Mapp and Lucia

Mapp and Lucia - E.F. Benson, Nancy Mitford Delightful; amusing; gentle comedy of manners: while accurate descriptors of Mapp and Lucia, these words also make it sound twee and, perhaps, dated, which is far from the truth. Gossipy, waspish and, at times, malignant are also accurate, and go more to the heart of the humour.Elizabeth Mapp hates Emmeline "Lucia" Lucas with a passion; Lucia despises and pities Mapp in equal measure. Each scheming and plotting to be the centre of their social circle, their machinations against each other must always be concealed (barely and, usually, ineffectually) by the appropriate observances of the middle and upper-middle class conventions of a "between-the-wars" England at its most parochial.The other villagers are by turns allies, pawns and antagonists in the war between Mapp and Lucia. Loyalties swing from one side to the other as first one, then the other appears to have the upper hand. However, Mapp's malevolence usually causes her to overplay her hand and, just when she seems about to trump her opponent, she makes some awful gaff that Lucia turns to her advantage.There is a well-observed cast of satellite characters, notably Lucia's best friend and companion, the effeminate and endearing Georgie Pilling, the only person of steadfast and unwavering loyalty amongst the two main combatants' followers.I absolutely loved this book and cannot recommend it too highly.