It's been a productive week - I finished two books and a short story. The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home by George Howe Colt was finished well before Friday's book club meeting which, unfortunately, got cancelled at the last minute. The plan is to discuss two books at the June meeting, but I'm a little skeptical. We'll see...
I spent Friday evening with Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader. How is it that I missed this author and this little gem of a book? Most commenters on my library loot post loved it, and a couple others plan to read it soon, yet it was barely on my radar until I saw several positive mentions last week.
The premise is simple. The Queen of England happens to wander into a traveling library van as she chases her corgis outside Buckingham palace. Once inside, she feels it only polite to check out a book. However, not being much of a reader, she has no idea what to choose. She settles on a book written by an author whose name is familiar.
'What a treat!' she hugged it unconvincingly before opening it. 'Oh. The last time it was taken out was in 1989.'
'She's not a popular author, ma'am.'
'Why, I wonder? I made her a dame.'
Mr. Hutchings refrained from saying that this wasn't necessarily the road to the public's heart. (page 8)
Guided by Norman, a kitchen boy, the Queen gradually begins to develop a passion for reading. To the dismay of others (including the Prime Minister), this occurs at the expense of her official duties.
"...she was finding...how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do."
This "dawn of sensibility" was mistaken for the onset of senility. Efforts are made to curb the Queen's reading, as her growing self-discovery begins to steer her toward writing.
In addition to some very funny lines, there are wonderful lessons found within these 120 pages. I can heartily recommend this book to nearly everyone I know, and will be on the lookout for more of Alan Bennett's work. I've seen some very positive reviews for The Clothes They Stood up In!
This week I'm looking forward to reading The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry. It is the last book on my list for the Spring Reading Thing. What will you be reading this week?