Monday, January 16, 2012

Heaven Around the Corner--Reprise

Betty Debbie wrote a great review here.  I love it when she tells us how much we've earned the truly smashing declaration of love at the end of a book that is more littered with hints of alcoholic dependence than hints of affection.  He probably couldn't build another bridge without her!  Somehow I don't see that coming off from a heart surgeon... Anyway, one of the major beefs of this one is that his rotten sister is an undisclosed lush. Maybe Louisa should have peppered her conversation with helpful questions like: Do you drink because you are shy with other people? or Do you turn to inferior companions and environments when drinking?  Yes, a quiz would have cleared up Louisa's a confusion when Simon didn't feel like doing the job. 
Happy MLK Jr. Day for our (gross) American Bettys!
Betty Keira


Heaven Around the Corner may have a forgettable title, but as a story, it's very memorable. This is one that I do pick up and reread...after reading it this week, I had to ask myself, why? Why do I reread this one? The love story is a bit weak...in fact, for most of the book it's a no-show. The heroine is fine, but she spends 99% of the book taking care of an alcoholic. That doesn't leave a lot of interaction time with the hero who is , for all intents and purposes, a misogynist. So why reread? Two words. Engineering and scenery.

Louisa Evans, (22 year old Araminta) you've just been put on the State Register! What are you going to do now? Disneyworld? No, Norway!! Louisa wants to get away from an interfering step-mother and the persist, self-important, short, plump, Frank. Frank who keeps proposing, and she keeps turning down, with depressing regularity. As soon as she's an "official" nurse, she quits her job at the hospital (a mid-Victorian monstrosity, natch). Feel free to forget about step-mama and Frank - they are now banished to shadow status.
Louisa has an interview with a woman who needs a nurse/companion to go with her to Norway. The lovely Miss Savage is thrilled to find such a young, inexperienced nurse. Louisa might just as well have fallen right off the turnip lorry. What is Miss Savage's medical condition? Never you mind your not quite pretty little head about it. Let's just call it "indigestion"...or "a liver complaint"...or something else equally vague, because that's all the info our brand new trained nurse will get. Louisa will need some new uniforms...where does Miss Savage send her? Harrods. (Query: Did Harrod's have a uniform department in 1980?).
Before leaving England, Louisa has a chat with Miss Savage's doctor...who continues with the vague, nebulous info. And no, you won't be seeing the notes on the case. Hmmm....sounds a bit fishy.
And now we're off to Bergen, along with 3 rowdy friends of Miss Savage's...Connie, Willie and Steve (I object!). Much loud laughter ensues in the first class compartment while the friends down gin and tonics in flight.
The flat in Bergen is nice (if you happen to like "modern Scandinavian style") - and comes complete with a cook/housekeeper named Eva who has to work the gosh-awful hours of 8am to 7pm each day - with 2 hours off in the afternoons. Enough about her...I just feel bad that she has such awful working hours...but as she is practically a non-entity we won't dwell on it.
After her swilling friends leave, Miss Savage (I'm going to just call her Claudia now), throws her first tantrum...her first of many. To save time and space, just assume that any time Louisa is around Claudia that a fit is being thrown. Claudia's mood swings are the stuff of legend. Cheerful one minute, ranting the next. Louisa handles her quite nicely - especially considering the fact that she hasn't a clue what the REAL problem is. She has met with the local doctor who is now in charge of Claudia and hasn't been told anything beyond "Unhappily there are many such [cases] these days and you will understand that there is not a great deal to be done." Um, could you be a little more explicit?
Claudia's brother rings up and wants to chat with her...but Louisa fobs him off with a cool "she's resting." Louisa's first impression of him is that he is just about the nastiest type she's ever encountered. Worse than than the self-important Frank. One nice thing about Claudia, is that she is generous with the time off she allows Louisa (it's much easier to swill potent potables if the nurse isn't around...). Louisa gets to see the sights around Bergen more than any other Neels heroine. One of the first things she does is to buy a ticket and take a ride up the funicular. Louisa rides calmly up without any large RDD to cling to. Doesn't need one. Louisa has a good head for heights. What?? A heroine who can handle heights? Unheard of! Yep, it's all there in black and white. Too bad for her that when she gets back to the flat she finds Louisa in the middle