Desirable Residences and other stories by E.F. Benson

This book was one of my purchases on my recent foray into England, I bought this one from the Amnesty International bookshop in Great Malvern, I couldn’t resist it as it’s a book of short stories which includes a Miss Mapp story.

E.F. Benson wrote a lot of short stories which were published in various magazines and he tailored the stories to appeal to the various publications. They are divided into seven categories: Crank Stories, Society Stories, Cruel Stories, Odd Stories, Dodo Stories, Spook Stories and The Diversions of Amy Bondham.

I’m a big fan of the Mapp and Lucia books but I hadn’t read anything else by Benson but I will be on the look-out for more of his books now as I did enjoy these short stories, even the Spook ones which is what he called his ghost stories. The character of Lucia is just beginning to be formed but if you enjoy the Mapp and Lucia books you’ll want to get your hands on these.

10 thoughts on “Desirable Residences and other stories by E.F. Benson

  1. I don’t remember where I got it, but I have a very thick paperback book of The Collected Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson. It’s almost as thick as my hardbound volume of all the Mapp and Lucia books.

    • Joan,
      I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to read ghost stories, my imagination can be a bit wild and I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat, but I did enjoy these ones so I’ll look out for more.

    • Lisa,
      I hope you do find a copy. Ghost story writing must have been quite lucrative as he seems to have written so many, I suppose a lot of people love being scared!

  2. Lovely review thanks. I thought I had read all the Mapp and Lucia stories (including the delectable “The Male Impersonator”) but “Desirable Residences” is a new Mapp and Lucia story to me. Can you give a short resume: e.g. its length; which characters feature etc? Many thanks!

    • Panjandrum,
      Thank you for your comment and reminding me that I had bought this book, which had got lost in my book piles. I’m going to read it very soon but anyway – Desirable Residences is only six pages long and just from flicking through it I can’t see any mention of Lucia. Elizabeth Mapp and Diva Plaistow are the main characters and it’s about them renting out their houses for the summer, as they did every year, and playing bridge of course. Miss Mapp decides to rent out her house to the same family who had it the summer before but it seems that things don’t go smoothly!


      • Thanks Katrina!

        As a Benson-o-phile even six pages of Mapp (albeit no Lucia) which I never knew existed has to be worth the £0.01 this is going for on Amazon! With Benson you know that it is all elegantly written and that at least some of the stories will delight.

        • Panjandrum,
          I hope you enjoy it. Have you read Lucia Triumphant by Tom Holt, he also wrote one called Lucia in Wartime. He’s not Benson but if you want to revisit Tilling and Lucia they are worth reading.

          • No I haven’t read them yet Katrina. I glanced at some extracts on Amaazon; it looked as if he had captured Benson’s prose style well but I couldn’t detect quite the wit or humour of the original. That might be a bit harsh on such paltry acquaintance so maybe I will give it a go. There’s another Lucia spin-off: “Major Benjy” by Guy Fraser-Sampson which has also had mixed reviews. IMHO, “Secret Lives” and “Paying Guests” are probably the next best thing to the Lucia books.

          • Panjandrum,
            Thanks, I haven’t read those ones yet. I think I will be downloading some more of his books from Project Gutenberg or Manybooks in the future. It’s the cattiness and witty dialogue which I love about Benson but it does seem to be difficult to replicate. I love the ITV adaptations of the books too, with Geraldine McEwan as Lucia – and her wonderful clothes.

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