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Paying Guests

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  23 reviews
We are at Wentworth, a guest house in the fictional town of Bolton Spa, which offers baths and nasty-smelling waters to a group of permanent invalids. Wentworth is terribly genteel, recognized not only for the comfort it offers but also for the social standing of its guests. Who this being a Benson novel are silly at best, stupendously annoying at worst. The stars of the ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 27th 1987 by The Hogarth Press (first published 1929)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  169 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Sep 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
"Bolton Spa is infamous for two things: the nauseating quality of its brine and the parsimony of its boarding houses. Exceptional is the Wentworth. Every summer this luxurious establishment is full of paying guests come to sample the waters, the constant hot meals, the happy family atmosphere. The register reveals a chronicle of acrimony and arthritis. There is Mrs Bliss, limping violently, who proclaims Mind the Omnipotent cure; Mr Kemp, a raving hypochondriac, persecuting his beleaguered ...more
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 * A fine book for passing the time. Funny and light. Don't let my lowish rating fool you, sometimes a book that helps relax and entertain is exactly what I'm in desperate need of.Not everything needs to be deep and profound to be good. E. F. Benson is an author whose books I will always be interested in reading.
Jul 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Benson, the son of an Archbishop of Canterbury (who built the Cathedral in Truro, Cornwall), and the brother of some serious clerics, is unlike his brothers, a hoot. Everybody knows this from the Lucia series, but for anyone who's ever stayed at a B&B or rooming house, this may be funnier. Benson wrote almost a hundred books, including three or four biographies and memoirs; one tells of Queen Victoria's visit to their home. EFB will never be "taught" in colleges, and that raises questions ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
What happens to social satire when time and change erase the very characters being satirized? In this case, the humor remains. A number of people stay at an upscale boarding house at an English health resort. The main characters include a self-important retired colonel, a hypochondriac parasite and his put-upon daughter, the devotee of a religion that believes in Mind above all things, and a middle aged spinster with an interest in the arts. Benson's gentle touch leaves them all happier in the ...more
Pat Newman
I am not reading this book and cannot find out how to delete it from my list.
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A typical Bensonian romp complete with outrageously unlikeable characters, in spite of whom you can't wait to read on. If you are a Lucia fan, do read this!
Whistlers Mom
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
E. F. Benson was a prolific writer, publishing his first (very successful) novel in 1893 and keeping up an incredible pace until his death in 1940. He's best know for his "Lucia" books and for his paranormal short stories, but he wrote many novels and I think this is one of his best.

In 1929, there was no AirBNB, but there were plenty of "guest houses" where the moderately well-to-do could enjoy a short vacation or settle in for a longer stay. Wentworth is located in Bolton Spa, where the
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such fun! Not quite as tart as Mapp and Lucia but nevertheless an entertaining account of the inhabitants of Wentworth, a superior boarding house in a provincial spa town.

The foibles and failings of a variety of characters- a choleric colonel, a hypochondriac, some gushing spinsters among them - are cleverly depicted.

The pretensions of the middle classes and minor aristocracy are firmly dealt with and a few shots are aimed at Christian Science, art criticism and musical snobbery.

A good light
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
This took a long time for me to complete. Some passages in novels bog me down and I cannot get through three paragraphs without losing interest. This isn't one of E.F. Benson's best; the point of attracting my fascination is the introduction of a romance between two guests, and the end is mean-spirited. The mean-spiritedness hopscotches from beginning to end, but it's clunky and awkward, and the capriciousness of some characters is unsupported by established traits.
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-f-benson, 2020-read
I found this book delightful; nearly as enjoyable as the "Mapp and Lucia" books, but not quite. For sure, there are a number of similar characters and situations. This helps pick up the slack in between "Lucia" readings!
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you like the PG Wodehouse Bertie and Jeeves books, youll probably like this one, too. ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic, hilarious, ef-b
Mr Benson, you did it again - minimal plot, maximal enjoyment.
Chris Passingham
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this as a prototype for the Mapp and Lucia series. Miss Howard was obviously an early version of Lucia and most of the other characters were recognisable as well.
Anna Gordon
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 16, 2010 added it
Shelves: fiction
Bolton Spa lacks the inimitable Lucia, but the remarkable Col. Chase (Indian Army, ret'd) makes up for it.
Elizabeth (Betty) Thomsen
Paying Guests by E. F. Benson (1984)
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I just can't resist British wit. Loved it.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: uk, 2011
Not quite as good as the Lucia books, but still very enjoyable.
Aug 12, 2012 added it
Not the same book I had in mind - however, E. F. Benson is quite an entertaining author. Will keep looking for the other book.
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Definitely light-hearted. Liked the old-fashioned style of writing and there were several words I had to look up because they just aren't used anymore.
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good story, though left a bit hanging at the end. Just a bit though. It was interesting to read the period details of London after World War I.
Pip Jennings
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nothing to say. Pure Joy!!
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Edward Frederic "E. F." Benson was an English novelist, biographer, memoirist, archaeologist and short story writer.

E. F. Benson was the younger brother of A.C. Benson, who wrote the words to "Land of Hope and Glory", Robert Hugh Benson, author of several novels and Roman Catholic apologetic works, and Margaret Benson, an author and amateur Egyptologist.

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