The Complete Mapp & Lucia
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The Complete Mapp & Lucia : Volume One

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With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Keith Carabine, University of Kent at Canterbury.


Lucia is one of the great comic characters in English literature. Outrageously pretentious, hypocritical and snobbish, Queen Lucia, `as by right divine' rules over the toy kingdom of `Riseholme' based on the Cotswold village of Broadway. Her long-suffering husband Pepino is `her prince-consort', the outrageously camp Georgie is her `gentleman-in-waiting', the village green is her `parliament', and her subjects, such as Daisy Quantock, are hapless would-be `Bolsheviks'. In Lucia in London, the prudish, manically ambitious Lucia launches herself into the louche world of London society. Her earnest determination to learn all about `modern movements' makes her the perfect comic vehicle for Benson's free-wheeling satire of salon society, and of the dominant fads and movements of the 1920s, including vegetarianism, yoga, palmistry, Freudianism, seances, Post-Impressionist art and Christian Science.


Meanwhile in Tilling, clearly modelled on Benson's home town of Rye, Miss Mapp consumed by `chronic rage and curiosity' sits at her window, armed with her light-opera glasses keeping baleful watch on her neighbours. `Anger and the gravest suspicions about everybody had kept her young and on the boil': and Benson transmutes her boiling into a series of small humiliations in his witty, malicious comedy.


In his insightful Introduction Keith Carabine shows that these books are excruciatingly funny because Benson, like Jane Austen, invites the reader to view the world through the self-deluded fabrications and day-dreams of Lucia and the self-deluded chronic anger and jaundiced suspicions of Elisabeth. Carabine also concentrates on the novels' disturbing, bitchy, `camp' humour whenever `that horrid thing which Freud calls sex' is raised.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 640 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 32mm | 394g
  • Herts, United Kingdom
  • English
  • UK ed.
  • 1840226730
  • 9781840226737
  • 35,227

Table of contents

Queen Lucia (1920) Miss Mapp (1922) Lucia in London (1927)
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Rating details

433 ratings
4.39 out of 5 stars
5 55% (236)
4 34% (146)
3 9% (41)
2 1% (4)
1 1% (6)

Our customer reviews

If there were a very exclusive Hall of Fame for English humour between the two World Wars, its most honoured members would be Nancy Mitford, P G Wodehouse, Stella Gibbons, Evelyn Waugh and E F 'Fred' Benson - and not necessarily in that order! Deluded middle-aged women follow one fad after another, the resident young blade and most eligible bachelor dyes his hair and embroiders beautifully, the vicar believes it is his duty to attend as many card-games and dinner parties as possible just to show that he is not only there for the boring poor and needy, and all the characters enjoy the fierce rivalry between Mapp and Lucia. Mapp is plump and gushing: her mind is a cross between a steel-trap and a sewer. Napoleon's strategies had nothing on hers. Truly an awful woman. Lucia is thin, pretentious, and plays at being noble-minded. She fools nobody, not even herself. Narcissus had a self-esteem problem compared with her bloated ego. Warfare is waged at afternoon teas, on the village High Street, in the church (while one notes the vicar's grammatical mistakes in his sermon with a sweet smile on her face, and the other affects an other-wordly, spiritual expression of piety as she plans how to humiliate her rival and get herself elected onto the local Council)... You get the picture? E F Benson's output was prolific but his deliciously waspish humorous novels (there are six in the Mapp and Lucia series) are his best. Others include: 'Paying Guests', 'Freaks of Mayfair', 'Secret Lives', and 'Mrs Ames'. If you enjoy Mapp and Lucia, I recommend 'Paying Guests'.show more
by Fiona Sweet Formiatti
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