The plot is pretty simple - one fine day, the Queen of England chases her yapping dogs across the palace grounds. They - and she - end up in front of the City of Westminster's bookmobile. Curious, the queen steps inside. Although she reads, of course, "liking books was something she left to other people" (6). On this occasion, she decides to check out a book just to avoid the awkwardness of the situation. Armed with a novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett, she heads back to her home. Soon, the queen is visiting the bookmobile every week, checking out books by all kinds of authors on all kinds of subjects. She just can't get enough. The queen's advisors, however, are not quite as enthusiastic. Since discovering books, the queen has been performing her duties with considerably less elan - she waves listlessly from her car, while hiding a book on her lap; fakes colds to further her reading time; and asks unprepared dignitaries for book recommendations. One of the servants sums it up nicely: "Her Majesty is getting to be what is known as a handful" (42).
The queen's staff plots ways to distract her from reading, but she will not be put off her new hobby. Her interest will have funny and interesting consequences throughout her household and kingdom.Bennett's novella charms in so many ways, offering a humorous plot, colorful characters, and surprising insight. Any voracious reader will recognize him/herself in the queen, and revel with her as she discovers the joy books bring. As long as they can handle a little "color," The Uncommon Reader should delight bibliophiles of every stripe.
P.S. Since this one didn't make the Grandma cut, I'm still looking for a clean read to give her for Christmas. Any ideas?(Book Image from Barnes & Noble)