The Uncommon Reader
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15, 128 pp.
If you saw Stephen Frears’s The Queen (2006), you’ll have no trouble picturing the scene in Alan Bennett’s novella where the Duke of Edinburgh pops his head in to check on the “old girl” reading in bed, in her curlers, then walks down the corridor to his room, whistling as he goes. Ultimately Frears’s film made Americans feel cozy with the queen; the splendid actress Helen Mirren let us see her as a woman imprisoned for life—as an actress is not—in a single...
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