Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Does Anyone Have a Mapp?

I'm afraid I've lost my way and would appreciate some helpful direction, advice or at the very least a comforting bit of empathy.

This lovely Vintage edition came to me by way of a draw held by one of my favourite bloggers, Rochester Reader.  It was supposed to fill a gap in my reading, enable me to laugh at references regarding the wonderful world of Benson and build on my vocabulary with words like 'tarsome'.

The ingredients are all favourites.  The era, the humour, quaint cottages, the eccentricities, they all tick boxes and goodness knows I'm not averse to a bit of silliness.  But despite a giggle every now and then by page 96 I was searching reviews for insight, for someone with assurance that despite a slow start they were soon riveted.  The boundary of allure seems to stop at my doorstep.

The busy antics of Lucia, Daisy and Georgie seem to be relentless and once Mapp was thrown in I desperately wanted everyone to sit down to a civilized cup of tea and just be quiet for a moment.  It was all becoming 'tarsome' but I must say that I have been drooling for figs.  Imagine a fig tree in your back garden!?  I digress.

Mapp & Lucia has been put aside for the moment, perhaps this circle of friends would be best enjoyed from a sunny patio with a glass of lemonade.  We are still blanketed in white and in winter-mode despite the calendar declaring it is now Spring.  I am far from waving the white flag on this book so if you adore this series a word of encouragement would be very much appreciated.


  1. Haven't read this one yet, but as soon as I do, I'll let you know what I think (if you haven't finished first). I'm really commenting on the fig tree. I had two in my back yard for about 8 years. I miss that house and those fig trees. I loved picking the figs and making strawberry fig jam--I was the fave girl in high school when I came in with those jars LOL

  2. You have to be in the mood for Mapp and Lucia, Darlene. I've always found them tarsome, too!
    If it's any consolation, I am also a bit bored with the long-awaited Miss Buncle. A bit twee and genteel for me. (I put it down in favour of Sally Bowles' debauched Berlin.)

  3. I've yet to read these books though I know a lot of people love them. Sometimes, though, it seems like timing is everything! Maybe a break and something else in the interim will work?

  4. Oh Darlene so sorry to hear that you're not getting on with M&L. Perhaps you're right and this particular instalment is best read during sunnier weather. I tend to have to be in the right mood for certain reads so perhaps that could be a factor... especially if I'm reading a light book after a serious one.
    Page 96 is probably just on the cusp of the real shennanigans and rivalries. Either way, there are other Bensons to choose from if you'd like to give him another go. And there's the TV series to sample too.
    Thanks for saying I'm one of your favourite bloggers :-)

  5. I read the first of the Mapp and Lucia books and have to say that I was a bit underwhelmed. It seemed awfully silly at times (the baby talk esp.). I have another in the series and will read it someday in the hope that it suits me better later on.

  6. Hold onto it and come back when you're feeling silly. Worth it then!

  7. I think the problem is that so many people start with this one, when it is really book four in a series of six, and you're supposed to work your way towards it - you meet Lucia in two novels, and Mapp in one novel, and so when they finally meet each other, you should know them intimately and be waiting for the fireworks. But... that's quite a dedication, to read three other books to enjoy this one!

  8. My gateway to Mapp & Lucia was the amazing TV series from the 1980s with Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales, and Nigel Hawthorne. If you watch that series, you will LOVE dipping into the written M&L.

  9. I like a bit of Mapp & Lucia, but I think more than one book at a time would drive me mad. They're characters to be enjoyed and then put away with equal gusto. :)

    I hadn't realized there was a TV series until I read Thomas's comment above. That's a dream cast!

  10. Agree with Thomas Darlene! The tv series is fabulous! Watch that and you'll soon be quai-haing with the rest of us :)

  11. I agree with Thomas at my Porch as I actually preferred the drama series which was on our TV in the UK in the mid 1980s to the books by E F Benson, and as it has been said, you certainly have to be in the mood for all that 1920s silliness of Georgie, Mapp & Lucia. But once into them, they are great fun.

    I would add, that Tom Holt (son of cozy crime writer, Hazel Holt) has written a couple of follow-up Mapp & Lucia novels, in the style of Benson for those who love these novels and want more!

    And I agree with Mary - I gave up on Miss Buncle, too. I may return to it, of course, but whilst there is Susan Vreeland's novel Luncheon of the Boating Party and Jacqueline Winspear's latest Maisie Dobbs on top of the TBR pile, I rather doubt it.
    Margaret P

  12. Birdie, That must have been wonderful and you really are not helping my craving with delicious talk of strawberry and fig jam!

    mary, Oh no, I wonder if I'm drifting over to the dark side!? Debauched Berlin you say...

