Monday, November 29, 2010

Winter Wedding--1979

When Betty Debbie and I divvied up our book selections we each had our favorites. Let's just say that if this were a game of dodge-ball and I were picking teams then Winter Wedding is the slim-hipped nimble kid with a wicked throwing arm. But I didn't want to review it until I had 'been to the mountain', so to speak. Well, it's been almost a year since we've started the blog. I've been to the mountain.

Emily Seymour, 23, is my favorite kind of Neels heroine. Dauntless, pleasant (but not really pretty), plump (ah, but with the right foundation garments...), and stuck in a mire not of her own making.
It's November, bitterly cold, and she's camped out in God's Little Acre--east of the rock and west of the hard place. She works the dreaded night shift, is raising her sister Mary's eight month old twins (which I hasten to mention have not been dumped in her lap because Mary is a coke head--she's in the Middle East with her husband who is languishing in prison on trumped up...oh. Yes. I suppose hashish could be considered a recreational drug. What makes you ask?), has a worse-than-useless model cum baby-minder in little sister Louisa and just overheard the most ego-murdering banter in her life.
...Am I to be fobbed off with that prim miss? Surely there's another nurse...a small, plump creature who merges into the background from whatever angle one looks at her...The only females who grow on me are beautiful blondes who don't go beetroot red every time I look at them.

The good news is that this dastard's opinion changes. The bad news is that that wasn't Sammy the Long-Haired-and-Handsy-Lab-Assistant. Ladies, grab your garters. That was our hero--Professor Renier Jurres-Romeijn!
What disappointingly pedestrian tastes he runs to. How delicious will be the wreckage of his Citadel of Certitude.
They save the life of Emily's former boss, Mr. Wright (wherein she displays her usual 'relaxed ease' even when things at home and abroad are grim), and Renier meets Louisa. (Falling down in front of his Jag and faking a sprained ankle? Come on, Louisa. You're an Evil Genius. I expect better.)
Renier is amused by the contrast, no doubt. Mousy and no-nonsense older sister/gorgeous and scheming little sister. I don't forgive him for giving Louisa the time of day (you don't handle vipers, Renier, you call exterminators) but hanging about the Wee Dumpy Cottage on the Scrap of Wilderness lets him see more of Emily's sterling qualities.
And then we come to the night of the hospital ball, otherwise known as, The Apocalyptic-ly Awful End Times of Emily. Let us study the signs and wonders:
  • Sammy the Long-Haired-and-Handsy-Lab-Assistant asks her out on a bet.
  • Excited to be going at all (and maybe surprising a certain Professor), Emily plans her wardrobe...only to find that the Professor has asked Louisa...oh, and she'll need all the money Miss Em has.
  • After feeling really ill-used, Emily decides to make the best of a bad job and add her grandmother's locket to camouflage her frumpy neckline. Louisa has hocked it. (That's my little Evil Genius!)
  • Sammy ditches her at the dance (even though she moves like a dream!) and hands her some punch.
  • Er...that's not punch making her cheeks a mottled red. It's three and a half glasses of fruity vodka (and some Elizabeth Arden blusher applied with a trowel).
  • And, naturally, it's the Professor who finds her (drunk and ugly and abandoned), pours coffee down her throat and gets her home. I vote she abscond with the babies to New Zealand. Who's with me?
Renier has meanwhile found out how Louisa financed her smashing glamor of the night before and is a little less amused by the unblushing blonde than he was before.
Editorial Note:
This does not stop him from letting her use him for rides and dates whenever she wishes. Renier is still a little bit dumb.
But I haven't even got to the part about the Seconal yet! Without further ado...
What do you get when you cross a petulant pre-model, a once-in-a-...er...-lifetime dress show, and a leviathan sense of entitlement?
If you said a Seconal overdose and stomach-pumping catatonic twins than you could already be a winner!
Coming upon the scene at a fortuitous/awkward moment, Renier leaps to the conclusion that Emily's been doping them and rips into her ferociously (naturally after turning little William and Claire inside out). Enter Louisa. Disclosures. Tears. Noticeable non-ripping into Louisa. And then they're sending the blonde assassin home in a cab and all is quiet in the ambulance bay.
Editorial Note: I argue that it is here that Renier has his dawning realization...or over dinner...because you know he's taking her out for treacle tart after an accusation like that. But he's still seeing Louisa so chalk that one up to the Mysteries of The Great Betty...
And then Mary and George get out of "The Middle East Prison"! (cough*rehab*cough) Emily breezes back to the hospital to resign only to be cold-cocked by a dawning realization of her own. 'It's more than that,' he said slowly. 'You look as though someone had lighted a torch inside you.
...'No,' she managed, and meant 'Yes--you.'
She's desolate because she won't be seeing him again.
But wait! (Betty reaches into her bag of tricks) There's more!
She travels to Holland to nurse Mr. Wright in Renier's home. (Suh-weeet!)
This interlude is punctuated with shopping trips (wherein a charming rose pink flyaway chiffon dress augments her basic wardrobe), dressing for dinner, hasty kisses (happily, not that hasty), salty elderly ladies who loathe silver tissue trouser suits with the heat of seven fiery winds...and blonde tartlets as far as the eye can see.
Editorial Note:
Like I said, Renier is kind of dumb (but it's so adorable at this point when he is thoroughly put out that she's not landing in his lap). What better way to catch a girl whom you have called plump and blushing (read: shy) and a nonentity than to dangle Vogue models and leggy Heleens under her nose? But I give him points for originality. Emily is eaten up with jealousy. He's just too dumb to get that this is a bad idea. No matter. He will make a splendid husband.
On Christmas day, Emily receives the gift of her once-hocked locket. Renier. (Ah! What a sweetheart. If only he'd also dropped-kicked the little tramp who sold it, too...)
In a daring, weather-related rescue Emily saves Grandma Jurres-Romeijn's life but won't, when Renier humbly (well, for him humbly), asks her to stay and nurse the old lady. She's going back to England and if anyone wants to send her down a mine shaft to nurse and rescue some Chilean miners then she's the gal.
Away to the bare London blocks to hide herself in miserable obscurity! Until one day (not too much later) he's there sitting in her only decent chair...
The End

