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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Queen Lucia emerges.
Mrs Emmeline Lucas, known in her community as Lucia, "reigns supreme over the affairs of Riseholme". Riseholme is a one main street village in rural England in the year 1920. The "affairs of Riseholme" involve leisured eccentrics who devote their energies and time to the favorite pastimes, hobbies, fads and fancies of the day. It is Lucia's role as leader to take...
Published on 29 Jun. 2002 by John Austin

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
tedious, hammy
Published 2 months ago by Mary


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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Queen Lucia emerges., 29 Jun. 2002
By 
John Austin "austinjr@bigpond.net.au" (Kangaroo Ground, Australia) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Mrs Emmeline Lucas, known in her community as Lucia, "reigns supreme over the affairs of Riseholme". Riseholme is a one main street village in rural England in the year 1920. The "affairs of Riseholme" involve leisured eccentrics who devote their energies and time to the favorite pastimes, hobbies, fads and fancies of the day. It is Lucia's role as leader to take responsibility for heightening an awareness and questing for greater cultural richness. Not that she admits to this, even to herself. "You all work me to death," she usually says, when a new opportunity for leading a crusade or instigating a new field of cultural endeavor presents itself.
Of course, Lucia's stance provokes great rivalry. Riseholmeites do not so much relate to each other as try to put each other down. Many are put down, and many fall down when they tread on those metaphorical banana skins that fate seems to spread before those who are absurdly over-ambitious
Using this material, E F Benson, begins an inter-related series of novels with this one in 1920. He devises an almost mock-heroic quality in the telling of his tale. Benson makes us aware that no great legendary conqueror gave as much thought and weight to the planning of a military conquest as do the Riseholmeites to the consideration of who to invite for afternoon tea.
The result is gentle satire and great fun from beginning to end. Not a day, not an hour, passes in Riseholme without plots being hatched, news being sought, and allegiances being formed.
I don't recommend that you present this book as a gift to you football-playing, beer-swilling, macho male friends and relations. It is for those who enjoy the word spinning of an Oscar Wilde, mixed with the sophistication of a Noel Coward.
English actress Geraldine McEwan, who played the role of Lucia in a TV mini-series based on this series of books, has recorded this and others in the series in audio book format. With her sharp, silvery voice and incisive delivery, she makes Lucia and the people of Roseholme unforgettable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story of English eccentricity and social snobbery, 10 Sept. 2010
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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Emmeline Lucas, known as Lucia to all her friends, rules the little English town of Riseholm with her (very few) words of Italian, her social and cultural snobbery, and her charming ability to always come up on top. But rebellion is in the wind and even Lucia's social lieutenant, Georgie, wonders whether the prime position always has to be Lucia's...

Full of the mosr marvellous characters, hysterical situations and sublime writing, this is like Waugh, Wodehouse and Mitford all rolled into one and set amongst the English small town middle classes. Benson never misses a nuance and yet makes his characters completely loveable at the same time as we laugh at them, sometimes with tears of horror.

This is the first of a six book series and they really do need to be read it order - utterly wonderful, this is one of my go-to books whenever I need a pick-up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm a convert and I look forward to reading the rest of E.F. Benson's Mapp & Lucia novels, 4 Mar. 2015
By 
This review is from: Queen Lucia (Paperback)
My introduction to the world of E.F. Benson's Mapp & Lucia novels was via the BBC TV adaptation broadcast in the UK in late December 2014. E.F. Benson's Mapp & Lucia novels were also recommended to me on GoodReads.

I am writing this review having just finished Queen Lucia, the first book in the Mapp and Lucia series. The novels, in chronological order, are:

Queen Lucia (1920)
Miss Mapp (1922)
Lucia in London (1927)
Mapp and Lucia (1931)
Lucia's Progress (1935) (published in the US as Trouble for Lucia (1939))

There are also five other books based on the same characters written by other authors.

In this first book in the series we are introduced to Mrs Emmeline Lucas, known by all as Lucia (due to her penchant for using Italian phrases), along with a host of other characters.

Whilst I am not convinced Queen Lucia should be taken at face value (it is a satire after all) it does give broad hints at the lifestyle of the idle rich in 1920's English society. For a book that was written almost a hundred years ago, it also feels remarkably fresh and readable.

One character, the gullible Mrs Daisy Quantock, is prone to embrace some of the era's health crazes and as such we get a short but interesting exposition of the tenets of Christian Science, and then an amusing dalliance with yoga - taught by her personal guru; and then onto another splendid infatuation with spiritualism via the services of a Russian medium known as Princess Popoffski.

