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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 December 2014
E F Benson's series of books featuring the minutiae of day to day life in the fictional village of Tilling remains as entertaining now as it was when first written in the 1920's and 30's. The comedy is delicious; the pretensions and aspirations of the central characters are laid bare for our amusement and delight. The affectations, mannerisms and way of life of a particular class are captured to absolute perfection, the narrative is tight and social intercourse is wonderfully observed. The characters are so filled with their own importance and place and they interlock with panache. It's a wonderful portrayal of a particular inter war period which will never be seen again. The class distinction and daily one upmanship is priceless and there's barely a line without a laugh.

This volume is amazing value, with all books in full for only 77p. It comprises the following volumes, and it's easy to move between chapters or books if you wish:

Queen Lucia, Miss Mapp, The Male Impersonator, Lucia in London, Mapp and Lucia, Lucia's Progress and Trouble for Lucia

The TV adaptation in the 1980s really brought the characters to life and will be difficult to better. It'll be interesting to see how well the new TV series measures up. But for social satire, there are few authors who capture a period and the values as well as Benson and after many years, this remains one of my favourite series of all time.
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on 14 August 2012
I have been wanting to replace my set of Lucia books for years, ever since I loaned them and never saw them again. But with a series of books this deliciously naughty I guess I'm not surprised.

If you haven't tried them and love high camp, bitchy, snobby, hysterically funny, British froth from the 20's and 30's you'll be in heaven. And to get all six books for 77p is beyond a deal!

Be warned though, the supplied type size is unimaginably tiny - so you'll need to dust off your Kindle instructions to make it readable. But for this money that's a small price to pay.

They don't write 'em like this any more.
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This edition of the Mapp and Lucia books has an active table of contents, and as well as giving us the six complete novels in order, we also have here a short story as well. I should point out that the original texts have been scanned here, and on occasion some words do appear as a mix of letters and symbols, one being manoeuvre, but you can quite easily decipher what the words are. This only happens on occasions, and in the whole this is perfectly okay to read.

The first book here, Queen Lucia, shows us Mrs Lucas, otherwise known as Lucia, in her home in the village of Riseholme, where she reigns at the head as the leader of all that is cultural in the arts. In the second book, Miss Mapp, we meet Miss Mapp, who tries to reign at the top of the social sphere in the small town of Tilling. The third book, Lucia in London takes us on the rise of Lucia in the social circles of London. From there the next three books take us through what happens in Tilling, where Lucia decides to set up home after the death of her husband. At the end we have the short story, The Male Impersonator, which chronologically should really appear with the book Miss Mapp.

So why does this series of books remain so popular? Actually that is quite easy to answer for someone coming to these for the first time; imagine a long running sit-com presented in book form, and you literally have what this series of books are. Indeed you can even name characters in sit-coms over the years that correspond in one part or another to characters in this book. Also quite daringly for the time these were first published, there are even a couple of gay characters. You have Georgie, vain of his looks, dying his hair and having a comb-over, thus moving on to owning a toupee, whilst sitting quietly doing his embroidery. And you have Irene, the rather manly artist, who takes rather a liking to Lucia.

All the characters are well drawn, the environments they inhabit and the description of homes and places are also well done, and each book is chock full of comic incident. With social climbing, one-upmanship, snobbery, and misunderstandings you also have fake gurus and mediums. In all if you do decide to download this you will have six novels and one short story that will give you endless comic entertainment.
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on 24 June 2015
Having watched the latest BBC dramatisation over the Christmas period, I just knew I had to read the books. What a delightful portrait of the social "niceties!" I think I would find both Lucia and Elizabeth completely unbearable in real life, but to "watch" their catty scheming was pricelessly entertaining; no incident was passed up, where points may be scored against the other. The first book deals with Lucia, the "Queen of Riseholme", we are then treated to Mapp's similar pre-eminence in Tilling. The third book beautifully details Lucia's social climbing up in Town. The fourth book is where the real fun begins when Lucia decides to spend the summer in Tilling and the battle begins between the two inestimable ladies. The characters were beautifully drawn, although I could easily have confused Diva Plaistow for Daisy Quantock (but maybe that was because the BBC mingled their roles!) I loved the storyline for Major Benjy against Captain Puffin and "the duel!" That was a wonderful comic storyline.
I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys the comedy of manners, and I felt that E.F. Benson was a good match for Jane Austin in describing with humour the politics of small town life and painting a sparkling fantasy of times gone by. I shall never be able to listen to the Moonlight Sonata without striking a suitable pose!
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on 1 February 2015
I was introduced to Elizabeth Mapp and Emmaline Lucas on TV. I so enjoyed it that I purchased the 'Complete Mapp and Lucia.'

