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Meet Mrs Emmeline Lucas
on 30 April 2017
Edward Frederic Benson started off his Mapp and Lucia series with this novel, which was first published in 1920. Here we meet Mrs Emmeline Lucas, known to her friends as Lucia, as she presides over the wealthy in the village of Riseholme.
With George ‘Georgie’ Pillson as Lucia’s second in command we see our main protagonist act like a general in charge of the field as she plots to stay at the top of the local society, with everyone else kowtowing to her. Always a pleasure to read this is packed full of comedy as we see the plotting and sniping that goes on in what to all appearances looks like a lovely little village.
There is the Guru who turns up, Lucia’s soirées and piano playing, one-upmanship, and even a psychic paying a visit. Always for Mrs Lucas there is the worry that someone else could trump her, and what with a new person moving into a cottage, an opera singer, could this add yet even more pressure to Lucia’s prestige?
As we see characters pretending to be au fait with a foreign language, music and other arts, we also see vanity and snobbery, as Benson pokes fun at the upper middle class in the main. We see his scathing wit pointed at the home owners, and not their servants, who have to put up with what is going on around them.
Riseholme is based on the real village of Broadway in Worcestershire, which is worth a visit if you are in the area. Although I could put down that such things that happen here are long in the past I know I would be lying, after all I have stopped many a time at a tea shop in small places, and you can at times overhear conversations that would not be out of place within this book.