Lucia Books - opinions, please!


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Lucia Books - opinions, please!

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Ago 15, 2007, 5:51 am

I've just joined this group, since it seems very logical. I'm an American expat living in London (on Baker Street!), and a big fan of Brit Lit.

The question I have is the following - I love E.F. Benson's Lucia books, and wish there were more. I just discovered on the LT Tom Holt's Lucia books. Has anyone read them, and how do they compare to the originals? Same voice? Same Lucia? Or noticeably different?


Ago 16, 2007, 10:34 am

I'd love to know the answer to this too! One of his books has been on my Wishlist for ages but then it seems to never have been printed or some other problem.

I don't normally read these sorts of things, as a big Jane Austen fan, there are so many continuations of her works that I have ignored but for some reason, the continuation of Lucia tempts me! :)


Sep 5, 2007, 5:22 am

So to answer my own question, since I've now read Tom Holt's books, yes! These are excellent, and in my opinion, very faithful to the original. The only issue I have is that I think the author may be more sympathetic to Lucia than E.F. Benson.

Wish there were more!

Sep 6, 2007, 12:09 pm

I'm glad to hear you liked these books! How many has Tom Holt written? I already have a *million* books in line to be read but I am adding these to the list.

Sep 6, 2007, 5:25 pm

Only two Lucia books, unfortunately - "Lucia in Wartime" and "Lucia Triumphant".
Do shop around - prices vary quite a bit from one site to another. I found mine at AbeBooks, for much less than Amazon booksellers.

Editado: Sep 16, 2007, 9:45 am

Hi: I'm a member of the EF Benson group, an online book club Bensonique. We tackled the Holt books a few years ago and they were giving some of the purists a bit of trouble. If you don't mind, I'll post an article I wrote for that group about Holt a few years ago.

He has written a third but as yet unpublished story, which was read at the annual Benson gathering this September in Rye. Unfortunately, I live in Canada, so was unable to make it over to hear it read (worst time of year at a university, which is where I work).

I'll post my comments separately, to follow.

Editado: Sep 16, 2007, 9:44 am

Well, here we go *spoiler alert Molly* - edited to fix wonky spacing, which was bugging me after the cut and paste:

"I'm going to qualify everything I say after this by prefacing it with "well, Tom Holt has to be given a lot of credit for even tackling an emulation of E.F. Benson", so that I don't seem overly critical of Mr. Holt when his main deficiency is simply that he couldn't _be_ Mr. Benson.

Our Fred had two amazing qualities. The first was a phenomenal eye when it came to observing people. The second was that rare ability
to know what to leave unsaid, to allow the reader a sense of
participation in the nterpretation of a character, an almost
surgical deftness of touch. Someone mimicking his style might have been able to approximate the former but the latter was his particular
genius. Which is why I think certain characterizations give us
trouble, Irene being a case in point. She wasn't coarse, she was nutty and avant garde and somewhat simple. Fred would never have described Major Benjy as Mapp's "long-suffering husband", he would just have us deduce it while giving us, for balance, the Major's propensity for drink in all its refined slapstick variations so that
Mapp could be seen as having her own crosses to bear. Lucia and Mapp weren't tanks ramming each other head on, they were duellists, parrying and feinting, Lucia with a rapier and Mapp with a broader sword.

But the thing that Holt misses the most, for me, is that in spite of all their squawking and feuding, the Tillingites were really very genteel people. Mr. Wyse's courtliness came across as utterly true because it was bred along the bone, it wasn't a superficial overlay...if a bit odd, he was nonetheless the Genuine Article. Lucia wouldn't want to eviscerate Mapp entirely because a lady just wouldn't ...or at least she certainly wouldn't admit to it, not even to her husband. Diva wouldn't _not_ invite Mapp up for tea even though she might not feel like it because it would be rude. It rings so true when Benson writes because he lived both in that era and in that social strata. I had to forgive Holt for missing certain things
because they would be so hard to know, coming from a different (post-war?) perspective. The closest I can come to understanding this difference is by thinking of my grandfather tearing up with mortification because he was unable to stand, after his stroke, when
a woman came in the room. I couldn't see how it mattered but to my grandfather (who also always tipped his hat to a lady on the street) it was anathema. It would be a hard sensibility to grasp if you hadn't been raised with it.

Final point - I always had the sense that Benson loved his characters (with the possible exception of Captain Puffin, whom he drowned in
his oxtail soup), that they came out of him with much compassion and kindness, never caricatures but fully fleshed. Holt couldn't possibly be expected to know them the way Benson, their creator, did. So I
just had to think of the Holt story as a completely separate entity to allow it to stand on its own merit. The characters and their dynamics are wonderful enough to pull along a worse writer than Holt and he did a credible job with the situations he created for them. I
should say a very credible job, so I'm not damning with faint
praise. On the whole, I was glad to be back in Tilling."