of a fight with a strange man who is in a towering rage. Towering rage. Check. That must mean our hero has finally arrived. Simon Savage, the Uncivil Engineer (I know, I know, he sounds like a character in a particularly bad soap opera - makes me almost wish for something Dutch and unpronounceable) is not happy with his step-sister. He asks Louisa if she knows what Claudia's "problem" is. Louisa gives him all the vague mediciny terms that she has at her disposal; "blocked bile duct", "dyspepsia", and "a kind of severe indigestion" are bandied about. Editor's Note: La Neels never seems quite sure what to do with Simon. It's pretty plain that she didn't know too many engineers, civil or otherwise. Having spent 30 years with Dr. van der Stevejinck (who, in spite of the fictitious title, is an actual engineer), I know me some engineers. I've never met one who was remotely like Simon Savage. I find it surprising that even when Simon realizes that Nurse Evans doesn't know Claudia is an alcoholic, he doesn't tell her either. It makes one start to believe in conspiracy theories....
Simon heads back to Tromsø, and while the cat's away, Claudia's friends (remember Willie, Connie and Steve??) pay a visit. Simon isn't there to shoo them off, so he asks Louisa to tag along with the group. Awkward. But she does it. Hints as to Claudia's condition are dropped pretty fast and thick, but Louisa is still clueless...until Simon comes to visit again and they walk in on Louisa passed out next to a half empty bottle of vodka. Okay, NOW we'll tell Louisa that Claudia has a drinking problem. "Why wasn't I told?" Why indeed.
Enter Lars Helgesen, bank employee. Or manager. Or something to do with a bank. Whatev...that's who Louisa has to see to get her wages - and to pick up Claudia's money. He's a nice guy, she's a nice girl....wanna go on a date? Sure, I just need to get a babysitter for my patient. It's lovely that Louisa finally gets someone nice to talk to (Claudia and Simon don't count, they aren't nice...yet), but when Lars comes to fetch Louisa all he has to do is clap his eyes on the Claudia, who manages to be glamorous even though "addicted to the bottle", and he's smitten. From there on out there's no possibility of romance with the almost, but not quite, pretty Louisa. Louisa lets her vague idea of Lars being interested in her slide into oblivion. Oh well, easy come, easy go. Lars is actually something of a godsend for Claudia - and Louisa is quick to see that. If Lars is the medicine that Claudia needs, Louisa is going to do all she can to make sure he gets his chance to work. And work he does. Lars is the miracle that Claudia needed - she is nearly instantly cured. But nevermind that Claudia is cured, Simon Says come to Tromsø, so to Tromsø they must go. Instead of a quick flight, Claudia and Louisa are booked aboard the Coastal Steamer. They girls get to share a stateroom, which Louisa finds perfect. Claudia takes one look at it and contemplates mutiny. The only other English speaking people on the boat are Mr. and Mrs. Foster Kuntz, from San Antonio Texas... they might be nice, but they're also rich and garrulous, so Claudia shuns them like the plague. In spite of the mutinous Claudia, Louisa does slip off to view the scenery from time to time...which is undoubtedly splendid, what with it being Norway and all. Simon meets them in Tromsø and asks Louisa to dinner (the bone-idle Claudia has room service). Social chit chat only goes so far at dinner - then Simon starts questioning Louisa. Again, he's an engineer, not a RDD...and it shows. He only gets so far before Louisa outflanks him with, I'm not going to answer any more questions...let's talk about bridges. Louisa is surprised to find that she isn't intimidated by Simon any more - she does still dislike him, though. The feeling may or may not be mutual...on the boat ride to the fjord the very next day, a quick kiss is given to an apple cheeked Louisa. What? What was that? A quick kiss? Nevermind, just ignore it. It will not be referred to again.

Tromsø temporary housing (okay, technically not Tromsø...the bridge is being built about 15 miles away - this will be important later on...) is actually quite roomy. I'm not sure why Simon the Uncivil needed a 3 bedroom 1 bath cottage before, but it's going to come in handy now. Louisa is impressed (she is rather easily impressed, see coastal steamer stateroom), but not surprisingly Claudia is not. "What a dump! ...It's ghastly - we can't all use that poky little bathroom.." Editor: I do feel for the girl...sharing a bathroom with anyone besides a spouse is not fun - but it can be done. I remember when Betty Marcy came to stay with us for a couple of months...between us we had 7 kids, plus the two of us, plus Dr. van der Stevejinck. Did I mention that we were BOTH pregnant? Yeah, lots of people can share one bathroom But it isn't fun.

