by E.F. Benson
New York: Bloomsbury, 2010 (originally printed in 1912).
In the small English town of Riseborough, Mrs. Ames holds sway over the fashions and practices of the populace. What has her neighbors abuzz this time? She's invited a husband or a wife to a dinner party, separate from their partner. But things go greatly awry when both her husband and her son begin to have an interest in one of the singly-invited women, Mrs. Evans.
This is the sort of gentle read that those who appreciate the characters and interactions of a story like Cranford may enjoy. There's not a lot of plot action outside of the day to day life of middle aged married people, which sounds boring, but really isn't. The delivery of the thoughts of the Althams, the Ames', and more of the characters, amused me and made me laugh aloud at times; their interactions were gossipy and politely insulting and true.
E.F. Benson is perhaps better known for his Mapp and Lucia series. I enjoyed the humor of Mrs. Ames enough to make me want to read his other books as well.