The arrival of Mrs Quantock's Indian guru prompts Lucia to ensure she can utilise the guru's social currency in the competitive world of the village of Riseholme, a pretty Elizabethan village in Worcestershire, where Lucia vigorously guards her status as "Queen" despite occasional attempts from her subjects to overthrow her. Lucia’s dear friend Georgie Pillson (another fantastic character) both worships Lucia and occasionally works to subvert her power.

I did a little research to try to establish the pronunciation of Riseholme (apparently based on Broadway in the Cotwsolds) and understand it is pronounced "rizzum", which sounds credible.

E.F. Benson appears to simultaneously have affection for his Riseholme characters and hold them in mild contempt. None of the characters is especially likeable however their foibles and absurdities became more endearing as the book progresses, and their frequent humiliations become ever more amusing.

This comedy of manners captures the social order of 1920s England for those fortunate few who had the money to spend their time enjoying dinner parties and other social events, painting, writing letters, giving music recitals, parading their social status and exchanging gossip, whilst their servants facilitated their lives of ease and comfort. This premise, in the skilled hands of E.F. Benson, is the foundation of some beguiling comedic moments as he nails the snobbery and competitiveness of village life, and especially Lucia's ludicrous affectations.

I will admit that I was slightly bored during the first couple of introductory chapters, then my feelings changed to ambivalence, however by the final third I was enjoying every page. By the end of Queen Lucia I was thoroughly charmed and now appreciate how these books have inspired so much affection and devotion in their readers.

I'm a convert and I look forward to reading the rest of E.F. Benson's Mapp & Lucia novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Queen Lucia, 27 Mar. 2015
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Lucia (Kindle Edition)
Emmeline (Lucia) Lucas wants nothing more than to rule over her friends and neighbours in the pretty, Elizabethan village of Riseholme. This novel is the first in a series featuring ‘Queen Lucia’ and introduces us to the characters and settings where the books are set. Published in 1920, the story begins with Lucia returning from London and looking forward to her pursuit of ‘Art for Art’s Sake’. Riseholme is her own, personal fiefdom, where she reigns supreme with no poverty, discontent or upheaval. She is used to directing the life of her community; the culture and entertainment. However, change is in the air and her position is about to be threatened.

This is a clever novel about social snobbery and one-upmanship. Lucia’s neighbours include her second in command, Georgie Pillson, the fad obsessed Mrs Daisy Quantock (her interests even during this one, short novel, include Christian Science, yoga and spiritualism) and visiting opera singer, Olga Bracely. Of course, this novel satirises the idle rich and the author captures that perfectly – that time between breakfast and lunch when the inhabitants of Riseholme duck in and out of shops, spying on neighbours, and hugging titbits of gossip to carry on to others, is wonderfully told. However, although I did enjoy this, I did find the characters a little wearing and I doubt I will read on. It is, though, a good portrait of the wealthy between the wars, and of the lack of privacy in a small, village community.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A genteel curiosity, 17 Mar. 2009
By 
Jenny Michaels "Jenny Michaels" (North London, South England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Queen Lucia (Paperback)
If you love the Mapp and Lucia stories, even if you came to them from the television adaptations, then this early story about Lucia, long before she was mapped on Londonised, is a treat and an early lesson in pure ENglish snobbery. To enjoy and relish.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Gossiping Fun!, 30 May 2004
By 
Mr. S. D. Middleton "StevieM" (East London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Queen Lucia (Paperback)
I just love EF Benson's world created for his characters Mapp & Lucia. Tilling (& Riseholme of course) just make you want to laugh out loud (and I usually do!)
If you want an easy read but one that also tells you a lot about the human condition this is for you. Ideal for holiday reading and when you're feeling fed up. If this doesn't help you smile I'd be surprised if anything will!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wonderful Aubrey Woods, 12 April 2012
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This review is from: Queen Lucia (Audio Cassette)
I have at last managed to trace the wonderful man who read the Mapp and Lucia books in the 1980s on BBC radio 4. In my opinion
this version is vastly superior to any subsequent versions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light, frothy, sparkling entertainment, 26 Jan. 2011
By 
Katie Stevens "Ygraine" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Queen Lucia introduces the village of Riseholme, its inhabitants and, most importantly, Lucia Lucas who presides over Riseholme's social scene as benevolent dictator. In this first installment in the series, Lucia's unspoken sovreignty comes under threat from an Indian guru, a Russian medium and a celebrated opera singer and we see how she deals with these attempts, whether intentional or not, to go against the status quo.

The appeal of Queen Lucia is explained rather well by Olga Bracely: `Oh, it's all so delicious!' she said. `I never knew before how terribly interesting little thingswere. It's all wildly exciting, and there are fifty things going on just as exciting. Is it all of you who take such a tremendous interest in them that makes them so absorbing, or is it that they are absorbing in themselves and ordinary dull people, not Riseholmites, don't see how exciting they are? (pp. 258-259) It is a novel about little things that happen and are only made interesting by the way in which the entertaining cast of characters treat them.

