Despite a reign lasting more than fifty years the queen remains an enigma. Who is she really? What does she think? How does she, if indeed she does, relax?

Taking this regal blank canvas Bennett paints an affectionate picture of a tired and bored monarch discovering, for the first time, the joy of reading.

As we join Her Majesty on her journey she finds something in the pages of literature that duty and cossetting have denied her in life. Her voyage through the classics becomes a voyage of self discovery.

This is a monarch to warm to: her disdain of "New Labourism's" and her put down's of a Blair-like Prime Minister will have most readers cheering.

Bennett's portrait of the queen may well be overly affectionate but his withering portrayals of the Palace and Whitehall mandarins dismayed that a book loving queen may be too "elitist" is, you fear, not to far off the mark.

A pleasant afternoon's reading The Uncommon Reader shows that, even in our 24 hour, soundbite culture, books provide an undiluted joy.

Unfortunately even as a novella the story feels somehow lightweight and rushed. I couldn't escape the feeling that I would have enjoyed this more as a Talking Heads monologue.

This is classic Bennett material. Sadly it comes up just short of being a classic Bennett read.

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