This is the paperback version of the Radio 4 Audio series, Ladies of Letters. I have not heard the radio programme,but got this book because I wanted something light and amusing. I started reading it last night and finished it two hours later. This book is actually the first and second volume of correspondence between the two fictitious women, Vera Small and Irene Spencer.
Their acquaintance begins at the wedding of Irene's daughter at which it turns out that Vera has gatecrashed, helping out her friend who is doing the catering. Their correspondence starts with thank you letters, but soon moves to a deeper intimacy and sporadic visits.
It's a wonderful relationship. At first you are lulled into a false sense of security by the gentle humour of their old ladylike ways and ideas. This soon becomes secondary to a hilariously vituperative and belligerent correspondence between them in which the vie over all aspects of their lives, large and small to do each other down.
It is witty and dark and funny, and I imagine, read by Prunella Scales and Patricia Routledge as on Radio 4, would be perfect in almost every way.
I thought the first volume of letters was far superior to the second, as this stretched the genre rather and got a little too far fetched. I much preferred it when their idiosyncracies were more muted, because they were so deliciously unexpected. Travels to trailer parks, drug busts and antipodean adventures in the second volume sometimes overshadow the sheer evil skill of the writing, which is a shame.