Queen Lucia (1920)

by E. F. Benson

Queen Lucia is the first of six satirical novels starring the snobby Mrs. Emmeline Lucas (“Lucia”), the self-ordained arbiter of society and culture in the small English town of Riseholme between the world wars. When a famous opera singer takes up residence in the village, when a neighbor and sometime rival seizes the spotlight by inviting in a resident guru and later a Russian spiritualist, the silly maneuvers by which Lucia defends her throne are skewered with characteristically dry British wit. The rest of the characters, though not quite as abominable as Lucia, are nearly as absurd in their preoccupations — yet their antics entertain rather than nauseate readers.

Author E. F. Benson was the son of an archbishop of Canterbury who produced many novels and scholarly works, but only the Lucia series remains in print. In later novels Benson gave Lucia her most formidable foe, Miss Mapp of Tilling. A public television series, Mapp and Lucia, was based on the novels.


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