Rating: Obviously, my love for this one knows no bounds. Mountains of Lashings of Whipped Cream--a veritable Grand Canyon of Cream. But why? To enumerate:
  • Emily has a been handed a crap sandwich, if you'll forgive the term. Twins, Louisa, vodka punch, petty larceny, frumpy clothes, the night shift, snow, a bleak flat, mishandled pharmaceuticals and accusations of criminal carelessness...and she's nigh on Unsinkable. She isn't one of those dummies who think that Louisa is just the best sister ever or that Sammy is anything other than a warm body on the dance floor but she's not going to wallow in the muck.
  • Our hero is clue.less. He's doing his poor best but he's playing catch up from the word go. He keeps trying to goad her into plucking him off the tree like a ripened mango but, in the end, he's the one who has to travel to her side of town and chance his heart. Yay, Betty! He's not one of our stoic fellows who sail placidly through life without fuss or bother. Renier will be a mite more tempestuous (having moods and so forth) and probably more fun.
  • Louisa, as bad as she is, isn't (except for the Seconal--which situation arose out of selfishness not malice) nearly the most irredeemable Neels villainess (though I looooooove hating her). I envision her meeting Renier's younger brother and getting the education of her young life. If he's willing to trouble making her into a worthwhile human being (deep-tissue psychoanalysis, one of those desert boot-camps for delinquent youths and a lobotomy) and keep the medicine cabinet firmly locked then those two crazy kids could make it!
To sum up: I love this one! Go get it.

Food: Cereal and coddled eggs (these are scrambled, yes?), the notorious vodka punch, copious amounts of strong coffee, steak and kidney pie, treacle tart, fish and chips, brown bread ice cream (must try this), rib of beef, frozen lemon cup with a lemon sorbet, avocado pears with shrimp stuffing, turtle soup (First, find a turtle...), turkey, flaming Christmas pudding (alcohol and an open flame!), and olie bollen to ring in the Dutch New Year.

Fashion: A sensible coat, rubber boots and a wooly hat, pantyhose, a flowered crepe dress, blue organza, a silver locket (that she could have taken her sister to small claims court over, I suppose), a highly objectionable pink frilled shirt, and a velvet skirt with several tops (for all those sartorially sticky moments when a nurse's salary must pass muster in a mansion). Grandma wears a grey chiffon with her diamonds while Emily enchants in a rose pink flyaway chiffon. Unacceptable tartlets don silver tissue trouser suits and whistle eligible bachelors down the wind.

34 comments:

  1. I read it! I read it in time for this review. I'm so proud of myself!

    Alas, I don't love Winter Wedding as much as you do. First off, no wedding. Just sayin'.

