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It might be thought that even such activities as have here been indicated would be enough to occupy anyone so busily that he would positively not have time for more, but such was far from being the case with Mrs Lucas. Just as the painter Rubens amused himself with being the ambassador to the Court of St. James--a sufficient career in itself for most busy men--so Mrs Lucas amused herself, in the intervals of her pursuit of Art for Art's sake, with being not only an ambassador but a monarch. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (21)
Oh, to be reading this for the first time again...
But it absolutely repays repeated visits, as well.E. F. Benson, the probably homosexual son of a Victorian Archbishop of Canterbury and a noted lesbian, has a marvelous eye for the inter-war social scene in Upper Middle-Class England.
This is the first book of the series, where we meet Lucia and her redoubtable aide-de-camp the utterly charming Georgie.The first chapter is probably the slowest in the whole series--it takes a while to introduce these improbably horrid people
And they are--for the most part--truly horrid.Benson's gift is in making it quite clear he loves these ghastly people, and by the end of the book so do we.What is worse (or better) is recognizing one's friends in the characters of the book.Even more shocking, this reader will at times recognize traits of his own(I won't share which character I think I am most like).Human nature is less changing than we like to think in these early years of the twenty-first century.
Benson lovingly skewers the foible of his own age and does so with a slice of society no larger than any portrayed by Jane Austen.His eye is as keenly observant as hers, but his humor much more developed.
A certain level of sophistication makes these books more enjoyable, but there is something for anyone who enjoys a good read.There is nothing in here that would make the even the most prudish blush, but they are definitely for an adult taste.
It is clear why there are societies devoted to both author E.F. Benson and his six delightful "Mapp and Lucia" novels.Benson became known for this beloved, satirical series which has dry British wit and lightness reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse (although Wodehouse is in a class by himself), but he was equally superb at ghost/supernatural stories. The fact that he excelled at two vastly different styles and genres is fascinating.
This first book, Queen Lucia, introduces the inimitable Emmeline Lucas (Lucia to her friends), social arbiter and queen of the quaint hamlet of Riseholme, who finds her throne in jeopardy with the arrival of Olga Braceley, an opera singer.No one is better at social satire (and satire of British class systems) than the British and yet these timeless characters and their quirky ambitions are recognizable to anyone.Husband Phillip (known as Peppino) puts out his own printing press.There is Lucia's foppish neighbor and best friend, Georgie Pillson, who keeps her current in gossip, joins her at the piano in classical duets and converses with her in smatterings of bad Italian and baby talk; neighbor Daisy Quantock who ruffles Lucia's fur by introducing a "Guru" to the community and igniting yoga fever; and other colorful characters.From the beginning, I was laughing out loud at humor that is dry, absurd and priceless.
This series was also brought brilliantly to life by a PBS TV series "Mapp and Lucia" in which Prunella Scales stars as Lucia and Geraldine McEwan as Lucia's rival (introduced in a later book), Miss Mapp, both women terrific.Like the books, the series had me laughing out loud.
The first and fourth books are the best, but highly recommend reading them all.Humor is a great tonic.
A must buy: Reader Geraldine McEwan IS Lucia
Since the other reviews here relate to the printed version of the E.F. Benson book, I thought I'd chime in with a review that is specific to this CD version read by Geraldine McEwan.
McEwan starred as Lucia in the delightful "Mapp and Lucia" series in the mid-1980s. It's out on DVD now and I highly recommend you snatch it up immediately before it goes out of print. It's one of the very best British comedies ever.
In the series, McEwan establishes what I consider to be the definitive version of Lucia. She is so delightful that as soon as I found out her readings of two of the Lucia books had also been recorded, I bought them -- although I had never purchased books on tape/CD before.
Suffice it so say, I was not disappointed. McEwan is a wonderful reader who brings out all the wit of the books, and I can't stress enough how marvelous it is to hear her once again using her "Lucia voice."
This has my highest recommendation.
I am now a Luciaphile!
And proud of it...
I began this series because of recommendations from those who enjoyed Wodehouse. Although It's much dryer in the humor department than Wodehouse, the series is lovely and possesses that crisp hard edged satire that only Brits seem to be able to master. His skewering is principally focused on a narcissist who, despite her braggart ways, you can't take your eyes off and wouldn't want to live without. I've read all six in short succession, and I do agree with most reviewers that the final three are his strongest. I am sorry that we are left with only the six novels, but at least we have those. Long live Lucia!
A nice read
Queen Lucia is the first in the series of novels that invite us in to Riseholm and the lives of it's residents.Lucia is the snobbish self appointed but undisputed Queen of everything cultural in this small rural english village.However she finds herself challenged unintentionally by Olga Bracely a famous opera singer who takes up residence in the village.As she fights for her throne the reader is witness to the malice, manipulation and backstabbing that is just under the surface in village life.As in all good stories Lucia is all but dethrowned and then regains the upper hand once again.The book is witty, full of interesting if somewhat strange characters and entertaining.After first reading Queen Lucia I felt a little disapointed having heard Bentley described as being on a par with Wilde, Wodehouse and Coward.I do not find this claimed level of wit and word smithing in Queen Lucia myself, however once I got past this disappointment I found myself both entertained by and fond of this novel.
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