Monday, May 17, 2010

The Quiet Professor - Discussion Thread

I think I like this book a little more than Betty Keira, the Melanie/Oscar storyline may be lame, but I find that I don't really pay much attention to it. Well, not too much. Okay, okay, I do find Melanie more than a bit soppy.

Melanie is the kind of girl who makes her own gloves. I think that fact sums her up more than anything. Nothing says "I'm determined to be a homebody" like homemade gloves. Not only does she make her own gloves, but she is also a marvelous needlewoman (probably samplers with sayings like "There's No Place Like Home"), she paints (I'm imagining tole painted clocks...not landscapes) and draws (improbably fairies, I'll bet)... plus she's good cook, helps Mum around the house AND arranges flowers at church. How insufferable. She deserves Oscar.

Professor van Belfeld is some kind of awesome. Not only does he drop by for visits at the semi-basement, but he's also friendly with the natives...which in this case is a group of small boys - he constantly lets small boys sit in his Rolls to 'watch it' for an hour at a time. And then gives them some small change. Now that's a man who knows how to behave around boys!

The pub near the hospital is named the Pot and Feather...??? Sounds like Betty picked it using the Random Pub Name Generator. Let's just rename it "The Uncrushable Pot and Feather".

In Neeldom, mothers (or aunts, or great-aunts...) send our heroines back to London with a cake pretty darn often. Even if the cake is somewhat along the lines of a pound cake, it's still got to be a little awkward to carry. Especially when taking public transportation.

Megan and the Professor both do some gardening. I'm pretty impressed by all the digging and weeding accomplished - and would like to hire them to work in my garden which is sadly in need of some TLC (and not likely to get any until school is out). Speaking of gardens, there is a revolving chalet in the garden at the orphanage. We recently ran across another mention of a revolving summerhouse in A Girl in a Million. After finally finding a picture of something that might possibly look something like, I think I see that appeal. On warm spring days, you could turn the chalet to face the sun, on hot summer days, you could turn it away from the sun...on windy days I assume you could turn it so as to be out of the wind...but I do wonder if it would continue to turn on its own? In any event, it looks like fun. I'll bet if I show this to Dr. van der Stevejinck he would fall in love with it...after all, that rotating base would be like a siren song to an engineer...

Professor van Belfeld is a man of parts. Not only can he make toast (and presumably tea), he knows how to make toasted cheese, boil an egg and fry bacon - now if he could only toss a salad or steam some veggies, he'd be set. Dr. van der Stevejinck doesn't have to do a lot of cooking, but he can read and follow recipes fairly well...especially if it's for something he likes (by that I mean ice cream). After all, following a recipe and cooking are not that different from engineering.

When Professor van Belfeld comes to dinner at Megan's, he carries alcohol in a plastic bag to not raise the neighbors' eyebrows....very thoughtful of him, I guess. Is plastic more acceptable than paper, in this case?

I wonder if Betty had to deal with many Dutch orphans? I suppose it wouldn't be unusual to have a lot orphanages right after WWII, but, this book was written in 1992. Nearly all the orphanages (not all, but nearly) that La Neels writes about are in Holland. Nearly all the abandoned babies are also in Holland. I wonder if this was something Betty experienced in her years living there and being a nurse?

Melanie, Melanie, Melanie. I don't know if I'll ever like this book as much again. Thank you Betty Keira. [Betty Keira] I've ruined it! I think in the past I've been able to enjoy this book because I mostly ignored Melanie. She isn't an interesting person. You know she will grow up to be one of those awful clinging mother-types that so often oppress Neels heroines. If Oscar pops off prematurely (of course he will) (well, to be fair, I'm not sure that he couldn't pop off too soon to suit me), Melanie will be a smothering type that rely on their daughter (yes, she will have one daughter. One daughter only) to contribute to the household funds, do the lions share of the housework/cooking and never go out with anyone interesting. Her daughter will be a little mouse of an Araminta and will have to suffer guilty pangs whenever she has a nice time without her mother. Melanie will suffer from vague health issues (her nerves will be poor) you know she will - her family already shelters the poor darling)...which will miraculously clear up after she marries a second time and kicks her poor daughter out into the world with no work experience or references.