Monday, March 22, 2010

Stormy Springtime - Discussion Thread

[Betty Keira] You know, when I fell in love with my husband he was in exactly that position...

I was happy that Mrs. Culver appreciated Meg's ancestral home. Before remarking on the elegance of the Adam fireplace, however, she "didn't seem put off by the bathroom pipes." You'll never make me believe she really and truly likes outdated plumbing. There is nothing more likely to put me off a house than outdated plumbing.

When Meg takes over the housekeeping, she trots off to the shops and buys herself not only a suitable grey dress, she also gets herself some "overalls". I know, I know...her overalls are not the same as the Osh Kosh B'Gosh ones that my kids used to wear, but that's what comes to mind for a brief second. (Here's a fun music video featuring overalls - and tams. Warning: the lyrics are a bit "Brightonish", but they are almost impossible to make out) Guess what will be stuck in my head all day. ;0)

Meg's sisters try and strong-arm her into buying a semi-basement flat in London. Dr. van der Stevejinck and I set up housekeeping in a semi-basement. We weren't on a busy street, and we didn't have net curtains...thank goodness. This is the same apartment that had no kitchen counters. Not only was it a semi-basement, it was only half a semi-basement (We had the right hand semi-basement, Marianne Barker and her husband had the left). Our living room was actually quite spacious...it had to be, since we had a Murphy bed that pulled down from a cupboard that was between the two semi-basements. It was the old fashioned kind with metal springs. Squeaky metal springs. How difficult for implied past tense conjugal relations...

Oh the many layers of Betty. I can't tell you how much I love that Meg names the battered, one-eyed alley cat "Nelson". I feel a little sorry for the dog. "Lucky" just isn't in it compared to "Nelson".
Nelson is very nearly on par with William and Mary for pet names. I wonder if this Nelson was borne up to Mount Olympus on the arms of the immortals too...







When Mr. and Mrs. Pitt stop by to indulge in a little emergency childbirth, Meg runs into her bedroom and throws a sheet over the bedclothes, piles blankets on a chair and shuts the animals in the kitchen - before getting Doctor Culver. I got to talking to Betty Keira about it...between the two of us, we've been through the process ten times. I think Meg missed an opportunity...instead of throwing a sheet over the bedclothes, she should have first thrown a waterproof shower curtain. Birthin' babies is a messy business - I would definitely want something waterproof between my mattress and the inevitable mess...If ever I am called on to assist a birth, I have Betty Debbie to thank for the clean-ish mop-up that will follow. I can't wait to apply my new-found knowledge!

Finally....Stormy Springtime is not appreciated by all. While that does make me a little sad, I do understand that not everyone gets Betty. Left to my own devices, I doubt if I would have persevered past the first couple that Betty Keira loaned me. Fortunately, Betty Keira and I talked about the books - what we liked, what we didn't like...having someone else to talk me through the inexplicable swooping kisses, plump heroines and Dutch-i-ness helped immeasurably. So glad you persevered, Betty Debbie. I was going to make you love Neels or die trying. I get that Betty Neels is just not everyone's thing but I think there are far, far worse heroes to lambaste--even far worse Neels heroes if you like. Ralph (gag) is just too fabulous for words and you've missed something if you don't see that Meg isn't being meek because he's signaling that he likes meek women. She's meek because he senses something's afoot when she's being so and he can't help but notice her. Meg is brilliant.

Stormy Springtime has a lot to say about how awful the world of Real Estate is. Much like wedding planners, I imagine that those involved in showing homes or arranging mortgages have to walk a very precarious tight-rope around people who may burst into tears at any time. Also, does anyone else think it's strange that Mrs. Culver doesn't have a family home to live in? Why was she looking for a house? What happened to her old one? Did they find toxic mold in the basements?

7 comments:

  1. I haven't read this Neels yet, but I do think Nelson is a fantastic one-eyed cat name! I'm now paying special attention to the pet names because I'm trying to come up with a name for the tailless wonder that appeared on my deck last week.

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  2. Rumkin -- according to Chambers, it's a tailless fowl.

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  3. Hmm...Rumkin the cat. That could work!

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  4. I like Stormy Springtime and have read it several times over the years, but each time I do, I find there are a couple of knotty things I just can't reconcile myself to.

    First, the number of times Ralph has the Blonde Tartlett down to the manor for the weekend and they go zipping past Meg as she grubs in the garden. I believe he even has her down after that awful scene when she and that other drip enter Meg's cottage and insult her. (Correct me if I'm wrong on that.) It never ceases to amaze me that the heroes get engaged to, or continue to date these absolute horrors - what do they see in them and what can they possibly have to talk about with them? I know, I know, Betty's kind, selfless and courageous heroines always outshine these witches by contrast and win the heart and hand of the hero in the end.

    Second, the trip to Holland. I know Meg goes in the capacity of a housekeeper to fill in for granny's housekeeper, but she seems so bogged down in the minutia of running the house and preparing the meals. She has the lighting tour of the museums, etc. and I believe she takes herself on a quick boat tour of the canals, but other than that, the trip is pure drudgery for her. I guess I always had higher hopes for the trip with regard to she and Ralph's prospects and that doesn't change each time I read it.

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  5. I find that if I think of Unexplained Blonde Tartlet as a distant cousin then it gets me over the obvious head-smacking idocy of Ralph when she's at his house that very last time. She would never fit in with his friends so she must be a relative!

    Also, I kinda like Holland (agreeing that it is a bit of a let down) because he had been trying to get something accomplished in their relationship ("I can see this was a mistake...") but fails at it. He's also driven more insane by her. I do love a thwarted Ralph.

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  6. Thanks, Betty Keira, it helps to think of the Blonde as a distant cousin and that Ralph is simply biding time (as a lot of our Neels' heroes are) while waiting for the right girl to come along.

    Did I mention that I adore Ralph? He's magnificent and you wonder what Betty was thinking when she saddled him with that name. We do know what she was thinking when she had Meg employ her meek strategy, though, and it was quite brilliant. We feel his tension and frustration with her. I do love this story!

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  7. I liked this story too, mostly because I liked reading about Ralph Culver losing his heart to Meg. Of all the Betty heroes I've read about, I think he was definitely lost. While he was a brilliant radiologist, his personal life had been filled with such horrible, demanding shrews for so long he had no peace of mind. While he continued to resist the attraction he felt for our heroine, how many times in this book did he make reference to Meg being restful? She caught him completely unawares by not demanding anything. Brilliant!

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