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The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
The Uncommon Reader of Alan Bennett's novella is the Queen of England who, while trying to rein in her yapping corgis, discovers a mobile library outside Buckingham Palace. Feeling obliged, she takes a book back into the palace and is captivated by it. This feeds her hunger for more, eventually becoming a willing obsession for her. She shirks some official duties to read her books, learns to wave from her carriage and read at the same time, works books into her comments to the public, and even asks the French Prime Minister about a writer at a state dinner. Her Private Secretary and the Prime Minister worry that she might be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's and decide they have to nip it in the bud. The Queen, however, will not be denied. The Uncommon Reader has received positive reviews with The Observer saying, "The Uncommon Reader is a gloriously entertaining comic narrative, but it is also much more: a deadly serious manifesto for the potential of reading to change lives, for its ability to broaden horizons, to imagine oneself in others' shoes, and to enable one - or should that be One - to break out from the constraints of upbringing, class and education and lead the life you've always wanted. And, Bennett ponders, who might need that more than the Queen?"