Thursday, May 20, 2010

Paradise For Two--Discussion Thread

Prudence Makepeace is such a wonderful name. It is all kinds of Scarlet Letter--tres' Puritan. The Founding Bettys are of Puritan stock themselves, descended from 5 generations of women named Mindwell. Mindwell Dewey's husband (the last Mindwell of our relation) Major Wait Hopkins, member of the Green Mountain Boys, was scalped by dastardly Tories during the unpleasantness of the Revolution. It's a grisly story of a picnic outing (on an island), an ambush and scalping. Then the dastards (history's word, not mine) left a baby alive (kind of them) attached to his dead mother's breast. Ew. I lobbied hard to name my daughter Mindwell but Minjheer van Voorhees didn't find the story as charming as I did...[Betty Debbie] I'm campaigning for Mindwell as a granddaughter's middle name - I may have a long wait.

Walter the Objectionable tells Prudence that a woman's place is in the home. 'But whereabouts in the home? Lying at ease on a chaise lounge in the drawing-room, covered in jewels and pure silk would be nice...' Forgive me for finding Prudence's imagination limited. Jewels? Yawn. Silk? Ho-hum. Give me two uninterrupted days to clean the house and keep it that way. That's luxury. Even so, Walter is a dingus. 'Hey, Pru, old girl. You should marry me so I can save you from being an old maid and you can spend every waking hour seeing to my needs...' Pass. Three weeks until the annual church Father and Sons that's heaven. Having the house to myself for an evening, night and morning. But then, the woman's place is in the laundry. Kidding. Dr. van der Stevejinck is more than capable of washing his own clothes. So are the "sons" part of Father and Sons.

Prudence feels a little bad for Walter when she corners him about his intentions as "stockbrokers don't like to be rushed". Is that true, one wonders? Bankers wouldn't like to be rushed, but the conventional image of the NYSE trading floor is not one of patient moderation. In my experience code monkeys don't like to be rushed...and neither do engineers...

Prudence can eat whatever she wants without gaining an ounce. That's how you know it's fiction.

Aunt Bea has a mountain of luggage....even a trunk that takes 2 men to lift it. Like a "royal progress". I can't remember a Neels heroine over-packing. Even the wealthy ones tend to skimp as though traveling light were a moral virtue. I am a very streamlined traveler (though four children does complicate that some) and rarely check luggage. Where do you fall in the Neels Travel Continuum? Aunt Bea (old enough to carry her home with her) or Worldly Villainess (slinky lurex dresses don't take up much space but cosmetics do) or Daisy Rose Dawlish Darling (uncrushable jersey dress, lipstick, undies (!) and a dusting of powder)? I am definitely a light packer. Especially if Dr. van der Stevejinck isn't there to be my luggage jockey.

When Prudence and the courtesy aunts go to Guernsey, they stay at a nice hotel. There is a definite pecking order about who gets what kind of room.

  • rich widowed courtesy aunts each have large rooms with a sea view.
  • Prudence the unpaid nurse/goddaughter has a smaller room on the same floor. View not specified.
  • the two maids get to share a room upstairs. View not specified - probably overlooks the dustbins.


  1. I hadn't read "Paradise for Two" in quite a while - and while I remembered the names and some of the plot, the personalities were a bit vague. Some books like that will improve on re-reading...sadly this did not, for me.

  2. Jewels? Silk? Two uninterrupted days to clean the house? Who ya kidding? I'd settle for five minutes "to avail myself of the facilities of the water closet" without the door being banged on accompanied by a whine of "MO-O-OMMY!"--Or worse, a loud thwack. Wait for it. Blood-curdling scream.

  3. I think I liked Prudence better than the Founding Bettys; however, I did think that her reluctance to go back with him to nurse his mommy on a peritonitis deathbed, especially after she had already discovered she was in love with him, to be a bit churlish (I know, I know, unpaid nursing).

    But you have to admit that his under-his-breath comment of "Fifteen All" was unexpected and darn funny.

    I agree that the ending roses, diamonds (and sapphires), and champagne, especially since foreshadowed, was a bit abrupt, but I was more disappointed (and I do think it would have made the book) to not learn what he said in Dutch, as the gardener, when he first saw her. I think we should run a contest on it.

  4. Betty Debbie have been reviewing a lot of books these days and are constantly surprised at what we find with a closer reading. If asked before, I would have said that 'Paradise For Two' was in my positive to neutral camp (others have gone from totally hated to marginally respected during the note-taking and dissecting process). It's interesting that this went the other way...

  5. I enjoyed your review! I just finished reading "Paradise for Two" and I found her constant "peevishness" too much to take. By the time she realized she loved him and stopped being so angry, he stopped trying to be friendly and I wondered what would make them even WANT to be together.