    Second, it's two -- two books in one. The first is the Life is Hell, Please Rescue That Girl plot. Which would be fine, but Renier is a doofus in his role as rescuer. He buys the locket and that's it! Where's the icy put-down? Where's the wink & nod to Emily's support system? Frankly, where is Emily's support system? So the first half is like a recipe with the proportions all a bit off (for me, at least): Too much Evil Selfish Relative, not enough Omniscience in the RDD, and no Supportive Long-term Retainer Who Sees What's What and Who's Who but who also Knows How To Keep it to Herself/Himself. Which make Emily not so much plucky as genuinely in trouble. (Really. The twins could have died.)

    The second half of the book is classic Neels: English Nurse has trumped up reason to be in Holland, spend time in RDD's fabulous house, gets into a just-scary-enough-scrape (in England, it's a bomb/fire, in Holland, it's bad icy weather and/or a boating incident and/or a flood). But even in the second book, I think she's done it better elsewhere. In particular, there's really no reason -- is there? -- for Renier to wait to propose. He knows she doesn't have a job to go back to. Her protestations about wanting to be a career girl are weak and easily overcome. (Oh, seriously -- on an average day, any RDD worth his heirloom silver salter would have made a couple phone calls and just organized it so the beloved English nurse stays.) When she is chilled through saving his granny, how can he not propose then? Made no sense to me.

    I think Betty Neels got Emily back to London simply so that Renier could rescue her the way he should have in the first half.

    Treacle tart for me, I'm afraid.

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  2. Betty Barbara here--
    First a food note--coddled eggs are a variation of a soft-boiled egg. You can do them in the shell, but that's boring! You need pretty!dainty! egg coddlers to break each egg into (and season how you wish) and then to serve from.

    I'm half-way between you and Betty Magdalen on this one. I have always felt that Renier paid way too much attention to Louisa--especially after the Seconal incident! And don't give me the 'spend time with Louisa in order to keep track of Emily' line, either. Not buying it.
    He KNEW Louisa was rotten, and he still spent time with her!! Can't claim clueless and dumb doesn't begin to describe it.
    And, once in Holland, flaunting a Heleen or two in Emily's face is cruel. He should know that he's hurting her and that she will fade away, not fight.
    I'd give it a Boeuf en Croute--or maybe a Queen of Puddings-because it did make me cry, and I do love an angsty Neels book.

    Betty Magdalen--I think the reason he didn't propose after the Great Granny Rescue is that Neels hadn't reached her page count yet! It certainly was a perfect time for a proposal!

    Betty Keira--LOL over the reason behind the 'trouble in the Middle East'.

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  3. So, I get where everyone is coming on this one. And to be honest, when I read it again, I wasn't as charmed as, say, I was when I read An Ordinary Girl a few weeks back (for one thing I know this book to well to be surprised by it much) but here's why WW holds a special place in my heart:
    A) Even now, I could not tell you the plot of An Ordinary Girl without some serious brain wracking. Winter Wedding is unmistakable for anything else.
    B) What sells me is that she really IS in trouble. Louisa ought to have been smacked around but I think Mrs. Next-Door-Neighbor acts briefly in place of the Supportive Long-term Retainer Who Sees What's What and Who's Who but who also Knows How To Keep it to Herself. She shows Renier where her loyalties lie and who deserves his consideration.
    C) I think you can read him continuing to take out Louisa in a couple of ways (while acknowledging that La Neels doesn't give us enough to work with)--he's trying to keep Louisa out of Emily's hair or he's trying to prevent Louisa from dosing the twins again (lol)
    D)The locket. He didn't buy it because he loved her yet. He bought it because Emily has begun to prick his conscience. Love comes later.
    E) Making her jealous with pretty girls. By this time he is utterly enchanted with Emily and can not see why she wouldn't feel she matches up with all these vapid blondes.
    F) The scene at the bottom the the stair when he admits to insecurities is awesome--for any Neels.
    G) He is throwing a little temper tantrum when she says she wants to go back to England. I just love that she has the ability to shake him out of his RDD-ness.

    To sum up: I still love it and perhaps have loved it too long to be objective but (in the words of Katherine Hepburn in 'African Queen) Nevertheless...

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  4. Okay, some more thoughts:

    I love his character arc throughout this book. He goes from thinking of her as a nonentity (at best) to slavish devotion in something like 6 weeks. And I don't quibble with those who find him a hard pill to swallow initially--he's just so used to making time with the conventional blondes that she knocks him off his game.
    Also, I'm pretty sure that he mistakes the first signs of infatuation for pity (her position is pretty pitiable) and guilt over being the cause of her more recent misfortunes.

    The story of Winter Wedding is the story of Renier's Paradigm Shift...

