— Love @ 22:19 Comments (3)
Filed under: A, English, Fiction
The Uncommon Reader
by Alan Bennett
Faber and Faber
First line: At Windsor it was the evening of the state banquet and as the president of France took his place beside Her Majesty, the royal family formed up behind and the procession slowly moved off and through into the Waterloo Chamber.
Back cover blurb:
Led by her yapping corgis to the Westminster travelling library outside Buckingham Palace, the Queen finds herself taking out a novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett. Duff read though it is, the following week her choice proves more enjoyable and awakens in Her Majesty a passion for reading so great that her public duties begin to suffer. And so, as she devours work by everyone from Hardy to Brookner to Proust to Beckett, her equerries conspire to bring the Queen’s literary odyssey to a close.
Thoughts: This book is made of awesome and that’s a fact. I read it in just a little over an hour and I kind of wish I hadn’t read it yet, so I could read it again for the first time.
I love the ending. I think it was absolutely fab. The rest also. I laughed out loud more than once and giggled madly about three times that.
There was a paragraph—well, not actually even a whole paragraph really, but a bit of a paragraph— at the beginning of the book that made me shout with glee. This, to be exact:
[…] he was largely self-taught, his reading tending to be determined by whether an author was gay or not.
Because I have a tendency to do that. Well, not exactly. More like I tend to turn towards books that I know have gay characters, even if maybe they don’t sound terribly exciting otherwise. I am hooked on boy on boy, okay? IT IS AN *AFFLICTION, BUT I AM NOT ASHAMED! (I am, however, operating on about four hours of sleep and um, it’s starting to show?) Almost, without fail, if a book has a gay character, he will be my favourite. I am terribly predictable about this, but there it is. (And it doesn’t apply to females. Because most of the time I couldn’t care less about the womenfolk. Which is, err, not so great, actually.)
Aaaaanyway, then I finished the book and read the blurb about the author. And I realised I was well daft and that Alan Bennett of The Uncommon Reader is Alan Bennett of The History Boys, which set my gaydar off big time. Because there were certain elements in The Uncommon Reader and there were also elements in The History Boys (very cute elements. V.v. cute elements! Adorable, even! I should read the play. Like, yesterday) and sometimes I have a functioning gaydar.** After a quick Wikipedia check, I had all the confirmation I needed.
And that’s when I cracked up about the quote again. Because it shouldn’t matter, and it doesn’t, but it does. (One day I will show you the little symbols I use in my little black book of books and you will laugh at me.) HI, I’M SHALLOW AND I LIKE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS.
I think I might have got a bit sidetracked there. Y’know, just a smidgen. The Uncommon Reader gets an A grade, because it’s brilliant, but not because it has boy on boy (it doesn’t. Really) or because my gaydar worked on the author, but because it is about books and about reading and it’s funny and quirky and I LOVED IT!
Um, I think I should go to bed now…
*Being hooked on it, I mean. Not the boy on boy. Never!
**Which would be useful, except it only works on authors and fictional characters, more’s the pity.