<b>Queen Lucia</b> by E.F. Benson
Emmaline (Lucia) Lucas is the undisputed queen of Riseholme during the roaring 20’s, and everyone knows it. She and her husband, Peppino, are close, and her next closest friend and ally is Georgie; while some think they flirt, that couldn’t be further from the truth, but he is definitely her go-to friend and confidante. As the neighbourhood becomes wrapped up in an Indian guru after Lucia snags him away from Mrs. Quantock, Georgie’s tall, strapping sisters bicycle in for a month’s stay after sending their dog and things by train, turning poor Georgie into a mess with their dog, whom he is certain is vicious and their rambunctious ways. Just at about the same time, his friend, the opera singer Olga Barcely, married to a different Georgie, but who hasn’t changed her name, comes to town, and then such a commotion as people race to be the first to see her and have her over. When Olga unwittingly offends Lucia, things go far from well, and poor Georgie is caught in the middle, and in the meantime romances begin to blossom among some of the local singles.
This is a delightful novel about the goings on of a small English community and the splash a newcomer makes. Light, fun, humourous with some glimpses into human nature and a wonderfully surprising amount of grace and compassion from someone you might not expect it from (but which of the characters I won’t say). I hadn’t even heard of this series until one of my Shelfari friends said she was rereading it and that I really must try it. I am planning to read the rest of the Lucia novels, but no more than one per month so I can savour and enjoy them without getting tired of them. This wasn’t so stellar I’d give it five stars, and it lost another half star because of a few little things, such as the odd time Georgie and Lucia talk in baby talk (perhaps this was done more among friends in the 1920s, but since that was before my parents’ time, I have no idea.)