, but I'm glad I did, it was very pleasant to listen to, being well written and well read. On the surface it is light-hearted, but there's an undertone of criticism of people in public office (not the Queen, who is portrayed in a good light).

    The only thing I would say, is that it probably isn't something to listen to with young children around. Whilst most of it is totally 'U' rated there are a couple of '15' rated phrases which would certainly have you scrabbling for the 'stop' button if you're listening to it with youngsters present...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

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