Lucia, recently widowed, is the newcomer to the village of Tilling and eager to wrest the reins of social supremacy from the incumbant Miss Mapp and install herself as its benevolent dictator. In their polite acts of sabotage and ruthless jockeying for the position of cultural arbiter Mapp and Lucia tear up the conventions of drawing-room bridge evenings as their deadly weapons. Things finally come to a head with Miss Mapp's audacious attempt to steal her rival's celebrated Lobster a la Riseholme. E.F. Benson's charming satrical bent turns the pretensions and snobberies of English village life into a vicious comedy.
First in a trilogy, Merry Hall is the account of the restoration of a house and garden in post-war England. Though Mr. Nichols's horticultural undertaking is serious, his writing is high-spirited, riotously funny, and, at times, deliciously malicious.