Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Hasty Marriage - 1977 Discussion Thread

Marry in haste, repent at leisure. Reilof has a lot of repenting to do.
[Betty Debbie] I'd like to point out that we here at The Uncrushable Jersey Dress strive for only the best illustrations for our posts...and when we can't find them, we make them.
What makes Laura really work for me is the mental scorecard she keeps.
"Wretch...ill-tempered, arrogant wretch - just let him wait until we're married!" and later...
"..a resolve, a little vague as yet, took shape in the back of her head that one day he should eat his words."
Reilof is gonna pay. And he's gonna keep on paying. Laura has marital currency to last a lifetime. He may think he's the boss, but once he falls for Laura, he has to realize what a cad he's been. One of the biggest cads in Neeldom. There are only one or two that out-cad him. I have to admit, cads are a lot of fun to write about.

What redeems him for me is that fateful week. The week he has to sweat. The week he spends looking for Laura. The week he earns some new wrinkles, and some dye-resistant grey hair. The week that zombie-bride Joyce has her last zombie-bride moment and throws yet one more zombie spanner in the works - not telling Reilof that she saw Laura in England.
Let's talk about Joyce for a minute. Laura seems to passively give way to her, just because Joyce is so pretty. [Betty Keira] Like when I was a baby and you totally spoiled me, Betty Debbie because I was angelically beautiful...[Betty Debbie]that would make you the evil younger sister. Maybe I was/am the evil older sister. After all, I did teach you the lyrics to "Play that Funky Music, White Boy" when you were 3 years old, thus blighting your existence. I want to know why Neels heroines cut so much slack for their evil sister/cousin/widowed mother? I'd like to think it's giving them enough rope to hang themselves...but that is so seldom the case. Laura's punishment in this case is...being married to the rich tubby American with cardiac problems. I love that in all his tastelessness he even has the poor judgment of having bad veins. But, being American, he only got what he deserved. Larry the American. (I dated a Larry once...except for being skinny and a poor college student, he was just like Joyce's Larry - it's one of those names). I once had a stalker named Larry (8th grade). In case he Googles his name I'll just say his last name sounded suspiciously like Earwig. Larry Earwig. Short, chubby, near-sighted...Yes, it is one of those names. In Laura's eye's, Larry dying could be a good thing, you know she won't grieve for Larry if he just so happens to pop off, without so much as a pre-nup. She'll be right back to her Zombie Bride-ishness. She'd probably move to Holland and be invited to all the same parties as Reilof and Laura. She would also conveniently forget to drive her own car so that Reilof has to spend hours taking her back home. Dead zombies never die.
While on their "not quite a honeymoon", Laura makes a reference to the balcony scene from "Private Lives". Here's a clip. That's just the cutest thing.

Let's talk kisses. That's right, kisses. The Venerable Neels had quite a predilection for heroes swooping in and giving the girl an unexpected kiss. She had just a few types of kisses (a few more than her character types...maybe).

  • the brotherly or avuncular peck on the cheek. I think that would be hard to pull off in the U.S. of A. We are generally not a cheek kissing people.
  • the tender kiss when the heroine is sleeping...possibly sleeping off her dose of medicinal brandy Points given if she has tear-stained cheeks or is gently snoring.
  • a quick, hard kiss. (I always think, "ouch, take it easy!")
  • the swooper. (as in: he "swoops and he kisses") I once had a very short date swoop in for a kiss. Fellas, let me tell you. If a girl is leaning that far back it doesn't mean "Come hither."
  • social kiss ("as long as we're passing them around....")
  • thorough. (no half measures here!) If I've come to the ballpark I want to play ball...
  • very satisfactory. What do you find satisfactory?? Passing a test is satisfactory, failing it is not... Crispy croutons are satisfactory as are gallons of paint, flossed teeth and adequate hemlines.
Teaser: Coming in Thursday's review...an evil older sister...That's right. You won't have evil younger sisters to kick around anymore...Mwa ha ha...


  1. I have an evil older sister, whose name I will not write here, lest *she* google herself. I'll call her Earwig Ann. (LOL)

    Here's my problem with this book. I don't like that Laura and Reilof's happiness relies on the stupidity of Joyce in picking Larry. (Whose name reminds me of Leisure Suit Larry, a very very early computer game. Hands up of everyone who remembers Leisure Suit Larry. O-kay then.)

    Usually, in a Neels book, the hero has matters almost completely in hand. Oh, he'll have a momentary whiff of doubt that maybe she is actually better off with Blandly Pleasant, the younger but duller houseman/brotherly type, or that she might actually be falling for the oily charm of Smarmy Cadd-van-Creeplijk, but we all know that the hero won't actually risk losing her.

