There is some irony in the fact that Benson, the creator of everything from plays to sober biographies, is best remembered for his series of "Lucia" novels, delicious satires of the pretensions and foibles of provincial middle-class life in Britain in the 1920s and '30s. Still, given Benson's droll send-ups of the bitter battles waged by matrons desperate to live out their fantastical versions of upper-class elegance and wit, and his shrewd readings of the ways in which our longings can make us both bizarre and sometimes appealing, it's very likely an irony he would have savored. His six novels chronicling the rise and fall and rise ad infinitum of Mrs. Emmeline Lucas of Riseholm are now being reissued as trade paperbacks. Queen Lucia, the first in the series, follows Mrs. Lucas ('Lucia' to her most intimate friends) through a lengthy and often hilarious campaign to derail the career of a would-be rival to the throne of cultural arbiter. The plot, however, is less important than the pratfalls. The six Lucia novels form a kind of epic portrait of striving gone mod, and it's good to have them appearing once again.