Life on the fjord is trying for Claudia...which means it's trying for everybody. Louisa comes up with a plan to have Claudia teach her to ski. There. that's one little bit of excitement. Watching Louisa fall down repeatedly has got to be a barrel of laughs - she eventually gets to be somewhat adequate. Another bit of excitement is the Saturday Night Community Cinema and Dance!! Seems that people from miles around come to paint the town red. Even Lars will be there, thus single-handedly guaranteeing Claudia's good mood. Louisa isn't too excited at the prospect. "...she would be forced to drop inane remarks over the high wall of Simon Savage's indifference." (thank you, Betty) After dinner (soup and cod) the chairs are lined up for folks to watch The Sound of Music. Louisa watches it all misty-eyed, Simon watches Louisa. Hmmm. I'm thinking Louisa might be misty-eyed from having to sit on a folding chair for three hours. I would be - an hour's about my limit. These Norwegians pack a lot of activity in one evening...after the movie it's time to dance. No staid waltzes or foxtrots here. Nope, the tape player is cranked up and out come the soothing sounds of....wait for it....wait for it.....ABBA! Editor: I totally cracked up when I read that. I still listen to ABBA...frequently. I know all the wrong words to Waterloo, Fernando and Mamma Mia...in fact, when Betty Keira and I take a road trip in a couple of weeks, you can be sure we'll be belting out a little ABBA on the long boring stretches of freeway - thus proving that music can span the ages. Betty Neels would have been in her mid to late 60's when she first heard them, I was a teenager, and Betty Keira was born during their heyday...alright already, let's get back to the show...Simon dances the evening away with Louisa, going far beyond the simple bounds of duty and courtesy. Hmmm....Just as Louisa is falling off to sleep that night, Simon taps on the door and enters her bedroom. Huh? Oh, there's an emergency medical situation and we need you back at the Community Center. Three men fell in the fjord. Louisa dons her super-hero outfit and proceeds to use her awesome ninja nursing skills. Pulses are taken, clothes removed, false teeth extracted and fractured leg splinted. The men will need further medical attention, but for that they'll have to take the launch to Tromsø. Not an appealing trip in the cold and dark. Coffee spiked with Aqua Vitae (which I always read as Aqua Velva) is handed round before heading out to sea...more coffee liberally spiked is handed to Louisa for the return trip. I sort of have a problem with this....Simon Savage has been dealing with the Alcoholic Claudia for EIGHT YEARS and now he's liquoring up Louisa? Uh-uh. No. Don't go there. Evidently a Louisa swimming in spirits is attractive to the uncivil engineer, because it earns her Kiss #2. Methinks our heroine is starting to soften a bit on the subject of Simon. A few pages later Louisa is stuck having dinner alone (Claudia is out with Lars - and Simon is MIA)...Not knowing where Simon is, she first assumes his boat turned over...but we can tell she's not in love yet, because she doesn't dwell on that morbid possibility for too long - nope, she starts imagining slap-up dinners with stunning Norwegian beauties. Back in the old days (pre-cell phone), whenever Dr. van der Stevejinck was late coming home, I would assume he was dead in a ditch and mentally start spending the insurance money.
It's time for Lars to fly back to his bank in Bergen, which means that Claudia's good moods are over (he may have cured her tendency to tip the bottle, but her foul disposition is always waiting in the wings - I predict a relapse for her, and the bottle for him within 6 months of getting hitched). Simon is not amused by her tantrums, and he's getting ready to have it out with her, but fierce little Louisa steps in and shoos him down the stairs, tells him he doesn't understand women and please go back to your dang bridge building.

