When it comes to Mapp and Lucia – I came to the party fairly late. It is a series of books that I think people probably assume I have read because the era in which they were written is very much the era I most like to read. However the truth is I only began to read them last year. This is the third book, the second that features Mrs Emmeline (Lucia) Lucas, the social Queen of Riseholme. When I read the first book ‘Queen Lucia’ – I thought Lucia was an unlikeable character, wonderfully and satirically drawn and not too monstrous; however in this novel, Lucia and her ambitions really do become rather monstrous. In fact Lucia drove me absolutely round the bend. That doesn’t make the book unlikeable – I do rather love Georgie and Daisy after all, and Lucia is portrayed brilliantly – but goodness me she can be irritating.
Now coming up on my to be read pile, is a review copy for Au Reservoir by Guy Fraser Sampson who has written some books continuing the stories of Mapp and Lucia – Au Reservoir is the third – but I am assured it stands alone. As I am no expert at the world of Mapp and Lucia – I felt I needed to read another E F Benson before I tackle that one. I think that in Guy Fraser Sampson’s books Lucia has been transformed to Lucia Pillson – I wonder how that works?
Anyway back to Lucia in London. As this novel opens Lucia’s husband Philip aka Peppino has just learned of his Aunt’s death – and the Lucas’s have come into quite a nice legacy – which includes a house in Brompton Square. The whole of Riseholme is enchanted and fascinated by this exciting development – and relish the chance to speculate wildly over the details. When Lucia and Peppino decide to close up The Hurst – their three Elizabethan cottages made into one- and go to London for the season – Riseholme has plenty to say about that too.
“Georgie took a half-sheet of paper from the drawer in a writing table where he kept half-sheets and pieces of string untied from parcels, and began to calculate. There was necessarily a good deal of guesswork about it, and the pearls had to be omitted altogether, since nobody could say what ‘pearls’ were worth without knowing their quantity or quality. But even omitting these, and putting quite a low figure on the possible rent of the house near Harrod’s, he was astounded at the capital which these annual outgoings appeared to represent.
‘I don’t put it at a penny less than fifty thousand pounds,’ he said to himself ‘and the income at two thousand six hundred’ “
Coincidently Olga Bracely has returned from abroad and also taken a house in Brompton Square, it was Olga who had briefly threatened Lucia’s reign in Riseholme. Lucia is desperate to be a part of the crowd that surround Olga, one of whom is a Princess. Lucia’s antics really are hilariously awful; she even decides to take a fake lover after attending a scandalous divorce trial. Among the crowd that Lucia becomes so attached to is Adele – who quickly sees Lucia for what she is – and finds her so hugely entertaining that she takes great pleasure in watching Lucia closely and drawing some of the rest of her crowd into what she calls Luciaphilia.
“There was of course, another camp, consisting of those whom Lucia bombarded with pleasant invitations but who (at present) firmly refused them. They professed not to know her and not to take the slightest interest in her, which showed, as Adele said, a deplorable narrowness of mind. Types and striking characters like Lucia, who pursued undaunted and indefatigable their aim in life, were rare, and when they occurred should be studied with reverent affection”
As Lucia plots, plans and wheedles her way into the heart of London society Riseholme has to do without their satellite. Georgie Pillson and Daisy Quantock start playing with the Ouija board and planchette which appears to tell them to start a museum in Riseholme – they are elated to be busy again Georgie and Daisy are the best characters in this book – I could read about them all day. Their pathetic pride in the collection of rubbish in their museum is just hilarious.
Therefore when Lucia pays a flying visit to The Hurst with a weekend party of friends – which does not include Georgie or Daisy, Riseholme cuts her back. Poor Luicia has some making up to do, and when Peppino is taken ill with a severe cold – she has her chance to go home and start making amends, and try to take back her former position.
I really must read the rest of the Mapp and Lucia books, but now I know there are other writers who have written Mapp and Lucia books I worry for my already toppling tbr.