Monday, March 02, 2009
The Uncommon Reader
128 measly pages
Last night I read The Uncommon Reader (and yes, I have 9 other books to review, 8 from February, but I figure I might as well work backwards).
I'm not really sure what to say about this little book. It's short, so I blew threw it in what seemed like no time. At times, I disliked it. But then, there would be passages like this:
"The next morning she had a little sniffle and, having no engagements, stayed in bed saying she felt she might be getting flu. This was uncharacteristic and also not true; it was actually so that she could get on with her book."I know many of you love this book. And I'll admit that I found most of the observations about reading pretty darn accurate (I mean really, how many of us have pulled that call in sick trick?). But. There's just something I can't quite put my finger on. There's a word to describe the book that I can't think of (and that's driving me mildly crazy). And the end! WTF was up with the end??
Here's the synopsis, for those of you who haven't read it:
From Publishers Weekly
Briskly original and subversively funny, this novella from popular British writer Bennett (Untold Stories; Tony-winning play The History Boys) sends Queen Elizabeth II into a mobile library van in pursuit of her runaway corgis and into the reflective, observant life of an avid reader. Guided by Norman, a former kitchen boy and enthusiast of gay authors, the queen gradually loses interest in her endless succession of official duties and learns the pleasure of such a common activity. With the dawn of her sensibility... mistaken for the onset of senility, plots are hatched by the prime minister and the queen's staff to dispatch Norman and discourage the queen's preoccupation with books. Ultimately, it is her own growing self-awareness that leads her away from reading and toward writing, with astonishing results. Bennett has fun with the proper behavior and protocol at the palace, and the few instances of mild coarseness seem almost scandalous. There are lessons packed in here, but Bennett doesn't wallop readers with them. It's a fun little book.
Okay, I'll admit. It was fun (at times). But it kind of reminds me a bit of The Five People You Meet in Heaven, or The Alchemist. I'm not a big fan of little moral lessons in my books, especially if said book is short. It bothers me. I feel like I paid money for a sermon, and considering I don't even do free sermons, that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I think I read this for the Dewey's Books Challenge. Yup, I did. Since I had to go look for my original list, now would be a good time to remind myself of what I pledged to read:
Looking for Alaska by John Green - finished
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi - finished
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett - finished
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie