Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Girl in a MIllion--Discussion Thread

  • Similar names. I have always maintained that the one thing stopping me from really diving into classic Russian literature are the names. When reading, my brain does a little short-hand and will read the following sentence (Pyotr Pyotrovsky and Petya Pyotrslav visited St. Petersburg...) thus: P.P and P.P visited St. P's... See. It doesn't really work. The names are long and difficult (for me--I have no ear for them) and are a little too similar to make 700 pages (Boy, the Russian classicists weren't brief, were they?) a comfortable slog. And it really is a shame because with some Brocks and Tiffanys and Georges sprinkled in there, I think I could manage it. Anyway, Neels does this a teeny tiny bit when she names our hero Marius van Houben and his tiny relative Marc van Houben. (mentally, that's M. vH. and M. vH.) Also, our heroine is Caroline and Marius's cousin is Corinna...C. and C. (--shoot. Velvet Elvis is singing in my head now.) Would it be too, too OCD if I took a bottle of white-out and renamed everybody? [Betty Debbie] Thank you. This is a pet peeve of mine - having characters with names that are similar.
  • When Marc gets out of hospital they take him on the airplane to Holland, then an ambulance from the airport to home. An ambulance? Was there no great, socking Bentley at hand?
  • I owe my increasing respect for the work of anesthesiologists to The Venerable Neels. I don't think I even gave them a thought before Betty and if I did, I certainly didn't think it required any particular skills to put someone under--securing masks and counting backwards from 10 figured highly on my list of must-haves. Foolish Betty Keira. Marius is an anesthesiologist and good thing too or little Marc might have not made it. I'm still a little sketchy as to why the doping made all the difference but I'll take Betty's word for it that the scalpel and knife were secondary considerations to his successful surgery. My own four births (happily drugged) should have taught me that it is more an art than a science. I'm all in favor of good anesthesiologists - a good one makes the pain disappear...a bad one doesn't. I've been fortunate enough to have some very good experiences with anesthesiologists (except for the unfortunate incident of setting my broken wrist while only having "conscious sedation")
  • One of the most charming bits in A Girl in a Million is the pretty, rustic summer-house that swivels towards the sun or shade. First question: What kind of ball bearing system do they have on that thing? Does it rust over winter? Does it just take a little squirt of WD-40 to get it ship-shape again? Second Question: Where on earth did Betty find one? Can you order them in a kit? What's the confirmation number on my order? When can I expect it to arrive?
  • But seriously, the only large scale thing I can relate it to is the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle.
  • What a week for measles. This time Caroline catches them from a Cas patient. She had them as a young child (light case). I thought it was like chicken pox--once you've had it you're immunized. But come to that, I've had chicken pox twice...the second time was in middle school all over my face and head...because the universe wasn't satisfied with giving me head gear and glasses. The Great Betty usually has characters suffer them at home--which makes sense as the infection rate is around 90% if you've never had them before. But this time, Caro is on a ward for two weeks. I wonder how many theoretical Women's Medical patients had to suffer just so Betty could have an excuse to have Marius send Caro flowers. A Girl in a Million was written in prevalent were measles in the UK then?
  • Robert the Red Herring tells Caroline that no one will be upset if he takes her out, "I'm engaged to a girl in Birmingham...She wouldn't mind me being friendly with you." Of all the dirty cracks...Don't do me any favors, buddy. Ditto.

1 comment:

  1. Even though the plot of this book is a bit forgettable, I remember this book because of the hovering red ball on the cover of my edition (Best of BN). That hovering red ball has always struck me as odd - therefore, memorable. There is a scene in the book where a ball is being tossed - I'm sure that is the direct reference. Perhaps there is a double meaning...the red ball standing for the red Koplik's Spots?