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The Uncommon Reader - The Queen's reading list


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I haven't quite worked out the time scale. Didn't she get through Proust exceptionally quickly? Not to mention Henry James, one day at dinner. Surely that wasn't The Portrait of a Lady?

I wonder what books the queen really does read. I once read that she likes PD James but that might not mean anything - or it might mean that she likes the Dame's hats, or something.

I thought the section where Beckett and Nabokov are kept from her for quite a while was rather funny but also not entirely believable - I mean, can the queen really be as sexually naive as all that? Wasn't her mother meant to have been... you know... a bit of a goer, in her time? Isn't the story about Mrs Simpson that she knew all sorts of... err... tricks... that captivated the king?

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She did seem to go from non-reader to 'expert' reader in a short time, but I put that down to a necessary device to move the plot along and it didn't bother me. What I thought unlikely was the length of time it took her to exert her queenly authority. Is reading really that obnoxious?

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What I thought unlikely was the length of time it took her to exert her queenly authority.
I'm with you there. Who'd really question the Queen like that?

 

Is reading really that obnoxious?
That also seemed like a rather dated conceit. Yes, I can see that Bennett is trying the old 'reading encourages dangerous thinking', and that this conceit would be pretty interesting if exercised with a person in already obvious power...but, isn't a rather dated conceit? Okay, maybe not in a setting like Iraq, Afghanistan...but in modern England? With the royals? We can't possibly still believe that or swallow it as a plot conflict? Surely? Apart from the Queen not making a charity engagement or two - I really don't get the point of exercising this threat.
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I haven't quite worked out the time scale. Didn't she get through Proust exceptionally quickly? Not to mention Henry James, one day at dinner.
Well, she had a lot of catching up to do! At nearly eighty you can't afford to hang about and anyway, new enthusiasms do tend to occupy a proportionately greater amount of ones available time.
I thought the section where Beckett and Nabokov are kept from her for quite a while was rather funny but also not entirely believable - I mean, can the queen really be as sexually naive as all that? Wasn't her mother meant to have been... you know... a bit of a goer, in her time? Isn't the story about Mrs Simpson that she knew all sorts of... err... tricks... that captivated the king?

I doubt if she would have been surprised or shocked (her sister had a bit of a reputation, too,), but I expect Norman was wary of offering anything at all 'unsuitable' - although having worked with old ladies he should have known better ;)

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  • 2 weeks later...

The problem with audiobooks is that you can't quickly riffle through them to look up a particular reference, but I remember feeling a bit cross with Alan Bennett as I'm sure he made Her Maj disappointed in the lack of literary works on her trip to Canada.

 

If I remember correctly, she met Alice Munro (today awarded the 2009 Mann Booker International Prize), but seems not to have been introduced to the works of the many other excellent Canadian writers.

 

I would have slipped at least one novel of each of these authors into her suitcase:

Margaret Atwood

Robertson Davies

Joy Kogawa

Margaret Laurence

Yann Martel

Anne Michaels

Rohinton Mistry

Michael Ondaatje

Mordecai Richler

Carol Shields

 

It makes me wonder about AB's knowledge of modern writers.

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  • 5 months later...
The problem with audiobooks is that you can't quickly riffle through them to look up a particular reference.
That is the biggest problem I have with them.

Yes, a list of all the books she read would have been nice. I thought it was quite a variety, yet sometimes odd choice of books she had. Probably due to her first adviser.

One thing really struck me. Somebody in our modern world had to hide her books. Guess I'm glad I'm not the Queen. ;)

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