The book is getting distressingly short on pages, and we still haven't been treated to a Dawning Realization by either parties. Yes, we got one each from Claudia and Lars, but you don't seriously believe I'm going to count those? Simon now tries to be a Civil Engineer...he asks Louisa to call him Simon instead of Mr. Savage (like a mid-Victorian ogre)...she's just not ready to, that is, until he gives her notice. Once Louisa realizes that she will never see Mr. Savage again, it's Dawning Realization time! Louisa's got her eyes wide open and realizes quite well that she's fallen for someone who is "...ill-tempered, brusque, impatient and intolerant..." A quick rescue involving skiing, string, torches and coffee (not laced with Aqua Velva, I mean Vitae)...Kiss #3 (wherein she kisses him back)..and now Mr. Savage turns into Simon at last.

On page 214 (out of 217 1/2)he finally declares his love for her in an absolutely fabulous way ending with, "....I've discovered that I can't face life without you, indeed I doubt if I could build another bridge..." All I can say to that is, wow (wow, and boy did we deserve a great declaration of love, because it was hard earned). They now fly back to England together, where he has a Daimler Sovereign and a house in the country that they can be married from. The end.

Rating: I'm giving this one a good solid boeuf en croute, with a tiny dollop of queen of puddings on the side. Surprised? Yeah, I was too. I have to admit, I am a sucker for an engineer, civil or not. For the most part I liked Louisa. She was tenacious in caring for her unlikeable patient (if I ever need a nurse, I would like someone like Louisa) and she wasn't soppy about her circumstances. Claudia was thoroughly unpleasant, but Betty stuck with her until the bitter end. Simon was fun to watch, although you really had to watch closely, because he didn't drop a lot of hints - and he does redeem himself pretty well with his stellar proposal.


Fashion: sage green silk jersey, dark blue nurses uniforms from Harrod's, green quilted jacket with fleecy lining, thick wool sweaters galore, waterproof poplin outfit, long skirt with quilted waistcoat.
Food: Lots and lots of porridge, lots and lots of fish - especially cod, lots and lots of soup, crisp little potatoes, a sea of vegetables, ice cream heaped with honey (???), fudge and lashings of whipped cream, cranberry jam, cranberry tart, coffee spiked with Aqua Vitae.

44 comments:

  1. In December 1981 little me went to live in a country known for cold winters. I still have fond memories of the lovely blue super wool machine washable sweaters we bought before my departure (in the men's department). I had a warm blue coat and yes! a smart little hat with a small slightly turned up brim. I had a short brown leather-cum-fur-on-the-inside-coat (a hand-me-down and no, not "ranch mink" or anything like that, the leather-cum-fur was a by-product, so to speak, its previous owner of the edible variety).
    No dresses, uncrushable or otherwise.
    I was deeply into drinking Tab at the time. No spirits added. Which brings me to the question I would like to ask? Betty Debbie, with the large variety of Norwegian brands of Aqua Vitae available http://www.google.no/search?tbm=isch&hl=no&source=hp&biw=1024&bih=584&q=aquavit&gbv=2&oq=aq&aq=1&aqi=g10&aql=&gs_sm=c&gs_upl=1768l6884l0l9257l4l4l1l0l0l0l261l694l0.1.2l3l0 why did you pick a Japanese one for the picture?
    Betty Anonymous

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    1. Sorry about the picture of a Japanese version of aqua vitae.
      I wasn't kidding when I said I always read 'aqua vitae' as 'aqua velva'. I know 'aqua velva' is(was?) an aftershave, all I know about aqua vitae is that it is some kind of alcoholic beverage generally popular in Norway.

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    2. Betty van den BetsyJanuary 19, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      'Aqua vitae', 'akvavit', 'eau de vie', 'uisce beatha' all mean "water of life" and they refer to different alcoholic beverages - the Scandinavian versions are vodka-like, but usually flavored with spices or herbs, the French eau de vie is fruit-based, like brandy, and comes in many different flavors, and the Irish version is what we call whisky. Water of life, ladies. That's right. Water of life.

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  2. Hey, where did the word "being" go? "owner being...". It was there before.

