It’s June, that glorious time when we drag out the beach chairs, towels, sunscreen and thousands of pounds of other miscellanea necessary for a trip to the shore. Luckily for you, June is also Novella Month, so feel free to leave your to-be-read tomes at home for July and take something a little lighter on your weekend getaway.
Flavorwire highlighted Shelf Unbound’s “10 Novellas Perfect for Literary Lounging” earlier this month, and we loved the idea so much that for the last few days of June, we’ll be showcasing a few novellas of our own. Today, we’re talking about Alan Bennett.
Author: Alan Bennett has been one of England’s leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe. The History Boys won six Tony Awards; his most recent play is The Habit of Art.
Length: This book is a pair of novellas, totaling 152 pages. The first story, The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson, is 91 pages long; the second, The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, runs 57 pages.
Summary: The novellas expose the disparity between the prim public and slightly shocking private lives of middle-aged British matrons.
First lines: From The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson: “’I gather you’re my wife,’ said the man in the waiting room. ‘I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure. Might one know your name?’”
From The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes: “Like many a handsome man, Graham Forbes had chosen to marry someone not nearly as good looking as himself and even slightly older. ‘Chucked himself away, if you ask me,’ his mother said. Which of course, he didn’t.”
A Twitter-length review: ”Kinky hijinks rattle teacups among the British bourgeoisie in the latest from Bennett.” —Kirkus
Title: The Uncommon Reader
Length: 120 pages
Summary: This quirky novella follows the development of the Queen of England’s love of reading. When this new passion changes her world view, how will the palace staff and the country at large be affected?
First lines: ”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.”
A Twitter-length review: ”…a delicious and very funny what-if…a delightful little book that unfolds into a witty meditation on the subversive pleasures of reading…” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times