Mrs Ames is a delightful novel dealing with the dynamics of married life and the usual social one-upmanships that have been wittily portrayed in Benson's Mapp and Lucia novels. However, this novel delves into the more serious topic of marital infidelity and Benson's touch is therefore more sympathetic and introspective. Published in 1912, it predates the first of the highly popular Mapp and Lucia novels by eight years but one can already see Benson's trademark observances of day-to-day petty preoccupations and rivalries between neighbours.
This novel is set in a hilly Kentish village named Riseborough and we are introduced to a group of characters (indeed mostly all married couples) who are largely retired and who fill their days with the three G's: golf, gardening and gossip - and relentless stabs at social supremacy. The undisputed doyenne of the village social scene is Mrs Amy Ames, a fifty-something lady married to a Major ten years her junior. With a son at Cambridge, and obscure connections to royalty, Mrs Ames sets an example which all follow... until the recently arrived doctor's wife, the dubiously shy Mrs Evans, takes an interest in Major Lyndhurst Percy Ames and unintentionally begins to usurp the throne.