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  5. I'd go with Renier's character arc if I liked him more. The locket is pretty much the redeeming moment in the first half -- I figure he buys it to right a moral wrong but doesn't know what to do with it once he's bought it. 35 pounds is chump change for him and BIG money for Emily -- and although he's nicer in the second half, it's too little too late.

    I don't like RDDs who are actively rude. Impatient I can see. But rudeness is a very un-RDD trait. Usually, they're curt and off-hand, dismissive without being unpleasant. I disliked Renier's comment because it communicated that he actually HAD noticed Emily and disliked her for superficial reasons.

    He didn't change ENOUGH to counterbalance that much unpleasantness. IMO.

    All opinions in this comment are made by the commenter herself and do not reflect the opinion of any other Betty or fan of The Uncrushable Jersey Dress. Furthermore, the commenter reserves the right to be wrong, which she is a lot of the time, as you might have noticed. And anyway, she's up against a deadline to get her contest entry done, and it's making her a bit cranky, so maybe you could cut her some slack even though she doesn't deserve it after being rude about rudeness. Thank you.

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    1. You guys are adorable! I love your blog :)
      Almost 7 years later...do you guys still read BN? Would looove it y'all restarted her collection! ;)

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    2. We have a group on Facebook - you should look us up!
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/375443175420/

      Delete
  6. Betty Magdalen, I hope by now we know each other enough for differing opinions. ;0) I hope all is going well with the entry. Let us know when you're done!

    But back to our blood feud:
    I guess I just see Renier doing a bit more on Emily's behalf in the first half. He didn't just spend 35 pounds--he got up early, had to find the right shop and swear the proprietor to secrecy. Last night made him feel like a cad and he can't have that hanging over his head. (Though I admit that it would have been a lovely sign of his Dawning Realization. It isn't though.)

    Also, he dries her up and puts her to bed (with as little loss of dignity as possible) when she's blitzed and tells her, when she says how kind he's been, that he can remember when he hadn't been kind to her at all.

    As to his rudeness--he would never have said those things to her face. (Which makes him human not a hypocrite.) When he asks her to special Mr. Wright (another stand-in for the Faithful Retainer Who Sees All) he is unfailingly polite. It's his poor luck that she found out his real opinion and sees this as though he's talking loudly and slowly to the hard of hearing/mentally unwell.

    Yes, he's irritated the whole time that he's pouring coffee down her throat but at least half of that irritation is aimed at himself for asking Louisa to the dance in the first place (and thus depriving Emily of a new outfit and her locket), having looked down on her at all (when he's beginning to admit that she's pretty awesome), etc.

    And though it's unhappily counterbalanced by continuing to be a chauffeur service for Louisa, he backs Emily up and makes Louisa take the blame.

    Again, I don't think that all of these things are motivated by love but they are the thin end of the wedge.

    Also, hitherto unmentioned, I really like how badly she uses cosmetics and then sort of sorts all that out by the end. I sooooo related.

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  7. Renier is not the only RDD to start out with a somewhat low opinion of the heroine. Baron Tiele Raukema van den Eck (The Promise of Happiness or, if you prefer, Becky and the Baron (the hot, hot, baron))evidently has told his sister that Becky is not only plain, but looks like a half-starved mouse. I'm just saying - Renier isn't the only RDD to say something that he will later regret...

    I don't have a problem with Emily's predicament being unbelievably bad (and thus she's in need of rescue)...many Neels heroines have equally difficult situations - Emily's just stands out because of the Seconol Twins. My biggest problem is believing that sister Mary would leave two babies for months on end so that she can go hang outside a Middle East prison. She's not getting my vote for Mother of the Year. After an absence of months, it's highly unlikely that the twins will even remember their parents. Had only one been gone, the transition would be much easier.

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  8. I know, right?! Mary, though cognizant of the hassle she's putting everyone through, is a real head-scratcher.

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  9. I can read facts into Mary's situation (e.g., Foreign Office says, You should be here -- Unnamed Middle Eastern Country's government much more likely to release your husband the not-really-a-spy businessman if they can see that he's actually married to an actual woman -- but don't bring the babies. UMEC will infer marital relations without them) that absolve her of fault.

    Does no one else think it bizarre to take an 18-year-old (yeah, even a beautiful 18-year-old) to a hospital ball? I can imagine it's part of Louisa's Evil Genius to show up Emily by going with Renier, but what's Renier's excuse? He actually likes scheming hussies? Or does he do it to punish Emily for being -- well, the English nurse he's least likely to fall for, and thus the one he's most at risk of falling for.

