Book review: Lucia in Trouble

Lucia in Trouble sees Mrs Lucas made Mayor of Tilling, surely the pinnacle of her social career. However, she discovers she must have a Mayoress and decides to appoint Mrs Mapp-Flint in an attempt to keep her under control.

Lucia in Trouble is the final book in the Mapp and Lucia series and as with the others, it is a comedy of manners. The two central characters continue to vie with one another for supremacy over Tilling. Unlike in Mapp and Lucia and Lucia’s Progress, Mrs Mapp-Flint has success and everything does not go Lucia’s way. Lucia is forced to work hard to keep her role as unofficial Queen of Tilling, with key supporters of her becoming disillusioned and believing what Mrs Mapp-Flint says. The battles remain just as ferocious between the two and the book is a fine ending to an excellent series. This book follows on immediately from Lucia’s Progress, so I would strongly recommend reading that before this.

Rating (out of 5):****

Book review: Lucia’s Progress

Lucia’s Progress sees Mrs Lucas continue with her adventures in Tilling. Miss Mapp (now Mrs Mapp-Flint) is still there and remains her rival for control of Tilling, but Lucia’s increasing wealth through success on the stock market allows her to bestow gifts upon Tilling and gain offers to various committees.

As with all the other books in the series, this is a comedy of manners, with the two protagonists being charming and polite to one another in person (generally), whilst plotting to ensure they stay ahead of their rival. Benson’s sympathies appear to lie with Lucia, who thwarts Mapp at every turn and increases her power by drawing the residents of Tilling to her at the expense of Mapp, who tries her best to keep pace but is unable to.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: Mapp and Lucia

Mapp and Lucia begins with the news that Mrs Lucas is in mourning for the death of Mr Lucas and has withdrawn from society in Riseholme. In her place, Daisy has taken over and will have the lead role of Queen Elizabeth in the summer fete. Lucia decides her only option is to be away at that time and rents Miss Mapp’s house in Tilling. Inevitably, the two formidable women clash in the confines of Tilling.

Mapp and Lucia is a gentle comedy, with the two women plotting how they can best snub one another whilst appearing to remain incredibly polite. Much like the Cold War, the two protagonists and the super powers, with everyone else relegated to the role of pawns as open warfare is just about avoided. Lucia seems to get the better of the exchanges, but the novel finishes with Miss Mapp landing a blow of her own. The effort that they go to in their constant game of one-upmanship means that there is not a dull moment.

Rating (out of 5): *****

Book review: Lucia in London

Lucia in London sees Mrs Lucas gain a house in London as a result of an inheritance. She soon sets about climbing up the social scene in London, but to the detriment of her hold over Riseholme.

Lucia in London is a gentle comedy, as Lucia shamelessly gets involved in London social life, whilst the residents of Riseholme ignore her upon her return. Lucia is generally successful in London, but struggles when Riseholme rejects her. However, when Lucia returns, she is able to quickly re-establish her hold over Riseholme, to the disappointment of her rival, Daisy.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book Review: Miss Mapp

Miss Mapp tracks events in the village of Tilling, where Miss Mapp is undoubtedly in charge. Apart from possibly Diva Plaistow, who always seems to be discovering new things to the interest of the rest of the village. Miss Mapp is determined that Tilling will remain her village though.

This is a very gentle comedy, with Miss Mapp trying to ensure that she remains as the focal point of the village. However, her plans do not always go to plan and chaos and embarrassment ensue. Miss Mapp is devious in the way that she tries to take credit for fads introduced by Diva and make herself the centre of the averted duel between the Captain and the Major. The duel (or lack of and resulting fallout) was my favourite part of the novel, allowing Tilling to become a real place as opposed to a setting for a character.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: Queen Lucia

Queen Lucia tracks the events in Riseholme, where Mrs Lucas is seen as the ruler of the village. However, Mrs Quantock appears to be a rival as a result of trends she gets into, but Mrs Lucas (Lucia) is strong enough to dominate over her. A bigger threat is Olga Bracely (an accomplished opera singer and Italian speaker), who seems to cause accidental embarrassment to Lucia at every turn and takes Lucia’s best friend/lackey, Georgie.

The novel is set in 1920s Britain and is a very gentle comedy. It reminded me in many ways of a P G Wodehouse novel, with a rural setting and embarrassing events, mixed with some kind of romance. The characters are less wealthy than might be found in a Wodehouse novel, but are still privileged people. The story is straight forward, reflecting that there is little secrecy in a small village. An enjoyable, relaxing read.

Rating (out of 5): ****