RogerBW's Blog

Queen Lucia, E. F. Benson 03 April 2019

1920 comedy, first of the series. Mrs Lucas, "Lucia" to all, is the social arbiter of the village of Riseholme – in spite of the best efforts of her subjects.

It is one of my truisms that I cannot find it in me to care about characters who aren't at least a bit sympathetic, and that is indeed a problem here. These people are almost entirely without positive features: they drift from fad to fad while gossiping about who said what to whom, they're terribly impressed with each other's meagre talents at music or poetry, and they actually do… nothing of interest. Only Georgie Pillson, the crypto-gay admirer of Lucia with his hair dye and toupet (sic), comes close to being at all interesting, and that's only because he has Terrible Doubts.

The bird-like eye produced its compelling effect on Georgie. So short a time ago he had indulged in revolutionary ideas, and had contemplated having the Guru and Olga Bracely to dinner, without even asking Lucia: now the faint stirrings of revolt faded like snow in summer.

Another element I tend to dislike in comedy, the person set up to fail and unknowingly proceeding into that failure, is mostly absent, which helps; and I didn't dislike this anything like as much as I usually do this genre. So that's good. (Indeed, I read it because it was highly recommended by multiple people whose judgement I generally respect.) And the Queen Bee is of course a timeless archetype.

I don't know. This is why I tell people that I have no sense of humour: there are many things I find funny, but deliberate comedy like this leaves me mostly cold. It's not so much that I can readily see myself as the butt of the joke, though that's part of it; it's that only very rare comic writers can balance the character development that I crave with the need for characters to act stupidly in order to get laughs.

Followed indirectly by Miss Mapp. Freely available from Project Gutenberg.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming bookmonth chain of command children chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 existential risk falklands war fandom fantasy film firefly first world war flash point food garmin drive gazebo geodata gin gurps gurps 101 harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux mecha men with beards museum mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha quantum rail ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1