Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: Queen Lucia

Queen Lucia is the first book in E.F. Benson's Lucia and Mapp series that chronicles the lives of the upper crust in rural England.  It was originally published in 1920.  I really loved Benson's Mrs. Ames, so I was excited to start his most famous series.

I read Queen Lucia as an audiobook.  I don't think I've quite mastered the art of listening to audiobooks, and I admit that sometimes my mind would wander and I'd come back to the book and be a little lost.  But I just kept going, rather than deal with the difficulty of finding the last place that I remembered best.

I didn't love Queen Lucia quite as much as I loved Mrs. Ames, but I have a feeling that's because I read Mrs. Ames first.  Queen Lucia is really just as funny.  Benson shows all the foibles of the upper class.  Lucia is the head of society, but no one really knows how she got there and they all want to dethrone her.  Another character falls for all the latest trends - she used to be into Christian Science, but then she falls in love with yoga, and then when Lucia steals her guru, she is all about spritualism and seances.  The main male character, Georgie, is Lucia's best friend, but he feels like she doesn't truly appreciate him and his devotion.

The problems the characters in this book face are hilarious.  It's fascinating to think of people who spend all day being rich.  Lucia practices the piano, plans garden parties, gossips with her friends, learns yoga and delivers witty insults to her friends and followers.  I think the reason I didn't like this book as much as Mrs. Ames is because Lucia is not as sympathetic or vulnerable a character.  Mrs. Ames was trying to keep up the appearance of being a leader of society while her income decreased, her husband strayed, and her life fell apart around her.  Lucia, on the other hand, is someone I would quite happily see toppled.  She also is a fan of baby talk in regular conversation, saying things like "Me no likey" and other absolutely ridiculous and highly irritating phrases.  I don't understand what is with the English upper class and using baby talk - I remember that Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, was known for doing the same.  WHY???? I don't understand.

This was a fun, light book that I think would be a great beach or plane read.  It will make you giggle and smile and feel superior, which is always nice :-)  Definitely looking forward to reading the rest of this series!