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by E. F. Benson
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From Kirkus Reviews
There is some irony in the fact that Benson, the creator of everything from plays to sober biographies, is best remembered for his series of ``Lucia'' novels, delicious satires of the pretensions and foibles of provincial middle-class life in Britain in the 1920s and '30s. Still, given Benson's droll send-ups of the bitter battles waged by matrons desperate to live out their fantastical versions of upper-class elegance and wit, and his shrewd readings of the ways in which our longings can make us both bizarre and sometimes appealing, it's very likely an irony he would have savored. His six novels chronicling the rise and fall and rise ad infinitum of Mrs. Emmeline Lucas of Riseholm are now being reissued as trade paperbacks. Queen Lucia, the first in the series, follows Mrs. Lucas (Lucia to her most intimate friends) through a lengthy and often hilarious campaign to derail the career of a would-be rival to the throne of cultural arbiter. The plot, however, is less important than the pratfalls. The six Lucia novels form a kind of epic portrait of striving gone mod, and it's good to have them appearing once again. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
The energetic, pretentious and often malicious Lucia's reign over Riseholme's gentry is challenged by Olga, the dazzling diva. A fraudulent guru and the exposure of her faulty Italian never quite puncture Lucia's inflated ego. Almost a laugh per page! Four 90-minute cassettes and two 60's.
It might be thought that even such activities as have here been indicated would be enough to occupy anyone so busily that he would positively not have time for more, but such was far from being the case with Mrs Lucas. Just as the painter Rubens amused himself with being the ambassador to the Court of St. James--a sufficient career in itself for most busy men--so Mrs Lucas amused herself, in the intervals of her pursuit of Art for Art's sake, with being not only an ambassador but a monarch.
About the Author
E. F. (Edward Frederic) Benson (1867-1940) was a prolific novelist, dramatist, short story writer, biographer and eccentric son of the Archbishop of Canterbury. His first novel, Dodo - written in 1893, after he returned from five years spent working as an archaeologist in Greece and Egypt - was a literary sensation. Thus established, he wrote biographies of Sir Francis Drake, Alcibiades, Ferdinand Magellan, Queen Victoria, and Charlotte Bronte, and a curious instructional manual on figure skating. His devoted following has been building over seventy years due to the popularity of the exquisite "Mapp and Lucia" stories contained in six novels and two short stories.
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