When I finally got round to discovering Mapp and Lucia a few years ago, I read them all through in one mad binge which is my wont and then wished there were more to come. I read the Tom Holt trio which kept me going another month and then that was that. Until Guy Fraser-Sampson came up with another - Major Benjy.
In the introduction the author says "There are in fact only two things wrong with the Mapp and Lucia books. The first is that there are only six of them....second problem is that because of this there are gaps in the narrative which are never filled in, into which holes some characters fall without explanation to be never seen again"
The particular tome is set just before Lucia arrives in Tilling for the first time and rents Elizabeth's house for the summer. We have already met the main resident characters in the earlier books and it is a joy to once more meet the Major, Quaint Irene, the Wyses and all the others, but I will freely admit that Lucy, who lives with Irene ("the precise basis upon which the two shared Taormina was something upon which polite Tilling society preferred not to speculate"), was not a character who had impinged upon my consciousness. However, I understand that she had fallen into one of these 'holes' referred to so in Major Benjy we learn more about her and just how and why she left Tilling.
No need for me to elaborate on the content of this utterly glorious book as all Lucia and Mapppites will fall upon it with cries of rapture and read and, unless you are feeling most contrary, will adore. I know I did.
May I please ask the author to seek out other 'holes' in E F Benson's narrative and write more about them? I would love to hear about the young Lucia and how she met Pepino, like to learn a bit more about Georgie and what happens after the glorious finale of the books when the Duchess of Sheffield comes to stay with Lucia and Elizabeth is utterly routed. One cannot believe that she would really not bounce back and try something else. Reference is also made to Lucia meeting Elizabeth when she visited Riseholme and took up her prase of Au Reservoir. Would love to hear more about that as well.....
Thank you Guy for this labour of love. You should be dubbed Sir Guy on the spot for outstanding service to all Mapp and Lucia lovers.
Note: this was my original review when Major Benjy was published several years ago. I am delighted that it has now been reprinted and by the publisher who recently issued Lucia on Holiday, also by Guy, which I reviewed here. Obviously they are publishers of discernment and I hope they will encourage Guy to write some more.
Guy is appearing at the forthcoming Felixstowe Book Festival and it will be my pleasure and privilege to introduce his talk on Mapp and Lucia details of which can be found on the Festival's website. Please do come along and hear what I am sure is going to be an entertaining and joyful occasion.
Au reservoir everyone.