Mapp and Lucia – E.F. Benson

MALIt’s a classic and many in our group liked it. I thought it was old-fashioned, though quaint and I wouldn’t have read it had the group not chosen it.

Hensher’s introduction talks of the English delight in humiliation, Benson’s characters have hardly one generous action, just revenge. They live unfulfilled, bourgeois lives, full of selfishness, every one is in a hurry.

In the war between Mapp and Lucia, Lucia wins every battle but is a snob, an egotist, a bully, a show off, a widow rather than a spinster and has ‘no interest in sex as you need somebody else.’ ‘This horrid thing which Freud calls sex – tranquillity comes with years when it is expunged. She prefers a jolly little game of bridge.

The surrounding cast is of one-note grotesques who speak intense language. Lucia is always Queen in the annual tableaux and has to tell George she won’t marry him. She finds thinking and weeding as hungry and dirty work.

George Riseholme will be ditchwater without Lucia who got ‘thoughtfuller and thoughtfuller’. When Lucia goes missing, he thinks he has inherited but
has to pay servants’ wages as he is unable to draw on the bank account. He is accused of having ‘a trumpery little car’ considering his money.

Diva talks of someone having every accomplishment, reading Homer in Pope’s translation.

Irene paints nudes and asks how about the front door opening sideways to let down like a portcullis?

Elizabeth sweeps away with logic asking if you want tea or cold mutton.

Christmas cards are bought on the eve and arrive on the day, you can see the prices and bills arrive in the post too.

Strange vocabulary: Menseful = Manliness; dignity; comeliness; civility

Major Bengy had faced tigers in India but couldn’t face his benefactress.

The group have discussed reading more books in this series but, mercifully, they have forgotten about the idea.

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