Several people had recommended The Uncommon Reader
to me over the last year, but somehow I only got around to it this morning. Don't be as slow as I was! The idea is very simple - the Queen gets hooked on reading - but Bennett handles it perfectly. It's a delight, and takes about an hour to read.
Maybe a short extract will do the job:
'Exploded?' said the Queen. 'But it was Anita Brookner.'
The young man, who seemed remarkably undeferential, said security may have thought it was a device.
The Queen said: 'Yes. That is exactly what it is. A book is a device to ignite the imagination.'
The footman said: 'Yes, ma'am.'
It was as if he was talking to his grandmother, and not for the first time the Queen was made unpleasantly aware of the hostility her reading seemed to arouse.
'Very well,' she said. 'Then you should inform security that I shall expect to find another copy of the same book, vetted and explosive-free, waiting on my desk tomorrow morning. And another thing. The carriage cushions are filthy. Look at my gloves.' Her Majesty departed.
'Fuck,' said the footman, fishing out the book from where he had been told to hide it down the front of his breeches.