Customer Review

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious fun in a small English village, June 20, 2001
This review is from: Miss Mapp (Paperback)
Miss Mapp rules the tiny English village of Tilling- that is she rules those who matter. It is a tiny circle of people who have enough class to rate her attention - but she manipulates and lauds over them with machiavellian schemes, and intelligent surmises - and she is intelligent.
Benson has written a village with a range of gorgeous characters - from Diva who is Miss Mapp's great rival, to Irene the local artist who keeps embarrassing Miss Mapp with her prosaic pronouncements. Then there is the local Vicar who talks in a combination of Shakespearian English and Burnsian dialect. There is also Mrs Poppit who is an up and coming social climber (hardly worthy of Miss Mapp's notice) and the novel begins with Miss Mapps machinations to the Poppitt Bridge party.
Village life you see seems to run around Bridge parties. In this petty world of card games there is a great deal of opportunity to expose one another's weaknesses and Miss Mapp, in order to be the center of village life in Tilling finds no object too petty to exploit. This is a novel of small things made into huge issues because of the smallness of the village. There is Miss Mapps constant running battle to dress better than Diva, the competition over Mr Wyse's attentions (with his supposed comtessa sister), and the ever pressing desire to be the First To Know all the gossip in town.
The physical descriptions both through the characters minds and from Benson's pen are wonderful for instance Diva is always depicted as whirling around the place - her legs circling. Mrs Poppit is ever present in a huge and weighty sable coat.
This is a wonderful book, and beautifully written. Benson seems to me to be very influenced by Austen - there is the small and claustrophobic atmosphere of village life - the characters (Miss Mapp seems so like Mrs Norris of Austen's 'Mansfield Park') to me - and then there are the odd Austen Names (in this case the Coles feature strongly as a family that is not quite up to snuff - just as the Coles are in 'Emma'). If nothing else Benson writes of English village life in the 1920's with the same Ironic pen as Austen did of village life in the early nineteenth century.
Highly recommended if you want a couple of days of laughter.
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