Lucia reminded me of no one so much as Mrs Elton from Jane Austen's Emma: she is shallow, snobbish, pretentious and completely convinced of her own importance. In other words, she should be a rather unpleasant character but is absolutely delicious to read about as she lords it over her friends. The only facet of her character which I didn't particularly enjoy was her fondness for baby talk with the men in her life; self-importance and snobbery, while irritating traits in real life, can be made great fun to read about, but adults trying to sound like infants is something that I will always find annoying.

Riseholme's other inhabitants are equally as obsessed with social climbing, though in different ways. I enjoyed Daisy's futile attempts to usurp Lucia's prominence by launching the latest trend before Lucia can pick up on it and annex Daisy's latest discovery, something which always ends in disaster. Georgie's delight at having a secret from Lucia which gives him some sort of power over her is amusing and infectious as the reader spends more time with him than with Lucia. Although Benson's writing is sharp and biting, it was without any particular malice. I felt that, although he mocks these silly social situations he also loves them and thrives on them, and that he would be behaving exactly the same as the other villagers if he were to live in Riseholme and would love every minute of it. He certainly has great fun writing about them.

To continue the Jane Austen comparison, there were times when this book felt like it needed a Mr Knightley. It has the intrigue of people being manoeuvred into relationships, the fast-fading fashions for particular activities and the carefully considered, smiling social warfare between the characters, but I would have liked to see someone with sense and morality who wasn't taken in by all of this nonsense to provide some much needed contrast. While I know it's a light, humorous novel and I enjoyed it for what it is, it felt a bit relentlessly shallow and breezy at times and I would have preferred an occasional change of tone. Hermy and Ursy, Georgie's irrepressibly robust sisters, would have done this perfectly but they remained fairly marginal characters in this first book. I hope to see more of them in future volumes as I would love to see someone practical tell Riseholme to stop being so ridiculous. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable ridiculousness and I look forward to continuing the series.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Funny Delightful Opener Of What Promises To Be A Great Series, 27 Jun. 2010
As `Queen Lucia' opens we meet the title character, real name Mrs Emmeline Lucas, as she rejects the fly that her husband Peppino has sent for her and send it home with just her luggage in it in order to cause some gossip and wonderment through the village of Riseholme something as self proclaimed `Queen' of the area she feels it is only befitting to do. E. F. Benson instantly gets us acquainted with the type of woman we are dealing with just from this opener and as the book goes on we learn just how Lucia tries to say queen when others decide they might want to usurp her role.

Two such characters are the `globe like' Daisy Quantock and Lucia's very own right hand man Georgie Pillson who both have things Lucia wants and could use them in becoming the most popular people in town which would never do. Daisy Quantock has the mysterious Indian Guru staying with her which is the talk of the village (it reads as slightly un-pc by today's standards but written in the 1920's and set very much in that era, people did have such prejudices, mind you George Pillson toupee is just as much talk of the town) and Georgie also has the most desirable friendship of Olga Bracely much to Lucia's vexation. We watch on as the whole town bids to outdo one another and raise supreme, to most comical turns, whilst still looking like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.

I imagine that Lucia herself being such a strong character could make a reader either love her or loathe her. She is a caricature of a certain type of society in her day but on occasion the sudden turn of speaking Italian to anyone and everyone, whether they understand or not, or babyish discussions with `Naughty' Georgie could really grate I imagine as the first few times I read it I was rather unsure of it. However I was completely won over, in the main by the flamboyancy of the characters and just how funny E. F. Benson's writing is and the situations he puts these people into. Despite the fact some of it is quite ludicrous you could imagine in those days people getting up to just such japes at the vexation of others.

I am really pleased I finally gave this series a whirl as I have a feeling that it and of course its wonderful cast of characters is just going to get better and better, and possibly even barmier. I look forward to seeing what lengths they all go to next and what E F. Benson throws at them. It's actually a real shame that apart from the omnibus editions and the solo `Mapp and Lucia' these books aren't available individually in stores.
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4.0 out of 5 stars GENTLE AND AMUSING - but don't let these people near me!, 10 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Queen Lucia (Kindle Edition)
As others have said, this is not a thriller/fast moving adventure, The story is about subtle manipulations in interpersonal relationships as the characters play out their little power games in village life. [As someone who doesn't understand this in real life I was surprised just how much I 'got' it all. Think I'll read some more - as a 'life' manual.]
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Queen Lucia (Mapp and Lucia)
Queen Lucia (Mapp and Lucia) by E. F. Benson (Audio CD - 5 May 2011)
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