    There's the tiniest whiff of sadism (yes, I mean that precise word) in some of her RDDs, so I wonder if that's behind all the to-ing and fro-ing with Louisa. But I still think there's too much dark spice in this brew.

    Blood feud. Funny. I love you too. :-)

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  10. Betty Barbara here--
    With another comment or two
    Betty Magdalen--I think he takes Louisa to the ball because he has a eye for pretty girls and for no other reason. At this point in the story Emily does not really register on his 'datable woman' radar.
    And once back in Holland, flaunting all those pretty girls had the exact opposite effect of what he wanted. He is obviously suffering from RDD Disease--tells grandma he wants to marry Emily (so she can drop cryptic remarks), the Wrights have a clue, so does Polly--he even tells Emily that he's going to be married! All the while failing to realize that Emily has no self-confidence about her looks! Not even the kisses help his case--all she can see are all the lovely ladies he is dragging past her! (IMO he would have been much more successful if he decided to actually woo her! Sheesh, what a slow top.)

    Hey Betty Keira--just remember, we get these great discussions going on the books we feel strongest about. (Remember Betty JoDee's reaction to The Hasty Marriage(lol)).
    And that is why this site is so much fun.

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  11. Can't wait for this one. Love that picture of the pink dress, I think I might have to knock it off. I also loathe silver tissue trouser suits.

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  12. I picked that pink dress and thought of you, Betty Kylene. Also, notice her locket. Except for the 'flyaway chiffon' bit (which I can't get behind as chiffon might be my least favorite fabric next to pant-weight polyester) it's a ringer for Emily.

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  13. No. Do not make me argue about fashion.

    But... I'm pretty sure Emily's dress had a scoop neck and full sleeves caught at the elbow with the satin that edged the neckline. Not sure if the waistline was empire or regular, but you know the skirt was all floaty, because otherwise why make it out of chiffon?

    Betty loved her chiffon. Mevrouw Jurres-Romeijn's birthday dress was gray chiffon -- which could well have been a creation from the House of Araminta, the number of English nurses who have worn it.

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  14. I would like chiffon better if I didn't have children. I have never known such a spot/drip/spill magnetic material! ;0)

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  15. And who was Betty Neels' cleaner/valet? Chiffon might look nice for the first wearing, but then it goes limp and never recovers.

    Strangely, Betty indicts "crepe" for those precise crimes, but loves her chiffon.

    Times like these I wish a Ouija board actually worked.

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  16. Man, this is the one I didn't want to miss, but I've been buried under children, Christmas, husbands (oops, that sounds bad), etc. and couldn't get loose.

    First, I don't understand THOSE who would defend Nasty Reilof's obsession with Icky Sister and yet are irritated with Renier's--admit it, now--bland uncle-like indulgence of Loopy Louisa.

    Secondly, Renier's initial comment simply reflected a wealthy, sophisticated man's reaction to a shy, apparently personality-less nonentity with whom he would have to work in close proximity--perhaps one of the more realistic Betty portrayals of a RDD. However, he learns and grows fairly quickly--with a couple of backslides--("You doped the twins, You Evil Nonentity!")

    However, the oddest thing about this book for me is the change from when I first read it--years ago, perhaps a teenager, at least a single young adult--to recently as a mother of four small ones in six years. I actually have alot more sympathy for Loopy Louisa. (Sympathy for Emily, of course, rolls in waves like a tide.) Taking care of small ones all day--even when they're yours--can be the pits and a soul-ripping operation (oh hush, you supermoms--I'm not talking to you)--and I'm more than *ahem double Loopy Louisa's age.

    Lastly, I have been waiting for months just knowing that the Founding Bettys would solve the Ancient Mystery--just what is Seconal on this side of the Atlantic? What gives?

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  17. It's hard to quantify my feelings Betty JoDee but I think I forgive Reilof because he was actually in love with lame younger sister and only saw carelessness (not cruelty) on her part. Renier doesn't have the excuse of being in love with Louisa and keeps taking her out even when she's almost offed the twins.

    Also, I'm kind of with you about Louisa. She's way too young to be watching twins (8-month old ones!) by herself for hours at a time. That's why I hope some awesome man reforms her...

    I think of Seconal like Ambien (a really 'hit you over the head' Ambien).