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  3. Hmmm. I gotta ask: Where's the Beef en Croete? Really? An 8.5? For a book with an heroine identity crisis, at least in my Red C. E. version. Page 17 we get a stealth change when Louisa morphs into Linda "to pass the time of day with some of the people who knew her..." Well, she was going home to StepMonster and Frank. Maybe she should have stuck with the Linda transformation and avoided a trip to the GREAT WHITE NORTH. (Take off, it's a beauty way to go.)
    Being married to an EE, I do see some similarities to Savage Simon. The need for control of the environment in order to 'fix' everyone in his family sphere. Including 1/2 sista, Claudia.
    (I know a few Claudias, Betty nailed this one! Betty Megan has some great stories about my SIL of that name and her lushiness at family parties. But, not going there.)
    However my EE has verbal diarrhea with a dollop of foot in mouth, so tight lipped Simon is not ringing many bells for me. Of Course, our Savage is an un-civil Engineer, so that may account for the difference. My EE was much sweeter in the courtship and got nit-pickier and more controlling as he aged. So I'm a little worried about Louisa/Linda.

    The whole earlier discussion about this book being horrid because nobody tells the nurse that Claudrinkia is a lush is a non-starter for me. It's a plot devise. Betty set up our young nurse so that the story could be somewhat interesting. Admit it, the outrage you feel when you realize Louisa's being kept in the dark is a satisfying emotion!

    So I'd have liked to see more hero interaction on the kisses, less traveling over the same scenery, less being duped from Lousia, or maybe start over at page 17 and let Linda take over the role. As it is, I'm giving it a solid mince tart cake (6.25)

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    1. Dear Betty Mary,
      I wouldn't want you to feel left out. Boeuf en croute / bœuf en croûte. - No, don't thank me. It was my pleasure.
      (Since I'm still learning the language I'd be most grateful if anybody ever "retaliated".)
      Unfortunately, I couldn't watch the GREAT WHITE NORTH link in my country, but thanks to your chant - er - hint I watched http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssCZWBtwUTI and it did bring back memories. Happy times indeed.
      Betty Anonymous

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    2. P. S.: Too bad Christmas is over. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1RN3cYnY9k&feature=related

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  4. I'm convinced (not based on actual, you know, evidence or anything, just the fact that nothing else makes any sense) that The Great Betty's son-in-law was the civil engineer building bridges in northern Norway. Why else would The Great Betty visit Norway so many times except to visit her daughter?

    But I also suspect that just as I'm not really clear on what it is that my computer programmer husband does, The Great Betty never really got the gist of her son-in-law's profession. You know, "Oh, what is it you do, precisely?" "I flinget the cantibellever and dongle the counterdixit until the transitimeter indicates that the blabdemel forces are in westfasbit."

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  5. Interesting theory, Betty Magdalen. And maybe family vacations in Portugal. I had thought Betty probably got too much reader feedback about nurses and doctors and decided to mix it up a bit.

    Well, despite the setting being in Norway, I'm with Betty Mary on the rating. The story was more about the nurse-patient relationship than the romance. And isn't it interesting that Claudia took on her stepfather's last name when her mother married Simon's father? It's so unlikely that I think it was a blooper on Betty's part--unless it's a British custom I'm unaware of. (Anyone notice that it's "Simon Savage" most of the time and not simply Simon or Mr. Savage?)

    And why are decent-sounding men like Lars attracted to pretty but mean women like Claudia? I agree with Betty Debbie's prediction on a troubled marriage, but Lars is probably decent enough to stick with her to the end.

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  6. 1. Betty Mary linking to Great White North?! I'm geeking out, here.
    2. Lars was probably the best looking bank manager in Scandanavia.
    3. Betty Debbie really, really likes engineers--hers being aeronautical and mine being software, they don't overlap in any other way than by being gentle inspectors moving at a glacial pace.
    4. Essie Summers has several characters (both main and peripheral)who are bridge-builders. The wives (or potential wives) will be expected to live in moveable trailers in the wayback for stretches at a time. Is that what The Great Betty foresees for Louisa?

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  7. I'm feeling just a wee bit beat up right now, sniff, but that's okay, I'm a big girl, I can take it.

    I agree that there are a lot of faults with this story. But I still like to pick it up - mostly because of its differences. Heaven Around the Corner doesn't have a carbon copy storyline, which is part of its charm for me. That, and the engineering angle.

    I like Betty Keira's notion of Louisa following Simon around to his various building projects...she's a plucky enough heroine to enjoy temporary housing in foreign parts.

