Queen Lucia

I’m always hesitant to start a story with high hopes, and E. F. Benson’s Lucia seems truly to be treated like a queen—a book blurb quotes W. H. Auden as a “devoted fan,” while a website gives a glossary of people and places. I was eager to join the ranks of the elite, and immediately felt erudite for understanding the references to Elizabethan culture and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in the first chapter.

While Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire Chronicles are rife with comedy, life in Queen Lucia’s Riseholme is more ironic than funny, a dance of personalities that involves just as much thought as action. From Lucia’s appropriation of the guru to Daisy Quantock’s false medium, each move is calculated to have specific effects on various neighbors. To outsiders like Olga Bracely these events are unpredictable and amusing, but to the residents they are merely a routine way of life.

We see most of the story through the eyes of Georgie Pilson, a devotee of both Lucia and Olga who must reconcile the conflicting elements. He is somewhat of a laughable figure, prone to vanity and eager to please, who almost seems emasculated with his bevy of female friends. Most of the other male characters are indulgent but removed from the various schemes of their wives.

Lucia, though often petty and vain, is definitely a memorable character even if not always likeable. When she does get her comeuppance I actually felt sorry for her, as nothing seems actually ill-intentioned. The way she tosses fragments of Italian into conversation definitely reminded me of a friend who often does the same thing (but more for personal enjoyment); the baby-talk, however, got old quickly.

I would by no means call myself devoted, as the book seems to lack the charm of other series, but I was interested and engrossed for the whole novel and have decided to see the series through.

Published in: on February 25, 2009 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Corduroy Mansions

Today was the hundredth and last installment of Alexander McCall Smith’s online novel, and I was very sorry to see it end. There were most definitely some loose ends, but overall it did seem like a good breaking point. The main focus was after all on William, and his relationships and state of mind are much more peaceful now.

Oedipus, however, remains unscathed, and Barbara has yet to hear the conclusion to her fiance’s fiascoes abroad. Even Basil is still a mystery, though he may never be fully explained. I am least satisfied with where Caroline’s storyline is headed, as she is my favorite character (yes, even more so than Freddie de la Haye). I was really rooting for her and James; apparently AMS had other plans in mind, which seemed much too abrupt and out of the blue.

I’m desperately hoping that he’ll continue the story, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to have enjoyed a serial novel as it was intended to be read. Every installment was a new little treat, especially poetic ones like “A Flower in the Air between Two People.” I don’t know what I’ll do with myself now on lunch breaks! The reader comments (when they worked) were a nice side effect of the online format.

In parting, I’ll share this beautiful snippet for the obligatory ending party poem:

“Friendship is a guise of love,

And love is friendship

Dressed up for a night out.

Published in: on February 14, 2009 at 10:16 pm  Comments (1)  

Odds and Ends

Since the first week of classes my reading has dropped drastically, which I’m not thrilled about, but it’s still an improvement over last semester.

I dipped a little into Inkheart and Joy in the Morning, both of which I had started at home, and just picked up again with Cherry Ames if I have time before bed. I’ve also been carring around Queen Lucia which I found at the library, but I know once I start it will receive preference over homework.

I finally got caught up last week with Corderoy Mansions, and am dismayed that it ends on Friday. Hopefully AMC will elect to continue, for his characters still have too much potential and many have disappeared for dozens of chapters at a time. Right now it feels like there are far too many loose ends for him to wrap them all up satisfactorily, and if he tries the quality of writing will surely not be up to renowned level. I’m waiting for next week with baited breath.

Published in: on February 7, 2009 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment