Queen Lucia

Queen Lucia - E.F. Benson [These notes were made in 1984:]. I picked this up because Nicholas Pennell announced in an article that Benson's Lucia and Mapp stories were favourites ('Imitation is the sincerest form,' and all that). I can see how he might enjoy them - this, the first in the series, is written in a deliciously light, ironic tone throughout, gently showing up the silly pretensions of Lucia and her shallow friends while yet keeping us interested in their little goings-on. The events are slight enough: the arrival of a Guru and his exposure as a fake; the appearance of a genuine diva, and her establishment in the neighbourhood. Less sharp and more obvious than Austen, tending more to caricature, the novel still has something of that precise observation of the great small happenings of everyday life of which she was mistress. I enjoyed this, but not so much that I immediately rushed to the library for the sequel. I suspect they must have caught Mr. Pennell at a susceptible age, as the Brosters caught me.