Any ANY addition to the Lucia cannon is always welcomed by E F Benson fans - any failure to emulate that perfection is always going to be a harsh disappointment - any attempt to Americanize the world of Mapp and Lucia is always going to jar - no doubt the author is a great fan with a huge respect for Mr Benson, and all credit to him for having a go - but it just lacked ZEST - FIZZ and VENOM - the true Mapp and Lucia romp through life hissing and spitting in a most genteel way - the essence is that the E F Benson books are comedies of manners - not just harping on about bad behaviour - they are essentially English in the way feelings are hidden and emotions simmer - this simmers not.If you've never read the originals this will not tempt you - if you have read the originals this will only disappoint. No doubt the author loves writing and good luck - but I'd say ' you have your own voice - let it work for you'.
Truly abysmal. The characters were a mere pastiche of the originals. The book was littered with mistakes that any Benson fan would pounce upon in a moment. Lucia is OLDER than Mapp not younger. There was no sense of atmosphere at all. If the writer has ever been to Rye, it must have been a short trip.
Mr Shelsky, may convince himself that he writes like E F Benson but no-one who has ever read the Lucia books is likely to agree with him. There is so much wrong with this book that it is difficult to know where to start. I have read Tom Holt's efforts ("Lucia Triumphant" 1986) to continue the Lucia Stories and he does this very convincingly and they are a joy to read. So it can be done. Mr Shelky's efforts however are not only pitifully inadequate, but worst of all, the characters are a feeble mockery of the originals, using inappropriate or simply wrong dialogue. Think "The Simpsons do Mapp and Lucia" and you won't be far wrong: comic imitation, hyperbole and caricature.
The ratio of description to dialogue is unbalanced: sentences too long, over-descriptive, with pretentious and unnecessary words such as "countenance" for "face." The characters are hardly recognisable at all. The Major "hollers" across the table, and calls Georgie by his Christian name instead of "Pilson" or "Old Man." His sole action, apart from slapping him on the back, is to become drunk and knock things over as the climax of the whole book, whose story line is so weak as to as to be non-existent. In fact the whole thing in a genuine E. F. Benson, had the author ever gone down such an ill-chosen route, book would have taken up less than half a chapter.
Worse than the poor characterisation, and the omissions, the feeble plot and the weak and inappropriate style, is the constant stream of Americanisms. This is unforgivable. Who in middle class 1930s Sussex would have used word such as 'prideful,' 'headpiece' (for hairpiece), cowlick, or said, "My larder is drawn down?" Or used juggernauting, chime (for dinner gong), 'healthful,' 'roastED potatoes' or a phrase like 'thread to the touch?' When was the Padre ever addressed as "Minister?" - he's not a politician - and when would he ever have made such a faux-pas as to address Miss Mapp as "Lassie?" Inexplicably, Foljamb inexplicably answers, "Aye, Sir," as though she were a country milkmaid or a refugee from Yorkshire. Shades of Benny Hill? It is all too reminiscent of a schoolboy learning to recognise style and imitate: mildly amusing at first, then very irritating.
To Mr Shelsky's credit he is obviously a fan of the Lucia Stories and I am sure he intended genuinely to write an amusing corollary to the Lucia stories, but he should stick to reading them more until he masters the elements he seeks to extend and is able to produce a more convincing effort than this.