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  18. You know, Betty JoDee has a good point (well, many good points, but here I mean in the sense of a "good argument"): It was Emily who blithely said to Mary, "Oh, of course we'll take care of the twins!" without really considering a) what she was agreeing to, and b) what she was dumping on Louisa. You just know Louisa didn't agree to that arrangement. And Mary might have protested, "Oh, darling, that's so kind, but you have your job and Lou is so young [read: immature]. We can figure something out." Emily: "What? And have the twins with strangers? Never! Louisa and I can manage."

    Not that it would acquit Louisa of assault on the twins... But it's never a good idea to assume another person's generosity.

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  19. This is one of the few Betty Neels books that I truly hate.

    I simply cannot stand the "so called" hero in this book. The only thing that would have made him a hero in my eyes, would be if he married the rotten sister, if only to spare Emily from being stuck with him.

    I truly can't stand him. He's so blinded by the outer wrappings, he doesn't care if pretty means selfishly psychotic. The twins could have died and it didn't even faze him, he still took her the sister out and as if that's not bad enough, he then tosses a few other good lookers in Emily's face because you know, she just hasn't been dumped on enough and then at last, he decides that he's big hearted enough to overlook her lack of pretty face and marry her. Wow, as if his millions will make up for his lack of character. NO WAY!

    Emily deserved a good man, not a creep. Run Emily, run fast and don't look back is my advice.

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    1. I love this book – despite the hero's lack in good judgement/idiotic behaviour. Have you read the comments following Winter Wedding – Reprise?

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  20. Like others I am also a little perplexed by Renier's behavior. Even after he falls for Emily he goes out with Louisa? And Heleen? And even when Louisa is out of the picture and Emily is nicely ensconced in Holland, he asks Emily if he expects to hear from Louisa? I just don't get him, and fully understand why she wants to run back to England. I would too if somebody was giving me mixed signals like that.

    I did love parts of the book though, and loved the end where he has finally proposed, she's accepted, and he says "We'll go back to my apartment."

    And she draws away from him because good Neels girls do go to Brighton, even if they are engaged. Gotta love it.

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  21. I had to come and read this review before finishing the story because I have been perplexed; this is such an odd Neels book. Renier and his motivations are so puzzling! From chapter five: "He's nice," observed Mary, coming downstairs again. "Knows how to handle children, too. Do you work for him all the time?" So before getting to Holland, this was the only explanation that I could think of for how Renier continues to deal with Louisa even after she poisons the twins, but apparently he's about to parade some other chick in front of Emily?? So weird. I don't like this story, but I have to agree, this is going to be one of the most memorable plots.

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  22. Okay, I finished it and it ends up being a good tale. Strange but good.

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  23. Don't like this zero hero at all. From the get go he is AWFUL. He is told a very competent nurse will special his dear friend Dr. Wright who has throat cancer and you'd think that was all that would matter to him in this dire situation, but no - he doesn't want to be fobbed off with plump, plain Emily and dismisses this excellent nurse and wonderful person strictly on her physical appearance stating that he only likes “beautiful blondes”. He's Yuck. He treats Emily like crud and looks right through her or ignores her altogether while smiling and conversing with everyone else.

    He then shows up at Emily's home (that she pays for) with her cunning and rotten younger sister Louisa who he will begin dating. You wonder how all these dates went with stupid, shallow Louisa nattering on in her vapid and self-centered way with this supposed brilliant surgeon and wonderful human being according to all and sundry. Would love to have been a fly on the wall to hear their scintillating conversations. Emily was certainly never treated to a fraction of the kid glove handling lavished on Louisa by the professor - in fact he was rude and harsh - Oh, I forgot, he did have a tray of food sent up to her when he selfishly caused her to miss her dinner and had to be told this by Mrs. Wright. Emily finally got fed at midnight after ten hours on her feet caring for Mr. Wright and he did take her out for a cheap pub meal after accusing her of trying to murder the twins and then finding out it was actually his dear Louisa who was the guilty party. Oh and getting Emily’s prized locket out of hawk was great, but he should have returned it to her immediately - his waiting until Holland and Christmas was BS - it was chump change and he should have also got her something else that was stunning - but in light of his awful behavior in Holland, I’m NOT surprised - What a hero Renier is!/sarc

    When Louisa poisoned the eight month old baby twins with Seconal in order to go to a fashion show we really see the Professor in a true-to-form ugly and judgmental light when dealing with poor Emily who had already shown herself to be reliable, competent and trustworthy. He attacks and verbally draws and quarters her without even giving her a chance to speak and accuses her of poisoning the twins. He really shines here. Louisa then pulls up in a cab and uses melting tears and apologies while admitting to doping the twins and Renier then gently puts her back in the cab and pays her fare back home. He begins dating her again immediately after. Like WOW!!

