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Miss Mapp by E. F. Benson

Miss Mapp (1922)

by E. F. Benson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mapp and Lucia (2)

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4861421,119 (4.16)83
  1. 00
    Major Benjy by Guy Fraser-Sampson (Quaint1)
    Quaint1: A continuation of the Tilling series

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In the third book of the Make Way For Lucia series, the character of Miss Mapp is the centerpiece. Miss Mapp and the other quirky characters of this novel live in the fictional town of Tilling. Lucia does not appear in this book, as the book is intended to introduce the character of Miss Mapp who will bump heads with Lucia in the next volume.

Once again, we have a small town where the lives of everyone are fodder for gossip and one-upmanship. The difference is that in Lucia, the town of Riseholme revolves around their "Queen", Lucia, where Miss Mapp is the equal of the townsfolk of Tilling, and therefore there is more scheming and backstabbing involved to out maneuver the other residents. And Miss Mapp can be vindictive if she doesn't get her way. All of this is done hilariously.

I love the opening line -

"Miss Elizabeth Mapp might have been forty, and she had taken advantage of this opportunity by being just a year or two older."

Miss Mapp's house is situated at the top of a road where she has full view of the residents as they pass by on the street below. She sits behind her curtain with a notebook at her side, making many assumptions about their comings and goings (many of which are incorrect), and these lead to many comical situations. She keeps her eye on her two nearest neighbors, Major Flint and Captain Puffin, as one never knows when they may succumb to her charms. She also keeps an eye on her rival and friend Diva.

""Peace on earth and mercy mild," sang Miss Mapp, holding her head back with her uvula clearly visible. She sat in her usual seat close below the pulpit, and the sun streaming in through a stained-glass window opposite made her face of all colors, like Joseph's coat. Not knowing how it looked from outside, she pictured to herself a sort of celestial radiance coming from within, though Diva, sitting opposite, was reminded of the iridescent hues observable on cold boiled beef. But then, Miss Mapp had registered the fact that Diva's notion of singing alto was to follow the trebles at the uniform distance of a minor third below, so that matters were about square between them."

There are many situations that made me laugh. Miss Mapp is so absurd, that I am looking forward to her meeting Lucia in the next book. Their clashing personalities will make for more fun. I recommend this clever series.

Read July 2013 ( )
  NanaCC | Jul 26, 2015 |
I've read the entire Mapp & Lucia series a few times and have come to the conclusion that Miss Mapp is my favourite character. Such a crafty mischief-maker! The machinations and intrigues of the residents of Tilling are hilariously entertaining. Major Flint and Captain Puffin are known to have bibulous disagreements but it was Puffin's belligerent confrontation with Miss Mapp that made me laugh so hard it brought tears to my eyes: "You say I'm drunk, do you? Well I say you're drunk."

On this nth reading, I'm awarding 5 stars yet again. ( )
  VivienneR | Jun 26, 2015 |
What a disappointment! I read 'Queen Lucia' earlier in the year and was entranced, and had looked forward to this book and the subsequent instalments in the series with great anticipation. This, however, proved to be lamentably wide of the mark.

I found myself lumbering through cloying prose peopled with stilted characters, and it proved to be an almost Herculean task to persevere through to the end. Still, that is not a mistake I shall make with any of the rest of the series. Let's just put it down to experience and try to move on to some thing worthwhile. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Aug 15, 2014 |
I've sat around and had discussions with friends about the genius behind the show Seinfeld: how can "a show about nothing" have run for so many seasons, and still manage to maintain its freshness and hilarity to this day?

That's exactly what I asked myself after I finished reading Miss Mapp. This is the third book in a series of six books (Make Way for Lucia) written by E.F. Benson spanning the early 1920s and ending in the late 1930s. A few times when I was asked to describe what I was reading as of late, I would get flustered about how best to explain it because...it really is a book about "nothing in particular." Boring, you say? Far from it! I'm going to try to get my bearings in gear so that after reading this review hopefully you're not scratching your head, and wondering what the heck that was all about.

