The Blotting Book by E.F. Benson

The Blotting Book by E.F. Benson was first published in 1908 but I read a reprint by Vintage Books which was published in 2013. I don’t think I had even realised that Benson had written crime fiction although when we visited Lamb House in Rye, where he used to live, I noticed that there was a bookcase jam-packed with books that he had written, and he had written a lot more than the Mapp and Lucia series, which I loved.

Mrs Assheton is a wealthy widow who dotes on her only child Morris. He’s just turned 22 and his father’s will stipulated that his lawyers would have control of Morris’s money until he was 24 – or until he got married, when he would need access to his money to set up his own home. As it happens Morris is in love with Madge who lives nearby. She’s rather well-heeled herself and Morris is nervous about ‘popping the question’.

So when Morris discovers that one of the partners of the law firm has been dropping poisonous lies into the ears of Madge’s father about him he’s naturally furious. It looks like his dreams of marrying Madge are in tatters.

This is a quick read at just 149 pages and it seems slow to begin with but the tension builds up bit by bit and I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would, so I’ll definitely read more of Benson’s crime fiction in the future.

A few years ago we visited Rye, where E.F. Benson lived and was the setting for the Mapp and Lucia books, we liked it so much we’re going back again. You might be interested in the blogposts I wrote about our visit. Henry James and Rumer Godden also lived in Lamb House over the years. You can see some photos of the town here and here.

2 thoughts on “The Blotting Book by E.F. Benson

  1. I’ve only read his Mapp and Lucia books which I loved, I’ve been meaning to read his other fiction! It’s in the public domain and I’ve downloaded it so I’ll hopefully start reading it soon. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Karen K,
      I’m a big fan of the Mapp and Lucia books. This one was very different, more old fashioned. For me it got better towards the end, I hope you enjoy it, at least it’s free on P Gutenberg! It’s a shame it’s the only one of his crime fiction they have.

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