The short story, “Lucia and the Diplomatic Incident,” by British novelist Tom Holt, is a fresh new adventure in the Lucia and Mapp series based on the novels of E.F. Benson. It is currently only available as a Kindle Single, priced at $.99. Until now it has appeared in print only once, in the Benson Society Magazine in 1997.
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Tom Holt’s two full-length novels in the Lucia and Mapp series are already available from Coffeetown Press. They are the only officially sanctioned sequels featuring E.F. Benson’s delightful social-climbing characters. Lucia in Wartime ($13.95/£9.99, 216 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-129-3) and Lucia Triumphant ($14.95/£10.99, 262 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-126-2), were first published in 1985 and 1986, respectively. The cover images are by one of the original cover illustrators, Marie Michal.
In “Lucia and the Diplomatic Incident,” Elizabeth Mapp has returned to the small town of Tilling, England, as if from the wars—pale and wan and mysterious. Finally her friends drag the secret out of her in painstaking detail. A “small but adequate” legacy allowed Elizabeth to spend three weeks in Venice, Italy, and she has returned a heroine. During a dramatic ferry accident she rescued an Italian child, which earned her a stay in the hospital with double pneumonia and the eternal gratitude of the Italian government. Lucia, who reigned as Queen during Elizabeth’s absence, is not at all happy to see her social rival steal not only her own adopted country, but the social spotlight and the hearts of all Tilling.
But oh … all is not what it seems, and if anyone can get to the bottom of it, it is Lucia!
When first released, Tom Holt’s Lucia and Mapp novels were enthusiastically received:
“Might have been dreamt up by Benson,” wrote The Spectator. “Tom Holt has provided manna.”
The Oxford Mail wrote: “The period is caught with remarkable skill. Equally well captured is the spirit of Benson’s six Lucia novels.”
“[Holt] never lets us forget that the people even at their most absurd are human and vulnerable,” wrote the Daily Telegraph. “I thought, after six Benson novels and two TV serializations, that I was tired of Tilling—but I laid this book aside with real regret.”
Tom Holt was born in 1961 in London, England. His first book, Poems By Tom Holt, was published when he was twelve years old. While he was still a student at Oxford he wrote two sequels to E.F. Benson’s Lucia series. After an undistinguished seven-year stint as a lawyer, he became a full-time writer in 1995 and has published over thirty novels. Tom lives with his wife and daughter in the west of England. As well as writing, he raises pigs and pedigree Dexter cattle. For more information, go to tomholt.coffeetownpress.com.