Benson effectually peels the cover off of the town of Tilling, an idyllic English village on the coast, and lets the reader peer directly onto the comings and goings of the townsfolk. At its core is a group of genteel society folks living quiet lives that revolve around delicate routine: "...the days would scurry by in a round of housekeeping, bridge, weekly visits to the workhouse, and intense curiosity as to anything of domestic interest which took place in the strenuous world of this little country town."

Miss Mapp runs this town like a true queen bee, and it's hilarious to watch her quash any attempts at revolt, and monopolize the town gossip and use it to her advantage...always. Mapp is a pretty ruthless character, and though not my favorite, I felt uncomfortable that a lot of her feelings and thoughts resonated with me. I always wonder how Benson knew so much about women. There are so many rules that are never said, just understood. When are these things ingrained into us?

I especially loved the secondary characters, and how they added so much to the flora of the town. Diva, Miss Mapp's arch nemesis, is one of my favorite characters. She is equally as cunning as Mapp, but she has more of a heart. Quaint Irene, the town bohemian who wears men's clothes, and Mrs. Poppit, the rich widow who throws her money in everyone's faces with her fancy dinners, are just a couple of the folks that liven up the town. If you're ever in the mood for a good laugh, you will definitely be in for a treat with this book and series. I can't wait to crack into the next book. ( )
1 vote dreamydress48 | Jan 21, 2014 |
Forty-ish Elizabeth Mapp, much like the heroine of the last book in this series, Lucia, places great stock in the latest news in her village of Tilling. The first person in possession of the latest tidbits has a tactical advantage over her neighbors. Therefore, she maintains a vigilant surveillance of her neighborhood from her garden room window, where “anger and the gravest suspicions about everybody had kept her young and on the boil.”

Written in 1922, there is very little here to remind readers of the horrid war that effected so many in those years following World War I. By design, this is a light-hearted, humorous look at life in an English village and reading it at this point in time gives the reader a glimpse of a time long ago when people took time for tea, had servants, found pleasure and importance everyday occurrences and lived an entirely different kind of life.

Miss Mapp’s primary nemesis is her fellow village resident Godiva Plaistow and the two carry on a hilarious give and take relationship as they try to one-up each other. The main thrust of their one-upmanship occurs as they vie against each other to out-create various dresses. In addition, directly across from Miss Mapp reside two bumbling gentleman, retired military men, who enjoy daily golf outings and take pleasure in each other’s company over a drink or two in the evening.

Every morning at the appointed time village residents fill the streets with their market baskets ready for their purchases, which according to accepted mores, must be kept covered so that no one knows what’s been procured. And Miss Mapp certainly follows all the rules and makes sure that others do so as well. She meets her match, however, when the Contessa comes to town:
”Miss Mapp’s head was in a whirl. The Contessa said in the loudest possible voice all that everybody else only whispered; she displayed (in her basket) all that everybody else covered up with thick layers of paper. If Miss Mapp had only guessed that the Contessa would have a market basket, she would have paraded the High Street with a leg of mutton protruding from one end and a pair of Wellington boots from the other…But who could have suspected that a Contessa…”

It’s hard to over-emphasize the power Miss Mapp has over her fellow village residents or the skill Benson displayed in creating dialogue that dripped with irony and humor. Absolutely delightful. ( )
4 vote brenzi | Sep 8, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
E. F. Bensonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riess, LyndaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Miss Elizabeth Mapp might have been forty, and she had taken advantage of this opportunity by being just a year or two older.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0552990833, Paperback)

trade edition paperback, vg+

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:43 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Miss Elizabeth Mapp, magnificent, grande dame and heiress, is always on the lookout lest her neighbors fall outside the bounds of perfect, exemplary manners. But her tightly controlled world is soon beset on all sides by interlopers, first in the disturbingly masculine form of two very different retired army officers, both of whom are anything but retiring in their conflicting aims upon her heart.… (more)

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