Monday, October 11, 2010

British Wit and "Mapp and Lucia"

After visiting the Cotswolds in England this summer, I became curious about the British series of novels "Mapp and Lucia" by E.F. Benson.  The books were written in the 1920's and 1930's and set in a village in the Cotswolds and a village in Sussex.

I had been watching the riveting and intense HBO series "The Wire" on DVD.  After making my way through the fourth season, I decided I needed a break and specifically some comic relief.  I ordered the DVD of the 1985 and 1986 television show 
"Mapp and Lucia."

I watched all ten episodes (there are only ten!) and could  not get enough of this hilarious, laugh out loud comic masterpiece.  The story revolves around the social rivalry between the two main characters, Elizabeth Mapp and Emmeline Lucas (Lucia) and their struggle for power in an idyllic English village.  Prior to Lucia moving to the village, Elizabeth had been the social queen.  Her position is threatened by Lucia who is richer, more sophisticated, and more confident than Mapp, and peppers her conversation with Italian phrases and bon mots, such as "Au Reservoir," when saying good-bye.  Two great actresses play the leads:  Geraldine McEwan as Lucia and Prunella Scales as Mapp. Nigel Hawthorne and many other familiar British actors round out the cast.

Anyone who is a fan of British humor will enjoy this gem of a television show.  For me it is in the company of "Love in a Cold Climate" and "Jeeves and Wooster," two other excellent television adaptations of comic British novels.

I was excited to read in the November issue of "Town and Country" that there are a number of witty books by British authors coming out next month.

"Wait for Me" by Deborah Mitford, about her life with her famous sisters

"The Noel Coward Reader," a collection of his best works 

"Must you Go" by Antonia Fraser, a remembrance of her life with her late husband, playwright Harold Pinter   

A reissue of the novels of Nancy Mitford 

Anglophiles can anticipate a rich winter season of reading.  

I will be doing mine right here. 

Au Reservoir


  1. Au resevoir to you too! Love this post :)

  2. love the new post! au resevoir is so chic! very french!

  3. i'm loving your blog! so inspiring!

  4. I can't wait to share this with my dad!

  5. totally lovely, just like you dear Sunday

  6. Oh thanks for the laugh... a remembered laugh... Au Reservoir! We have owned the Mapp & Lucia videos for many, many years and have watched them at least 3 times through. Priceless writing and incomparable acting. In fact, it was so long ago that we purchased them, there are in VCR form! Luckily we still have a DVD/VCR player that works fine! Quay high!