What can I say? I know that I have mentioned (more than once!) E. F. Benson’s charming series about Lucia… and her nemesis, Mapp. Yes, “nemesis” sounds rather harsh, but “rival” might be too gentle a word! These two women vie for the highest social ranking of the village, and all of that is done with outward smiles and nods of the head. Although the series is not a cozy mystery, it is about as cozy a series of books or television shows as you will ever find.
To our great fortune, Great Britain gave us this wonderful television series back in 1985… Mapp and Lucia, Series 1. These made-for-television shows have three of Great Britain’s very best of “the best actors”: Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales, and Nigel Hawthorne. Some of you may recognize Geraldine McEwan from the recent Agatha Christie’s Marple, Carrie’s War and Barchester Chronicles. Once you see her as Lucia, you will probably always see a glint of Lucia in every roll she masters. Prunella Scales was wonderful as the long-suffering wife on Fawlty Towers. And, Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, as well as The Madness of King George would not have been possible without the acting talents of Nigel Hawthorne .
The series takes place in the late 1920s, in a small village, where there can only be one lady supreme. Tilling is an idyllic setting, and until Lucia arrives, Miss Mapp has been able to control the comings and goings of all the village’s inhabitants. Unfortunately for Miss Mapp, Lucia arrives like a tornado, bringing Georgie (Georgino mio!) with her, and as the viewer soon finds out, Lucia is not going to allow the town’s current hierarchy to remain the same… Lucia will reign!
The books, as well as the shows, involve characters… there isn’t a lot of action. The shows take place in a quaint seaside village, with ordinary people, many of whom apparently live on family inheritances, leaving their entire days and nights free to pursue social activities. The show is not meant to teach us a moral lesson, inform us about tough philosophical questions, or solve all of life’s problems. It is simply a show that makes us smile, or in some cases laugh. I have watched the shows several times, and will certainly watch them again.
If you are interested in watching these show, I definitely recommend watching them in their correct order. Mapp and Lucia, Series 2 is from 1986, and this series continues the daily lives of the Tilling inhabitants. As delightful as these television shows are, I hope that they get people to start reading E. F. Benson’s novels. The books surpass this wonderful television series… and that’s saying a lot!
(Be forewarned, though… If you are planning on reading the novels, these delightful television movies don’t take place until the fourth book of Benson’s series. My guess is that when they were making the movies/shows, they had to pick a specific time span, and the fourth book is the one that actually gets these two adversaries together.)
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