Thursday, May 6, 2010

Philomena's Miracle--Discussion Thread

We meet Philomena while she's quietly cheering her win as Gold Medallist of her year. (This reminds me of Anne of Green Gables.) I don't think she's the only Gold Medallist in Neelsdom--Rose Comely was one too, if memory serves. Sadly, the requirement is plainness and an inability to be asked out (any distracted) by junior housemen. [Betty Debbie] It seems like nearly all of the poor English nurse heroines in Neeldom are the Gold Medallist of their year.

Philly writes Walle a note thanking him for a ride home and lunch. The porter disapproves of nurses writing notes to senior staff! No, no, she assures him. It's just a 'bread and butter letter'. I love that phrase. Both Betty Debbie and I write 'Mommy blogs' as well as this one. The quality and frequency of our posts has fallen off dramatically since falling into the vortex of The Uncrushable Jersey Dress--strictly of the bread and butter variety. "Little Johnny van Voorhees has been to the dentist. Here is a picture...zzzzzzz." In the words of Inigo Montoya "I do not think that means, what you think it means." I've run across the phrase "bread and butter letter" in books by other authors. A bread and butter letter is a thank you letter - the type you write after a lovely dinner or overnight visit. I am sadly dilatory in that department. I prefer to show my thanks by doing something like painting Betty Keira's bathroom...

The cover of Philomena's Miracle is one of the most easily remembered of the Neels canon. She is wearing trousers (!) and they are playing a game of croquet--a game that oozes domesticity and good lawn care. He is wearing what looks to be scrubs with a dentist's examination coat over the top. He also looks like the villain (see right) from Top Secret. But I do like her deep comb over...Can we insert a picture of Ian Carmichael or Rutger Hauer or....any other blonde man? The blonde dentist look is just plain bad.

Beautiful step-sister Chloe gets the chicken pox and is in hiding because of the rash. As I have mentioned before, I am one of those unfortunates who got chicken pox twice in my life. In Chloe's defense, chicken pox bumps are not 'acne but brighter'. The marks were huge. I looked like a leper and, as I said, it's not like I had a severe case. Still, I just adore that Philomena isn't going to mope that Walle won't come find her or that he doesn't love her anymore or that he would stop loving her if she was the one with pock marks. Step-mama's admission that Chloe had to work very hard to get her boyfriend to the point of proposal is just the icing on the cake.

Lifts. She meets him by a lift and then tells him that no one but staff should use them because they're liable to break down if overloaded. This is not the first book that mentions broken elevators and irrational fear thereof. I wonder if Betty ever got caught in an elevator? Another in a long list of questions to ask any of her relatives we come across.

Philomena's Miracle and Tabitha By Moonlight are quite similar (Philly doesn't have an unreasonable attachment to real estate in quite the same way). But I like Philomena a little better than Tabitha--she gives herself a makeover, isn't quite so squashed by horrid steps, and has absolute trust in her man (as soon as she gets him). Philly's steps are not so horrible...except that it seems like La Neels forgot that they're not supposed to be so horrible when Chloe gets chicken-pox. It's like they have different personalities for a little while.

When proposing, Walle tells Philly that he's noticed every change she's made and every outfit she's trotted out. I am put in mind of a river crossing, where broad stepping stones have been laid at intervals. The Mighty Betty has plonked down insufficient stones for me, her reader, not to get a soaking. Walle has told her that she needs to take dress and make-up tips from the villainess so, I do not buy his professed attention to her details. The scene where he suggests that she "do something" to her hair, make-up, clothes, is a little jarring...especially since Walle goes on to say that Tritia the Rude suggested it. I do love how seething mad it makes Philly.