Queen Lucia - E.F. Benson, Wanda McCaddon

The ruler of Riseholme, happier than he of Russia, had no need to fear the finger of Bolshevism writing on the wall, for there was not in the whole of that vat which seethed so pleasantly with culture, one bubble of revolutionary ferment. Here there was neither poverty nor discontent nor muttered menace of any upheaval: Mrs Lucas, busy and serene, worked harder than any of her subjects, and exercised an autocratic control over a nominal democracy.

Late to the party, but I only recently discovered the 2014 Mapp & Lucia tv series with Miranda Richardson and Anna Chancellor – it was hilarious. I know there is an earlier version with Geraldine McEwan and Prunella Scales but that one never grabbed my interest.

Anyway, I am on a mission to read some of the original books that the series is based on and Queen Lucia is the first one of the set.

Now, if you look at the 2.5* rating you might think that I did not like the book, but that is not exactly true. I did like the book: the slow pace and very subtle humor, the caricature of a group of characters who are doomed to be outpaced by the world and yet cling to their own idea of it. It is a book full of delicate deliciousness.

But,…I could not help but compare it to P.G. Wodehouse – and Queen Lucia just lacks all bite when compared with any of the characters in the Jeeves and Wooster novels.

Maybe the comparison is not warranted or even unfair – as a book shouldn’t be compared with a contemporary for merit – but I was distracted by my wish to be reading Wodehouse instead.

The other thing is that Queen Lucia needs an equal counterpart like Miss Mapp, but Miss Mapp does not appear until later in the series.

So, while it was a light and enjoyable read to get to know the characters of Lucia and Georgie – and the world they inhabit – there was just something missing in this first book in the series.

I look forward to the next book in this series.



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