Thursday, September 27, 2007

Royal Humor

The Uncommon Reader
The Uncommon Reader: A Novella 

"The Queen hestitated, because to tell the truth she wasn't sure.  She'd never taken much interest in reading.  She read, of course, as one did, but liking books was something left to other people.  It was a hobby and it was in the nature of her job that she didn't have hobbies."(p 6)

This new novella from the pen of Alan Bennett (author of the The History Boys) is without a doubt the funniest book I have read in recent memory. I started it while riding home on the bus and had a hard time keeping my seat as my laughter was almost nonstop. What a wonderful premise! Imagine the Queen of England patronizing a lending library van, and then imagine her actually reading books. The incongruity of the situation leads to hilarious consequences for the Queen, her family, her household and her subjects. From the title, a not-too-subtle reference to Virginia Woolf, to the end of this book I had a riot of uproariously fun reading. However, amidst all this fun there was a serious message about the nature, power and importance of reading: a subject that must be near and dear to the heart of the author and which all readers will continue to appreciate and wonder upon after the laughter has died away.

"You don't put your life into your books. You find it there."

"Above literature?...Who is above literature? You might as well say one was above humanity." 

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Thomas at My Porch said...

Your review gets it exactly right. My husband was downstairs when I was reading this and wanted to know what was so funny. It isn't often books make me laugh out loud.

James said...

Bennett's play The History Boys was the catalyst that I needed to start blogging regularly. I have become a fan and this wonderful novella is just another funny feather in his cap.