    Here -- he not doesn't see Laura's value, he doesn't care! Does not care. I'm not sure he's good enough for her. There. I said it. Only, then I think what a doormat Laura is and, okay they belong together. And the Blue Pool is nice. And I do like a Neels hero who has to wallow, metaphorically (if not actually), in his own blue pool if you see what I mean.

    Great discussion, as always, Bettys!

  2. I think that the worry he has over Jan helps me over the rough patch of his failing to see her sterling qualities. If you consider, he actually doesn't take too long to wise up (if we're dating his dawning realization from the car smash-up (I don't think I'll ever be able to say 'wreck' again)) and all his discomfort thereon comes from being horribly jealous of Jan. And though I would have liked him to slap Zombie Joyce across the face I've just decided that he didn't care a ha-penny damn about her anymore--surely not enough to do it. And he get to live forever after experiencing white-hot chills when he thinks of how narrowly he avoided a zombie doom.

  3. Oh, and if you want a proper British word (well, acronym) you can say RTA for "road traffic accident."

    And has anyone else noticed that Betty Neels rarely (or maybe never) actually uses the word "cancer" -- it's always a CA (for carcinoma).

  4. I've seen the RTA acronym used a lot...and I just put my own words to it "routine traffic accident" - which doesn't really make sense, since people being brought to Cas sometimes have some horrific injuries. Not very routine.

    I did figure out the CA - but I could never figure out why she'd call it that instead of cancer...did they talk like that? Maybe the doctors and nurses talked in code so their patients wouldn't know they were dying. In Neels the patients are never given the bad news - it's always kept from them. Shhh. Don't tell.

  5. Love the illustrations - they are wonderful!

    Also, I was feeling inspired after reading your reviews and couldn't resist picking up some Betty Neels at the library sale.

  6. Betty Debbie -- Well, if we do the time-warp thing and remember that a lot of Betty Neels' experience as a nurse and as the wife of a sick husband was 20 years before her books, then yeah, I think "cancer" was pretty close to synonymous with "death sentence." Plus the Brits are pretty mealy-mouthed in certain areas!

    Today, the medical ethics of her books are about as realistic as the spinelessness (oh, sorry -- good manners) of her heroines. These days, we learn we have cancer as soon as possible so that we can fight it. And we kick nasty types like Joyce to the curb (or kerb) as soon as we see how miserable they're going to make us and the hero!

    (I just had an image of a Betty Neels heroine with karate skills. I like it!)

  7. One of my only TWO Neels books has a doctor with CA being treated by the hero. And the heroine drives the sick (but we hope recovering older doctor and his wife) to Holland. And guess what they give her for a thank you gift? A HUGE box of Elizabeth Arden cosmetics. My great-aunt used to give EA to everyone at Christmas.

    Bring on ebil older sister: can't wait!!

  8. Sounds like one of yours is "Winter Wedding" Janet. Do so love that a massive box of cosmetics. There is nothing that Elizabeth Arden couldn't make better.

  9. I’m late to this discussion because I only procured a copy of the book at Goodwill this weekend. I can’t believe I am stating this about a Neels book (and am sure that I never have before), this book stunk. Laura the Martyr is wimpy and insufferable while being long-suffering (hey, where’s that British Phlegm?). Usually Neels’s heroines who are Ward Sisters are feisty and give as good as they get (and the older they are the more fun—“looking thirty in the face”!--aaaaaggghhhh).Worse than that is the sorry excuse for a male, Reilof—stupid, nasty, cruel, with no hint of a sense of humor (contrast with Jonkheer Marnix for later this week). I found myself cheering for Zombie Bride to rescue Laura the Martyr by stealing back Reilof the Terrible. I decided by the end that Laura the Martyr would have been better off with Larry the American. Now, if she had drowned Reilof the Terrible in the Blue Pool, we might have had something (whip the cream). Run, Laura, run!!! You add a turban and a head of celery, and this is definitely tinned soup.

  10. Hey, does anyone have the copy of "The Hasty Marriage" that spells Reilof as "Reiloff" (with two "f"'s) on the back cover? See, even the Harlequin typesetters hated him.

  11. I don't really take issue with your perspective, Betty JoDee. The Hasty Marriage is a bit of an outlier for Betty Neels and wouldn't be for everyone. But, for me, being what it is and accepting it, I think the writing is good.

  12. Just finished A hasty Marriage and I loved the part where Truus and Piet show Laura the and Laura knows that they expect her to fill it with...well...babies. Implied future tense relations again.