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  8. Betty Debbie,
    The review is great. I've read the book more than once. Didn't like Claudia. Didn't like Louisa being kept in the dark about Claudia's condition. Why get a nurse in the first place when you don't intend to tell her why you need her? So she'll be at hand should you drink yourself into a coma once again (assuming Claudia has done this before)? The whole situation made me feel uncomfortable. And those guys Claudia hung out with...
    But I did like Louisa, even though she was a little naive at times and I quite enjoyed hating Un-civil Simon when he was beastly.
    I remember everybody picking "A Small Slice of Summer" to pieces, one of my absolute favourites in the Canon, so I kow how you must feel.
    Betty Anonymous

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  9. Betty Debbie, {{{{Hugs}}}} The review is lovely, and we all get to like what we like. Stick to your guns even when the loyal minions revolt. (See, I'm admitting I'm revolting!)
    Betty Keira, I'm such a hose head. You couldn't count the number of times I've done the "CA ROO KOO KOO KOO KOO KOO KOO, CA ROO KOO KOO KOO KOO KOO KOO" thing in my head. Good Day...
    Fist Bump Betty Lulu! (I love your Name!) You summed up the problem exactly. Louisa has more face time Claudrinkia than with her hero. I'm all for love at first site, but, man, a million sitings of this bridge building troll would not inspire coughing up the toll to cross his creation, let alone marrying him and living like a gypsy.
    Betty Magdalen - You got that right. I kept waiting for the complex Erector Set version of how to build and bridge and he gives poor Louisa/Linda and us NOTHING!
    Betty Anon - Hope you don't like the Little Dragon, too. This could get ugly! he he he

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    1. Betty Mary,
      Has anybody ever told you? You've got a very dirty laugh.
      Hähä. (Guess I don't need to translate that, eh?)
      Betty Anonymous

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  10. Awww, Betty Debbie, it's never about the reviews (which are witty, well thought out, and hilariously illustrated, as always) but it's about Betty's books. If anyone feels beat up, it should be Betty Neels on this one. The great thing about this blog is that it's a place where we can talk about Betty's books ad nauseum and share differing opinions. (My husband is amused at the concept of a Betty fan site). The controversy around The Hasty Marriage was great. By the way, where is Betty JoDee? Miss her.

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  11. Betty van den BetsyJanuary 19, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    Where is Betty JoDee? I am thinking of her strong, clear-headed position on The Hasty Marriage as I try to compose my thoughts regarding the over-salted tin of soup that is Heaven Around the Corner. If you have ever known an alcoholic who has seriously struggled with that addiction, if you've ever even been to an AA meeting, or seen a serious depiction of one in a movie, this book has almost got to be offensive. Beyond that (and since alcoholism and an alcoholic take up about 80% of the book, 'beyond that' doesn't extend far), we have: 1) a heroine who can't tell her unloved, unloving and unlovely stepmother to buzz off, and her boss, "Hey, my father's crazy widow may phone and try to make trouble for me; please ignore her."; 2) doctors who don't discuss patients' conditions with nurses; 3) the most boring party people in the world; 4) an adult who does absolutely nothing all day but nap and look at magazines; 5) an alcoholic who seems to get drunk only once (passing out at kitchen table, and what's she doing in the kitchen?), never has a black out, never falls over, slurs her words, stinks of gin or breaks anything (except, presumably, all those breakfast trays she keeps throwing); 6) a nice guy who falls, in minutes, in love with a bone-lazy, greedy, selfish drama queen; 7) a hero we assume is heroic because he's in a Harlequin, but see doing heroic things for only about ten of the 220 pages (although he does come up with a genuinely lovely proposal).

    I love the descriptions of Norway, and want to go there, but the bridge sub-theme seems limp and silly. Have them visit a bridge! Have her talk to some of the people who's lives have been changed by the bridges! Have him show her the plans, and describe some of the challenges they present! Don't just say, "he builds bridges she saw the bridge and it was pretty go build a bridge the bridge was done I may never build another bridge." You have given me *no reason* to care about these ruddy bridges.

    So very many pages of Claudia complaining could have been replaced with pages of Simon and Louisa visiting a bridge, or catching a glimpse of some reindeer, or throwing a sledding party for the village children. Or something.

    But mostly it's the 'only two drinks per day until she recovers from alcoholism' and the 'oh, never mind - now that she's in love she won't want to drink any more.' Right. 'Cause that's how it always works.

