# E.F. Benson # Mapp and Lucia book club

Mapp & Lucia Book Club | Part 1 | Queen Lucia by E.F. Benson

I'm excited to be starting our Mapp & Lucia Book Club today, starting with the first book in the series by E.F. Benson: Queen Lucia. In today's video, I'm sharing my observations about the book with you.

Queen Lucia is a comedy of manners that follows Mrs. Emmeline Lucas, aka Lucia, as the social queen of Riseholme, England. Other key characters in the book are:

Georgie Pillson: Lucia's foppish best friend

Mr. Lucas (Peppino:) Lucia's very patient husband

Daisy Quantock: Georgie Pillson's neighbor who would love to overthrow Lucia's title of Queen of Riseholm

Olga Bracely: the operatic diva who moves to Riseholme and gives Lucia a run for her money

Here are some fun observations, in list form, that I discuss in today's video:

Lucia reminds me very much of Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances.
They both love the arts, think very highly of themselves and are self-professed Queens of their small communities.

Even when suffering, the residents are thinking about how they look. Georgie is secretly pleased he had the biggest loss with his Louis XVI snuff box!

As soon as it is discovered that the Guru is an impostor and a thief, Daisy proclaims him to be "Lucia's guru".

The residents of Riseholme were had by both the guru and the Princess Popoffski. When you are so concerned about trends and what others think about you, you are more likely to be taken advantage of: think The Emperor's New Clothes.

After each betrayal from the guru and Princess Popoffski are discovered, Lucia and co. carry on for a while to keep up appearances (the guru's practices and the Princess' fortune telling) even though they have completely lost interest in the activities.

When you live in a town where people really care what others think of them, those people are more likely to be taken advantage of. Los Angeles is a place where people really care what others think of them. It is also a place where people pay a lot of money for some pretty crazy practices. You see this in all sorts of services and beauty treatments, etc. You can't get away with that in other parts of the country.

Moral of the story? Never do things for "show" or to keep up appearances. The Madame Chic philosophy is to do things from a true inward passion, not because it is popular or trendy.

I am featured in the upcoming anthology, A Paris All Your Own: Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light, out July 4th from G.P. Putnam's Sons.

I'll be doing a book signing and speaking event on Saturday, July 15th at Chevalier's in Los Angeles.

On Instagram
Madame Chic and a beautiful breakfast in Poland...

A post shared by Ivoshka (@ivo_shka) on

Comment of the Week
Last week's discussion on television for children received a very impassioned response. I will have to do a part 2! Every comment was thought-provoking and full of great advice. Here is an excerpt from what Lillian had to say:

I noticed when I was a nanny and babysitter in high school and college that cartoons always seemed to be about romantic relationships more than about friendships between boys and girls. Young girls don't need to be focused on that kind of relationship or themes of jealousy and fighting over a boy. Instead, we need to teach children (and demonstrate this ourselves) how to have good friendships with everyone.

Lillian, I totally agree. Disney movies, in particular, focus on romantic relationships in a major way. It would be refreshing to see them focused more on themes of friendship.

Today, I would love to read your comments on what you observed from Queen Lucia. List your observations below and you could be featured in an upcoming Mapp and Lucia book club video! #MappandLuciaBookClub

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Viola said...

Dear Jennifer - I am delighted to find a fellow Luciaphile. This E.F. Benson series ranks in my top 10 reads of all time. The thing that some readers complain about (that the pace of the novels is too slow) is one of the things I love about them. When my life gets too chaotic, I turn to Lucia and the worlds of Risholme and Tilling and I can feel myself relaxing into a simpler time - no digital distractions, no endless to-do lists, no 24 hour news cycle thrusting the latest crisis in my face. Benson's satire is masterful but not malicious, and even the minor characters are vividly drawn. Give me Lucia and a good cup of tea and I am happy. I look forward to future installments of the Mapp & Lucia Book Club.

Best regards,
Viola Schneider

ednagrace said...

Hi Jennifer!

I have to say that this is my first experience with a book club, and I am so thankful for it. It was just the thing I needed to get me back on track to #seekoutthearts. And to know that Georgie Pillson is your favorite character...he's mine too! One of my favorite parts in the book is when he thinks his sisters are burglars and he sneaks in on them with his toupee hanging off his head and his fire poker pointed at them like a gun, and they just laugh. I really like his sisters, too. They're the exact opposite of Riseholmites, loud and gruff, and they don't seem to care much about appearances. It's fitting that they're the ones who tell Georgie that the Guru is a fake--that in reality he's a cook in an Indian restaurant. And they laugh about that too!