    Then moving on to Emily agreeing to again schlep for Renier and the Wrights by driving them to Holland and caring for Dr, Wright because as the Professor reminds her when guilting her into coming, "A couple of weeks of your time, Emily? A change would do them both good as they've been through a good deal." Right there, if I were Emily, I would have reminded this pompous so-and-so and Mary and George as well that I too had been through a "good deal" caring and paying for the twins and Louisa, working the night shift, cleaning and cooking because of lazy, selfish Louisa, the horrible Hospital Ball, the Seconal incident and total complete STRESS and that I was overdue for "a change" as well and said NO THANK YOU to the smug, cocky Professor.

    Holland was awful with the idiot Renier creepily giving punishing kisses to Emily on the sly (which in light of his recently dating my psyhco sister I would have slapped him silly for) while publicly ignoring her and sucking up to and taking out the vapid, shallow Dutch version of Louisa, Heleena. This guy is a real beaut and one of the worst Neel’s “heroes” EVER. Emily deserved MUCH better - too bad she didn’t think enough of herself to realize it.

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  24. Don't like this zero hero at all. From the get go he is AWFUL. He is told a very competent nurse will special his dear friend Dr. Wright who has throat cancer and you'd think that was all that would matter to him in this dire situation, but no - he doesn't want to be fobbed off with plump, plain Emily and dismisses this excellent nurse and wonderful person strictly on her physical appearance stating that he only likes “beautiful blondes”. He's Yuck. He treats Emily like crud and looks right through her or ignores her altogether while smiling and conversing with everyone else.

    He then shows up at Emily's home (that she pays for) with her cunning and rotten younger sister Louisa who he will begin dating. You wonder how all these dates went with stupid, shallow Louisa nattering on in her vapid and self-centered way with this supposed brilliant surgeon and wonderful human being according to all and sundry. Would love to have been a fly on the wall to hear their scintillating conversations. Emily was certainly never treated to a fraction of the kid glove handling lavished on Louisa by the professor - in fact he was rude and harsh - Oh, I forgot, he did have a tray of food sent up to her when he selfishly caused her to miss her dinner and had to be told this by Mrs. Wright. Emily finally got fed at midnight after ten hours on her feet caring for Mr. Wright and he did take her out for a cheap pub meal after accusing her of trying to murder the twins and then finding out it was actually his dear Louisa who was the guilty party. Oh and getting Emily’s prized locket out of hawk was great, but he should have returned it to her immediately - his waiting until Holland and Christmas was BS - it was chump change and he should have also got her something else that was stunning - but in light of his awful behavior in Holland, I’m NOT surprised - What a hero Renier is!/sarc

    When Louisa poisoned the eight month old baby twins with Seconal in order to go to a fashion show we really see the Professor in a true-to-form ugly and judgmental light when dealing with poor Emily who had already shown herself to be reliable, competent and trustworthy. He attacks and verbally draws and quarters her without even giving her a chance to speak and accuses her of poisoning the twins. He really shines here. Louisa then pulls up in a cab and uses melting tears and apologies while admitting to doping the twins and Renier then gently puts her back in the cab and pays her fare back home. He begins dating her again immediately after. Like WOW!!

    Then moving on to Emily agreeing to again schlep for Renier and the Wrights by driving them to Holland and caring for Dr, Wright because as the Professor reminds her when guilting her into coming, "A couple of weeks of your time, Emily? A change would do them both good as they've been through a good deal." Right there, if I were Emily, I would have reminded this pompous so-and-so and Mary and George as well that I too had been through a "good deal" caring and paying for the twins and Louisa, working the night shift, cleaning and cooking because of lazy, selfish Louisa, the horrible Hospital Ball, the Seconal incident and total complete STRESS and that I was overdue for "a change" as well and said NO THANK YOU to the smug, cocky Professor.

    Holland was awful with the idiot Renier creepily giving punishing kisses to Emily on the sly (which in light of his recently dating my psyhco sister I would have slapped him silly for) while publicly ignoring her and sucking up to and taking out the vapid, shallow Dutch version of Louisa, Heleena. This guy is a real beaut and one of the worst Neel’s “heroes” EVER. Emily deserved MUCH better - too bad she didn’t think enough of herself to realize it.

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  25. I totally agree with Anon 12/01/14 he is a fool. RDD's are a lot of things but never fools.I cannot believe that the Great Betty wrote this, so I will harbour the delusion that someone came in the night and stole her thunder!

