Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Review: The Uncommon Reader

My sisters and I are beginning our own little private book club. We are all readers, some of us enthusiastically avid readers, and one sister suggested we start out with a little book called "The Uncommon Reader". 
Photo courtesy of Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads: "A deliciously funny novella that celebrates the pleasure of reading. When the Queen in pursuit of her wandering corgis stumbles upon a mobile library  she feels duty bound to borrow a book. Aided by Norman, a young man from the palace kitchen who frequents the library, Bennett describes the Queen's transformation as she discovers the liberating pleasures of the written word. With the poignant and mischievous wit of The History Boys, England's best loved author revels in the power of literature to change even the most uncommon reader's life."
After reading the first chapter, I thought I would really like it, but overall the book was disappointing. I wanted to like it more than I did. There were dozens of references to various authors and books that I had never heard of nor read, and it's packed with jargon specific to Britain, the Royalty and British politics, which I also did not understand, nor did I have the patience to go look it all up. 

And there are a couple of shockingly crude sentences, which are completely out of place in a book that, almost entirely, follows around the Queen, who is proper and classy throughout. One such is a completely unnecessary f-bomb, uttered by one of her advisors (outside her hearing), and the other is a vulgar statement said over the phone by some other leader-type person to an advisor. I was suprised and, frankly, annoyed that an otherwise mild read was peppered with trash. 

The crudity aside, though, the book just doesn't have a lot going for it. The story, while charming at first, grows tedious. I am as into reading as the Queen becomes in the story, so I totally related to the descriptions of her feeling like neglecting everything else, and wanting to read more than complete her tedious dutiful daily schedule. 

Her experiences as a reader, and her evolution into a more thoughtful, in-touch Queen was fine, and moderately interesting, but there just wasn't enough story to keep me interested.

Luckily, it is a short book and I was able to plow through it in two afternoons. If it hadn't been selected for a book club, though, I would never have finished it. 

Too bad. 

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