What a treat! The machinations of these two characters trying to thwart each other with their one upmanship, snobbery and hilarious rivalry in their day to day lives, was highly entertaining. Alongside these two were their various 'friends' each with their own marvellous characters, all fawning and sniping at each other alternatively.

Set in the inter war years, it begins with Mapp and Lucia residing separately in their fictional villages of Tilling and Risholme, queening it over all their friends until they eventually meet up when Lucia comes to reside in Tilling.

None of the characters are particularly likeable but each have a part to play and interact well with each other. Gossip abounds!
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on 19 January 2014
I've never seen the TV series, and now I'm glad I haven't, though I will buy the DVD when I've read all the books. So far, I've read 'Queen Lucia' and the first few chapters of 'Miss Mapp'. The author has two 'heroines' of his stories that are neither wholly likeable nor wholly dislikeable. The reader is constantly changing their minds about the characters, as they, and thus the reader, skip from incident to incident. The characters are strangely modern considering the times in which they live, I have known people with just their characteristics even if in a weaker form. the characters inhabit a middle-class world that has now disappeared, where to be 40 is middle-aged, and where people live off the returns from their investments in quite some comfort; no one seems to have paid work, and household servants seem common even in small households. The humour in this book is sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, and always thoroughly enjoyable.
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on 9 April 2013
I've only just bought the Kindle version as my old omnibus is not only falling apart, it is too heavy to hold comfortably. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the price for all 6, yay! I loved the Lucia books from the first, although I found her the most 'tarsome' woman - and Mapp is absolutely impossible - but Lucia vs Mapp? Comedy heaven. I've read the books again and again (as I say, original is falling apart) and now skip whole sections where they are being too tarsome for a re-visit, because the books are total and complete escapism.

Funny, and dry, and hilarious characters and domestic situations brought to high comedy. As I said I haven't started reading my new purchase yet so I'm slightly worried to see two reviews with warnings - tiny print size (don't let me down, now, Kindle) and oddities when French (French? surely Italian?) comes up. 77p, I can't see it being an insurmountable problem.

I'm not sure they are everyone's cup of tea but I do know when I've met Lucia fans, they are full-blown fanatics. If you're reading these reviews to decide whether or not to buy, and if this set was £10 or more, I'd say try one from the library first, but at this price, risk it. Let the charm steal over you. It's slow, and subtle, but very powerful.

(Quick update added later - the print size is absolutely fine and there are no oddities in the Italian. The French only comes up with Mapp and I haven't got that far yet, but I don't expect problems)

(Another quick update - yes,there are glitches with the French. And whoever was proofreading the ebook scan got careless so there are later oddities. At £7.70, I would have complained. At 77p, take it in your stride.)
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on 18 April 2013
There is the occasional problem with formatting for Kindle when the text includes an accented French word, but it is possible to understand and read on without difficulty, it's just a bit tedious. The value for money is fantastic

The books in this multi-novel Kindle edition are all full-length, with a couple of short-stories. They are beautifully written, and will appeal to those who enjoy this sort of sharp observational comedy, set in the twenties and thirties. I loved the sardonic and delicate portrayals of "the idle rich" and their striving for position. They are socially a couple of rungs below Wodehouse's characters, and older, more the ages of Bertie Wooster's aunts. Some details continue to puzzle me, e.g. why Lucia doesn't simply learn Italian, which would probably have been a lot less trouble than pretending to know it. I enjoy the details of life in that era, mentioned mostly in passing. There are also the occasional wonderful appearances of Olga, the famous opera singer, with her lack of pretension and genuine style and charm, and the antics of the successful modern artist, Irene. The characters do develop and mature a little, but not enough to spoil their entertainment value, fortunately. It is fun to speculate on what will happen when the second world war comes. I can imagine Georgie and Mr Wyse in the Home Guard, and the ladies jockeying for position in the Red Cross and WRVS. That's the strength of the books, really, however ridiculous the characters seem to us now, they also seem living beings, portrayed during that strange era between the two world wars.
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on 2 March 2015
This book is a fictional insight into English village life set in the 1930's. The middle class people occupying the village have a good sense of their own self importance and are utterly dependent on the staff who run their homes. It is a quirky set of stories but I am fond of the characters as they try to make sense of a changing world before the second world war. It is witty and amusing and although a light read there is an underpinning discussion about snobbery, changing society and the expectations of people caught up in the zealous exploration of new ideas because they feel they should zealously explore !
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on 19 January 2015
Benson aficionados will already know what they are getting so need no review. Those who don't know these books will either love them or hate them because they hit a very particular part of the funny bone. The eccentric characters trigger sympathy, ridicule and even downright dislike at times, living their rarified lives in their idyllic setting. It is a book of its time so one must be prepared for the now, non-P.C., language of the period. The latest television realization does not, in my view, capture the essence of the characters. The earlier version with Prunella Scales, Geraldine McEwan and Nigel Hawthorn came much closer.
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