Monday, 13 October 2008

My first books

I've made a good start!

Deciding that there is no time like the present, I headed home on Friday with a haul of 6 books from the library. They are the 6 Lucia books by E F Benson, which I've read before but not for a while. It seems that reading a book a day for a year is to be my new "stunt", a la Lucia!

I'm up to date so far, having read Lucia, Lucia in London and Miss Mapp over the weekend. I couldn't resist starting on Mapp and Lucia as well, so I'm ahead with that for today. There have been many laugh-out-loud moments over the weekend as a result.

What struck me about Lucia was how modern the book is, despite having been written in 1920. Daisy Quantock is very New Age, with her interests in diet and yoga. At the same time the book harks back to an earlier time with its emphasis on calling cards and society. Lucia is awful, with her cultural snobbery and ultra-controlling ways, and much of the humour derives from her plans going wrong. At the same time you can't help but admire her scheming and sheer cheek and feel sorry for her as well if things don't go her way. In Lucia in London she takes social climbing to a new level, getting herself into scrapes and then getting herself out of them again. Then in Miss Mapp we are introduced to her arch-rival. Elizabeth Mapp is much less sympathetic than Lucia but again we can't help but admire her nerve as well as her cunning solutions to the problems she gets herself into.

More on Mapp and Lucia tomorrow. Like Austen, E F Benson does not concern himself with the larger world and frankly the reader does not care, with so much wit packed into his observations on the little worlds of Riseholme and Tilling.