I'm looking forward to the next book club video; I'm really enjoying it.


Edna Grace C.

Jenni said...

I'm so glad you mentioned the part where Lucia is found out about her Italian--that was my favorite part and the most funniest part in the book. I also agree that the Bensen was really making fun of how easily people can be drawn in by cults/charlatans, but not encouraging cultish practices. I'm interested to hear your take on Miss Mapp and why you like it better. I think, of the two, I like Queen Lucia better. While both she and Mapp like to one-up other people, it seems like Lucia is not as harsh or vengeful as Mapp. She is somewhat sympathetic, while I have a hard time sympathizing with Mapp, especially when she's being petty.

I'm really enjoying reading these and your videos as well!

Unknown said...

It is very interesting to me to hear from you that Benson features the occult in the stories. I understand from study of the period that, after World War I, fascination with such matters took off because for the first time in the history of warfare, war became quite anonymous and in many cases the bodies could not be recovered. This created a special tragedy for the families because they could not bury their loved ones. Of course, it is not that such incidents didn't ever happen prior to WWI, but the point is the scale. As a result, a market for the occult developed. You can see the same in one of the episodes of Miss Fischer's Murder Mysteries where a seance is held. Kerry Greenwood (author of the Miss Fischer mysteries) was born in 1954 and obviously not writing in the period of the 1920s and 30s, but she set her stories in the post-WWI period of E F Benson.

Katrin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katrin said...

There are four things that I love about this book club:
First of all, the books themselves. As Viola Schneider said, I love the slow pace and how the characters and stories unfold.
Secondly, your videos really provide food for thought, for example the connection to our modern celebrity culture.
Thirdly, your readers' comments are so interesting that I want to enter a discussion with each one of them.
Last but not least, through the books, the videos, and the comments, I really slow down. After that I always feel relaxed and energised at the same time. So thank you for that, especiall now that I know that it is a "frenzy" for you.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hello ladies, Thank you so much for your comments and input on Queen Lucia! Miss Mapp will be discussed on Monday (nail polish review on Thursday). I look forward to continuing the discussion with you!

Rachele said...

I think what I enjoyed the most was the contrast between Olga and Lucia. Olga had such effortless chicness because she was just herself. I liked how Bensen captured how much effort people put in to appear to be effortless and original. Like the "messy" hair bun that takes an hour to arrange...

I also found that it interesting, given the time in history when this book was written, that Lucia's best friend was a guy, that the book became focused on Georgie, and he became the leading man, so to speak. The married ladies were all vying for his attention, but in a wholly unromantic way. This is in contrast to the normal plot where the women are after a husband (ala Jane Austin, etc)

I pictured Georgie and Lucia like a more innocent Karen and Jack from Will and Grace.

I really enjoyed this book.

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Copeland's Coffee Break said...

I was definitely struck by the egotistical attitudes of the Riseholmites. Their identity was found solely in their knowledge and experience of culture, the arts and new ideas. I think this is why they could be so easily deceived. Their fear of losing face even took them to so far to not consider others who might also be taken advantage of by as they were. I do find humor in the irony that Olga Bracely is the true artist among them, and is the only one who does not make that her sole identity. She also is the only one who openly considers the feelings of others. I was saddened that Lucia and Peppino never learned from their humiliations. Overall, the book was a great reminder of the selfishness of human nature, and that fulfillment comes from friendship and thinking of others (as Georgie experienced when he reached out to Lucia as Olga asked him).

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Unknown said...

Dear Jennifer, I like many others are having my first experience with a book club. And I am happy to say that I have luckily found you and the Mapp and Lucia series to begin. What fun. I don't remember when I have enjoyed the antics of such mean spirited characters so much. I do believe that Lucia is the meanest of them both. She has cleverness, whereas Mapp is not quite so clever in my estimation. And as Lucia puts it over on her so often, it is drawing some sympathy from this reader. I realize that we are not there yet, just to say that Lucia should have been a little more caring of Pepino while he was so ill. Love Georgie though.

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