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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 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.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 27 March 2015
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 May 2014
I don't really understand why it took me so long to get around to reading this. All the reviews that I have read of this book, and indeed the whole sequence of stories, have been very positive, and it more than lived up to those plaudits.

Set in the fictional town of Riseholme, the stories seem reminiscent of P. G. Wodehouse's Blandings novels, but without the prize-winning pigs, and with a delicious undercurrent of malice thrown in.

Mrs Lucas, "Lucia", is self-appointed cultural and social queen of Riseholme, taking the lead in all major events that happen in the town. Her principal acolyte is George "Georgie" Pilling, until his affections are stolen by Olga Bracely, a successful opera singer who moves into Riseholme with her husband. Menawhile the immensely gullible Daisy Quantock stumbles from one fad to the next, to the delight of Lucia

The rivalries are beautifully constructed and immensely funny, and the snobberies are laid bare with great applomb. Very entertaining.
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on 30 November 2015
I love E F Benson's stories of one-upmanship, and these Hachette productions are great, with Miriam Margolyes providing the narrative and giving convincing voices to all the characters. Recommended, especially if you are facing a lengthy car journey and there's nothing on the radio
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on 17 September 2015
A picture of a small community in a time where who said what or did what mattered very much and being the leader of the pack was all. The writer creates the atmosphere of the period very well and the machinations of one up-manship are excellently portrayed. If you like this period then you will have a few chuckles over the characters and their determination to be number one.
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on 22 August 2017
Wonderful, how can such an entertaining story be woven using such a small circle of people? I have to be honest though I was finding it just a little tedious towards the end so it has to be four stars
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on 10 October 2014
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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on 6 August 2017
Love love love this book. Bought all the series.
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on 23 July 2015
A great read I do love Benson, so witty and observed well even if we don't conform to the same etiquette these days personalities are the same.
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on 15 June 2016
This and the rest of the Mapp and Lucia series have given me so much enjoyment - I've re-read all the books and particularly love the tv series with Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales and Nigel Hawthorn. I can't imagine any better casting for them and all the other great characters.in "Tilling."
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