Mapp at Fifty (Book 1)

A pastiche featuring the famous characters of E.F.Benson.

Available now as a download in either Kindle (requires sideloading) or EPUB (Kobo, Nook, iPad, etc.) format as well as M4b audiobook format.

And here are the first four chapters available to listen to:

Here’s a short sample:

“Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away”. Elizabeth Mapp-Flint, as she sang these words as part of the choir of the Sunday morning service at Tilling church, reflected to herself that Time also bore away its daughters. Her current thoughts were chiefly concerned with one such daughter, namely herself.

For, although she had long since – indeed, for nearly half a century – known of its approach, the imminent arrival of her fiftieth birthday was preying on her mind. A number of related matters presented themselves to her for her attention, and as she automatically sang the words of the hymn and sat for the sermon, she mulled them over to herself.

Firstly, there was the problem of her age. Without having committed herself outright, she had, ever so delicately, put it about that she had been born several years after the date on her birth certificate. If she wanted to commemorate the half-century of the world’s being favoured by the presence of Mrs Elizabeth Mapp-Flint, or Miss Elizabeth Mapp, as she had been styled until only a few years previously, those missing years would have to be explained away. At present, she was unsure how this might be managed, but there was no doubt in her mind that managed it would be.

Next, there was a glorious vision of a chance to outshine Lucia on the occasion of the celebration she was envisaging. Lucia, she remembered, had placed fifty-one candles on the cake that was presented to the guests to mark her fiftieth birthday. Very well, Elizabeth would have fifty-two. There would be no question of Elizabeth providing the quantities of wine that Lucia had served to her guests on that day, but the money saved by the production of the famous ancestral and economical “cup” (a bottle of white wine and quantities of ginger and soda water) would come in handy for the purchase of several hen lobsters, to be used in the production of lobster à la Riseholme. The expression on Lucia and Georgie Pillson’s faces when they tasted the dish would more than compensate for the extravagance.

Lastly, but by no means least in her mind, she had a specific reason in mind for making it known that she had now reached the state of riper years. A few years ago, Lucia had been created Mayor of Tilling, and Elizabeth was of the strong opinion that her (Lucia’s) seniority in terms of chronological age had outweighed her (Elizabeth’s) seniority as the doyenne of Tilling society when it came to selecting the first citizen of Tilling. Through the act of publicly proclaiming her age, Elizabeth was certain that this added dignity would ensure her appointment as the next Mayor, entitled to walk in processions wearing the most fetching robes, preceded by the Town Crier bearing the Municipal Mace, and pointed out and photographed by tourists as the embodiment of English civic tradition.

These matters having been duly dealt with, Elizabeth sank into a pleasurable reverie regarding the birthday gift that she would demand – no, she would not demand, but gently suggest to Benjy that he present to her to mark the start of her sixth decade of life. She was awakened from visions of sable coats (vulgarly opulent, and in any case far beyond the reach of Major Benjy’s purse) and a week in Monte Carlo, when she heard the Padre intoning “And now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost”.

With a start she realised that she had not heard a word of what he had been saying for the past (she glanced surreptitiously at her watch) twenty-three minutes, thereby depriving her of the pleasure of criticising the sermon to all and sundry over the course of the coming week.