    Danielle, Right book, wrong mood...that may definitely be the case here.

    Cristina, Simon has cleared things up a bit...I need to start at the beginning. Knowing nothing about Benson's work I thought I was! Never fear, my friend, this will work out.

    Pam, Thanks for stopping by! These books sound like something to read when you want to take yourself out of the norm. And yes, the baby talk...that threw me but then again there are all kinds and thank goodness, it keeps things interesting!

    Audrey, Exactly what I was hoping, thank you!

    StuckInABook, Thank you!!! I am ignorant when it comes to Benson so of course, jumping in at book four would cause a problem. Hopefully the library has the first installment and I can take things from there.

    Thomas, You are absolutely right, all that frantic plotting and running around may be best watched on the screen first. They tired me out!

    makedoandread, Try your local library, they just may have the series. And it's so nice to hear from you, Kate! Hope you are doing well.

    ramblingfancy, Hahaha, there's that word again! I don't know how to pronounce it so the television show is utterly necessary! Thanks, Donna.

    galant, Oh dear, I've ordered a copy of Miss Buncle Married to go along with my unread copy of Miss Buncle.

  13. What? You haven't read Miss Buncle's Book yet?

    Don't worry about Miss Buncle, Darlene. I can recognise that she's not to everyone's taste, but she is to the taste of many many many readers. Dive in.

  14. Susan, Hahaha! I would expect nothing less from one of Stevenson's greatest fans! Not to worry, I ration out my Persephone gems a little at a time but will definitely take the plunge soon.

  15. Not read Mapp and Lucia, but I've heard it on the radio - didn't make me want to read it though!!

  16. Fig tree in the backyard?? I happen to have one. Hubby loves going down picking them off and eating them whilst he is standing there.
    Will have to track down a copy of this novel though and give it a go.

  17. Darlene, I bought a boxed set of the Mapp & Lucia novels. Gorgeous Folio Society edition, they were an inducement to renew my membership & only $9.99 so not much of a risk. I'd heard lavish praise from the members of my online bookgroup (including Simon). I picked up Queen Lucia just after Christmas, read it & was very underwhelmed. I couldn't stand the baby talk & I didn't like any of the characters. On the advice of the M&L fans I'm going to give Book 2 a go. I feel they may be winter reads, so June/July here. I think they're very much an acquired taste &, as Simon says, maybe more than one book is needed to acquire the taste. Good luck if you decide to persevere.

  18. Vintage Reading, It's interesting how something that appeals to one person is not at all interesting to another. Mapp & Lucia seem to be an acquired taste.

    Gypsy Rose, Extreme envy going on here at the lucky woman!

    lyn, Oh I spied your beautiful collection when I was searching for inspiration, they are gorgeous! Well, at least they will make for very pretty display books if you're never completely hooked. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it's reassuring to know it's not just me struggling to understand this lot!

  19. Yes ma'am. I seen my duty and I done it.

  20. Totally agree with Stuck in a book that these books should be read in order to really appriciate the ongoing story. Start with 'Miss Mapp' or 'Queen Lucia', which are both less frantic and give some history to the characters. I think you will then throughly enjoy them.

  21. It's tricky and very subjective when pondering on where to start with the M&L series of 6 books.
    As some have said, the first two books with Lucia alone can be underwhelming but things do warm up... hence why I and others sometimes recommend the fourth book for starters. The fifth and sixth books (together with the fourth) are the strongest.
    Personally, I loved Miss Mapp where you originally meet the Tilling crowd sans Lucia so I would recommend that (the second book) over book one and three. As long as you read book 4,5 and 6 in order, you won't lose out on any major plot points.
    Confused yet? Go with your gut or - failing that - do try to get the TV series for a boost but THAT is an acquired taste although Prunella Scales, Geraldine McEwan and Nigel Hawthorne are superb actors :-)

  22. LOL Sorry to make your mouth water.
    I just finished Queen Lucia this weekend in the read-a-thon. I haven't had time to review it online yet, but Queen Lucia combined with BBC4 extra's Miss Mapp have just about decided me against reading more.

    I really *wanted* to like it, but I think I more or less grew up in a school that was an awful lot like their town. *shudder* Needless to say, I was one of the not-popular ones, so I had real trouble with Lucia