Thursday, April 17, 2008

Unintended Consequences

This is not a book to read while taking public transportation or in any other circumstance in which laughing out loud would be an embarrassment. A description of the book cannot begin to convey the enjoyment that lies in store. The book is small (literally, 5 x 7) and short (120 pages, practically double-spaced) – really two hours max if you are a slow reader as I am. But – to the point.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett tells the story of a fictionalized Queen of England who, in pursuit of her corgis, strays into a traveling bookmobile and the rest, as they say, is history. Or in this case, reading. Aided and abetted by a member of the kitchen staff, the Queen gives sway to a hitherto undeveloped passion for reading with unanticipated (her prime minister would say untoward) consequences. There are many literary references to authors and books (some familiar, others not) including a fictionalized meeting with Alice Munro; some insights into the life of a monarch; and some very profound observations about the delight, the purpose and value of reading. "Can there be a greater pleasure...than to come across an author one enjoys and then to find they have written not just one book or two, but at least a dozen."

I wonder if the real Queen of England finds this book so enjoyable. I guarantee that you as a lover of reading will.

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