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This welcome addition to EF Benson's hugely popular Mapp and Lucia series finds Major Flint in need of a new servant, Miss Mapp in need of a summer tenant, and Quaint Irene in need of a pint of bitter. Romantic entanglements stir the still waters of Tilling society, cunning plots are laid, and unforeseen complications ensue. Who is doing what to whom with a bottle of sesame oil? What is the truth behind the great Tilling chocolate cake mystery? Why does Major Flint need a loaded elephant gun? Did Miss Mapp really poison the Padre? Are Diva Plaistow's days as a single woman numbered?… (más)
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Hmmmm. ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
"Major Benjy" is the first addition to E. F. Benson's "Lucia" novels since Tom Holt's "Lucia in Wartime" and "Lucia Triumphant" were published in the 1980's. Unlike Holt's books, which pick up the narrative where Benson left off, Guy Fraser-Sampson has written a tale of Tilling that takes place between Benson's "Miss Mapp" and "Mapp and Lucia."
Though Fraser-Sampson remains true to the spirit and setting of Benson's work, "Major Benjy" introduces a somewhat bawdier tone, albeit through the genteel lens of Tilling society. It's slightly jarring at first, though perhaps inevitable if one wishes to see believable, three-dimensional portraits of characters like Benjamin Flint and Irene Coles. And that is where Fraser-Sampson makes a significant contribution to the Lucia canon beyond simply spinning an entertaining story: he deftly achieves his goal of fleshing out Benson's minor characters. From Mr. Wyse's thoughtful social engineering to the Padre's bridge acumen, we learn more about our favorite Tillingites than their signature gestures. Incredibly, Fraser-Sampson even manages to work a few genuinely touching moments into the book, painted with a few simple strokes and never at the expense of the story's humor. Don't be afraid - these elements simply make our beloved characters all the more endearing.
The plot is true to form, full of enjoyable turns yet secondary to a host of selfish desires, manipulative schemes, and hilariously hypocritical posturing. When Mapp endures a typical social humiliation, she is characteristically blind to her own faults while indignant at the identical failures of others: "How typical of Diva to be so devious! She had obviously surmised that Miss Mapp might attempt to steal her thunder, but also that she would have expected her stratagem to be suspected, hence this outrageous double bluff of actually doing exactly what it was that she was supposed to be doing in the first place." That is the sort of masterful stuff that has transformed casual readers into Benson fans, Holt fans, and now (if there is any justice) into fans of Fraser-Sampson as well.
Which brings me to my exhortation that you support this worthy effort, because Guy Fraser-Sampson has more up his sleeve. Next up is "Lucia on Holiday," with the aptly titled "Au Reservoir" planned as a finale for the entire Benson/Holt/Fraser-Sampson series. The publication of these future installments is likely to be contingent upon the success of "Major Benjy." What a joy it would be if publishing houses would be forced to take note of and respond to the international Lucia fanbase. Not only would we enjoy more from Fraser-Sampson, but perhaps someone would consider reprinting Benson and the expensively rare Holt as well.
In short, fellow Luciaphiles, "Major Benjy" belongs on your bookshelf. ( )
  RobertGerardHunt | Aug 11, 2008 |
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This welcome addition to EF Benson's hugely popular Mapp and Lucia series finds Major Flint in need of a new servant, Miss Mapp in need of a summer tenant, and Quaint Irene in need of a pint of bitter. Romantic entanglements stir the still waters of Tilling society, cunning plots are laid, and unforeseen complications ensue. Who is doing what to whom with a bottle of sesame oil? What is the truth behind the great Tilling chocolate cake mystery? Why does Major Flint need a loaded elephant gun? Did Miss Mapp really poison the Padre? Are Diva Plaistow's days as a single woman numbered?

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