Monday, May 10, 2010

The Silver Thaw - Discussion Thread

Amelia works on Boxing Day. I don't know anyone who celebrates "Boxing Day". No, not one. I have to admit to being a little hazy about what one actually does on Boxing Day. According to Wikipedia, Boxing Day is a big shopping day...but that's not true in Betty Neels Alternate Universe. Her heroines might go to the January sales, but Boxing Day usually involves parties. Or in the case of Amelia - it just means a busier day than usual at the hospital. [Betty Keira] Maybe Boxing Day is like the Brit equivelent of Black Friday on the day after Thanksgiving. Some (like myself) shop madly while others eat left-over turkey and watch football...

While waltzing on page 126, Gideon asks Amelia, "what's on for tomorrow?" Her answer: "A cholestectomy with complications." When I read the word "cholestectomy", it struck a chord. A quick Google search to verify....sure enough, it's a surgery that I have intimate knowledge of. I had a cholestectomy 3 years after The Silver Thaw came out. That was back in the days before laparoscopic surgery - so I was left with a 7 inch scar diagonally across my abdomen. Wahoo. (And no, I'm not sharing a picture of my scar.)

When Amelia is visiting in Holland, Gideon tells her that she should have a warmer jacket - like the one she wore in Norway. She responds by telling him that her fishing jacket is years old and smells fishy. I completely relate to the smelly old clothes issue. When I was a teenager I spent one summer on a chicken farm gathering eggs. I had only one or two outfits that I wore there - and no where else. It didn't matter how much I washed them, they always seemed to have a bit of a funky smell. Nowadays I don't have clothes like that...but I do have boys...teenage boys. When we were going through security at the airport on Friday, my 19 year old was chosen to have his sneakers "sniffed". Now there's a funky smell. I had a flannel that I wore often while working in a fish processing plant in Alaska one summer. Talk about a fishy smell...

Amelia's go-to "fancy" hairstyle seems to be rolling her hair in a chignon and sticking a bow in it. Not the first heroine to use this hairstyle. Not the last. And that's the verb she uses both times--'stick'. Not 'place' or 'arrange'.

After Amelia's mother died, she was sent to boarding school...which I guess solved the problem of before and after school day-care for her dad. When she "left" boarding school she refused to go to the finishing school her dad had picked out for her. My questions....when do you 'leave' boarding school? What is the U.S. equivalent of a finishing school? I googled "finishing school" and found a site that mentions charm school classes for MIT students...perfect for smart but clueless engineer types (which describes Dr. van der Stevejinck to a tee - and all 5 of my boys).

Speaking of continuing education, a lot can be learned about the Norwegian wildlife/agriculture industry in The Silver Thaw. Or at least Betty Neels 1980 version of it. There are "the inevitable fish oil refineries" which means there must be fishing in industrial quantities...Amelia also has the opportunity to watch reindeer herders in action. Which is just a nice little prelude to eating reindeer steaks. Are you trying to entice me to reminisce about my days as a fish grader fro TransAqua International?

La Neels gives us a charming glimpse into Mr. Crosbie's romantic/tragic back story. Amelia's mum and dad were married during "The Late Unpleasantness", and after spending a couple of weeks together, they spent 3 years (!!!) apart. He tells Amelia, "...we loved each other so much, just to know that the other was somewhere on earth was enough." Wow. Now I'd like to read a prequel. I really felt that Betty was throwing herself into his story right there. I know! What pathos! Father comes out of his cod and halibut stupor long enough to make Tom appear the merest blip on Amelia's radar compared to what her mother was to him.


  1. Barbara here--
    I just re-read this book last week and my reaction was pretty much the same as yours. I wanted to smack Amelia for even wasting one minute on Tom (what did she ever see in him??) and for being so contrary with our RDD.
    A few other thoughts:
    Our Betty knew some Rogers & Hammerstein! Not just Andrew Lloyd Weber! Sigh, "Some Enchanted Evening" is one of my favorite songs, so I got a giggle or two when RDD quoted it at Amelia.
    As a Barbara, I must, of course, protest the name of the nasty cousin. I don't know what name she should have been given, but Barbara was all wrong!
    And lastly, it was if LaNeels didn't have her heart into writing Fiona(the other woman). She is so seldom on the scene that Amelia's (misguided) fears about the RDD's relationship with her just seem, well, weak.
    Oh, when you were listing clothes you failed to mention Amelia's mink coat! That must be some allowance she is getting!
    I suspect Betty Magdalen can give you the info on Boxing Day.

  2. Bummer about the name granddaughter has a Neels bad-girl name too: Miriam. It is a bit offensive. Lucky me - there are at least 2 heroines with variations on my name ;0)

    I'm with you on the Fiona thing. This seems to be a re-occuring theme with Betty...the "barely there" competition that is blown way the heck out of proportion by the muddled thinking of Olivia Amelia Araminta Cassandra Dawlish Darling.

  3. That's right. Her allowance must have been huge. I love that she keeps showing up with new clothes--earning Tom's frown. But, really, if the situation were reversed and our RDD was not so R, would he have been okay with Amelia's father paying for all the frosting in her life?

    Also, my daughter Laura is the mis-used heroine in The Hasty Marriage. Here on out, I shall think of Cousin Barbara as Cousin Babs.

  4. Boxing Day is the day after Christmas (St. Stephen's Day), so called because it was the day servants (lucky them) received a "Christmas Box", a gift in cash or goods, from their employer. Now it is a Bank Holiday (gotta have at least two days off for Christmas and if you do some fancy footwork with weekends and New Years you can make it last well over a week) devoted, as you suspected, to shopping, eating leftovers and watching TV.

    Finishing School. In pre-feminist days when nicely brought up girls didn't even consider college, the finishing school was to give them a little social polish and prepare for the marriage market. You learned deportment, etiquette, how to dress for every occasion, how to deal with your servants (including no doubt the proper content of a Christmas Box), that kind of thing. Maybe you were taught some useful skills like typing or cookery, but most likely not.

  5. In regards to Rodgers & Hammerstein, has anyone else seen the Hyundai commercial using, "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" (Jeff Bridges maybe with the voice-over narration)? At the end, Professor van der Hertenzoon and I burst out laughing.