Miss Mapp by E.F. Benson

Benson effectually peels the cover off of the town of Tilling, an idyllic English village on the coast, and lets the reader peer directly onto the comings and goings of the townsfolk. At its core is a group of genteel society folks living quiet lives that revolve around delicate routine: “…the days would scurry by in a round of housekeeping, bridge, weekly visits to the workhouse, and intense curiosity as to anything of domestic interest which took place in the strenuous world of this little country town.”

Miss Mapp runs this town like a true queen bee, and it’s hilarious to watch her quash any attempts at revolt, and monopolize the town gossip and use it to her advantage…always. Mapp is a pretty ruthless character, and though not my favorite, I felt uncomfortable that a lot of her feelings and thoughts resonated with me. I always wonder how Benson knew so much about women. There are so many rules that are never said, just understood. When are these things ingrained into us?

I especially loved the secondary characters, and how they added so much to the flora of the town. Diva, Miss Mapp’s arch nemesis, is one of my favorite characters. She is equally as cunning as Mapp, but she has more of a heart. Quaint Irene, the town bohemian who wears men’s clothes, and Mrs. Poppit, the rich widow throws her money in everyone’s faces with her fancy dinners, are just a couple of the folks that liven up the town. If you’re ever in the mood for a good laugh, you will definitely be in for a treat with this book and series.

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