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  26. Reiner is shallow and arrogant. Emily should have voiced her thoughts aloud that "he'd charm money from a miser's purse" when he said she no longer merge into the background. That way, Reiner would realize that he would have to work that much harder to not take Emily for granted.

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  27. (1/2) We had not realised that this was a controversial entry in the canon.

    Like many a romantic hero, Renier has the ill luck of the heroine overhearing a comment that cuts to the quick. We don't infer it being a question of Emily's professional competence, rather an expressed annoyance that not only did he not get his preference of nurse to ‘special’ Dr Wright but the suspicion that the Wrights are playing matchmaker with a lowly non-entity nurse. After all, gentlemen prefer blondes.

    Emily enraged, does not engage in the sycophantic manner in which he is accustomed. It forces him to take notice. He is intrigued that his usual lazy charm is not mollifying Emily. Assumptions made turn out to be wrong. Emily is an enigma to him (one that he never quite understands) and then comes Louisa.

    Renier, contrary to Louisa’s belief is not ‘enslaved by her pretty face’. His interest in her is solely as Emily’s sister. The courtesies he performs are in tribute to Emily (and to extract information). The Locket Incident reveals to Renier the horrific level of emotional abuse (and financial strain) that Emily has been subjected to. (The carelessness to which Louisa tells Emily that she had every right to sell the Locket with the immortal line ‘what’s the use of it to you’ is highly suggestive that the parents’ estate was not equally distributed. That it was well established pattern within the family that the needs (read wants) of the ‘pretty’ Mary and Louisa were prioritised.) This is why Renier simply cannot return the locket to Emily once it is his possession. Emily would interpret it as a conciliatory gesture as Louisa’s lover on her (L’s) behalf not that of a man offering to ease the burden of the woman he loves (dawning realisation pending).

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  28. 2/2
    We all know that Louisa’s future will probably include a true crime podcast. Renier is angry over the Seconal incident (though Google mentions it was a recreational drug in the 1970s) as he fears Emily may not be the woman he is beginning to decipher (i.e the ideal mother of his future children). The free pass that Louisa seems to be granted is more for Emily’s benefit who is infuriatingly blind to her sister’s faults. (Yes, this incident is not satisfactorily resolved. No, Renier enquiring after Louisa in Holland is not indicative of a continued interest but to tell Emily, Louisa, is not who she thinks she is and she has effectively nothing to return to England for (so please stay here with me in Holland)).
    Mary, the older and more subtle version of Louisa, seems not to be subject to the same level of scrutiny. Here is a woman who has no qualms dumping new born twins on an 18-year-old sister she despises and a 23-year-old sister who needs to work to support them all. It raises question how long this trip to the Middle East was supposed to be when she moans, ‘We had to leave a good deal behind.’ Mary hardly seems interested in the twins when she returns. Was the plan to leave the twins with Emily until they could be sent to boarding school. The assistance offered to Emily to move, never materialises. In effect, Emily is treated as a domestic by her sister. Paid for a service rendered with a token scarf and hankies for Christmas. (This is the gift presented to many a FFR not a sister who has sacrificed her career looking after your twins for close to a year).
    Holland is a distinct second act as she is away from her toxic sisters and she has the motherly guidance of Mrs Wright (whose own children seemed to have disappeared for Christmas). We see how damaged Emily is by bad parenting (Renier is adamant that the same mistakes won’t happen with their children). Even the professor is ‘astounded’ by the implications of her offer to keep out of his way at breakfast. This is where Renier fails as a hero.
    Renier, on some level realises that Emily is so self- effacing that the ‘pretty’ string of girls is not going evoke jealousy as he hopes but be interpreted as yet another sign that she is not worthy of his love. Mrs Wright sees the girls for what they are and tries to tell Emily obliquely Renier loves her and is screwing the declaration up badly. Even, his brother and grandmother do a better job of courting her. It is sad in the end when Emily tells Renier, ‘I love you too, but I’m not right for you’. At least by now, Renier knows what Emily emotionally needs and with the silver mouse as his talisman, they should be okay together.

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  29. At the end of the story, Reiner said he had loved Emily for weeks and weeks. So when did he have his dawning realization (DR)? She was in Holland for 2 weeks, he asked her to go with Dr/Mrs. Wright at her 2 weeks' notice period from the hospital, so this is 4 weeks and a bare week after her return to England, so 5 weeks in total. Was his DR after the drugging of the twins, so maybe 7 weeks in total for him? Not very long for him to be in love, however Emily realized she loved Reiner at the time she gave her notice, so maybe that's ok.

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