    Betty Debbie, you opened my eyes to several quiet gems -- chunks of tasty something within the swill of bland broth, perhaps -- the graphic of Louisa dropping inane remarks over the wall of Simon's indifference deserves an award. So thank you for that. But this book remains dreadful to me, and a strong contender for bottom three.

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  12. It's a small world after all...
    To make a short story long: My T & As urged me to consult an ENT specialist. Appointment? Sure, end of January with consultant 2 (partner), end of February with consultant 1. - But I'm not feeling well now. - Then you can come between 8:00 and 9:00 (a.m.) and you should bring time. - So I took a book. A slim volume that wouldn't mind being tossed about in my large stylish shopping bag doing purse duty (gift from bro&SIL). I picked a yellow Mills & Boon Enchanted. The price sticker on the back revealed that I had bought it at Amsterdam Centraal! It was a she-wanted-an-in-vitro-he-offered-to-donate-on-condition-they-be-married-at-least-until-after-the-baby-is-born-MOC. On page 8 he fell of the roof (because on page 7 "If I lean way over like this I can see..."). In the hospital he asked, "Where am I?". Amnesia. On page 17:
    "What do I do?" he asked. "For a living."

    "You're a civil engineer."

    (The book: 0263816966 )
    Thought I'd share this with you.
    Somebetty once questioned the existence of head-mirrors in modern day doctor's offices/doctor's surgeries (Brit). In 2012, they still have their place on the learned heads of ENT consultants. In addition, they use wand-like flashlights/torches (Brit) to look way down your throat.

    What struck me as kind of funny - meaning strange - was that the partner (great - er - chairside manner) repeatedly referred to patients as "customers". ?
    Betty Anonymous

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  13. I don't know where Betty JoDee is. Sometimes I wonder....Actually I got behind in the fall and kept thinking I would get this huge chunk of time to catch up (yeah, right) and so was waiting for it before I plunged back in (I do the same stupid thing when I get behind with e-mails). Maybe I'll just pick up from here, but my Fellow Bettys will have to excuse my ignorance of what has been going on. I really missed it. Plus I don't have Heaven around the Corner. AARRRGH.

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    1. Betty van den BetsyJanuary 22, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      How lovely to have you back -- and to see your impressive use of italics! In my opinion, not having Heaven Around the Corner needn't cause much aggravation, especially with a reprise of the lovely The Quiet Professor coming.

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    2. Betty Barbara here--
      Betty JoDee--Hello! and Welcome Back!!
      I will gladly send you a copy of Heaven Around the Corner-gratis! Betty Debbie has my e-mail address. We will let her play middleman/ middle Betty or whatever.......

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    3. Welcome back, Betty JoDee. (Don't know how you ladies get Blogger to accept rich text such as italics and non-English punctuations. It will always be "boeuf en croute" on my keyboard).

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    4. Well, now. That's a challenge!

      I did not know how to do italics either. Or bold print. So I googled your problem "blogger accept italics" and found this page. (Did not know how to do hyperlinks either.) If you copy the words with non-English punctuation marks or letters (like bœuf en croûte) and add them to your text does Blogger still not accept them?
      Try it out and see if it works for you. You'll see in the Preview if it does.
      Thanks to you I've learned a lot today. So thank you Betty Lulu!

      I think I've said this before: This blog is highly educational.
      Betty Anonymous

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    5. Thanks for the hearty welcome back! If I were Betty Debbie or Betty Keira, I would now insert a hyperlink to a funny scene or song, but, alas, whereas I can do bold and italics, I flunked Betty Magdalen's hyperlink class (see where Betty Barbara always pays attention in class while Betty Mary and I tend to throw spit wads--again, a hyperlink to the appropriate thread would appear here if I had not flunked hyperlink cla...) PLUS I just never find/think of the uproarious connections the Founding Bettys do.

      Thanks Betty Barbara for a copy of Heaven; I feel better about not having Heaven or The Quiet Professor for commenting (the latter in particular I have always meant to get a copy of for reasons some Bettys know). Now the Experienced Bettys will tell you mere ignorance has never stopped my jumping into the fray before....

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    6. Ha HA! Let the fun begin! Thanks, Betty Anonymous!

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    7. I've got you all beat. I can make ♥♥♥!

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    8. Betty Magdalen, ever since I read: "That should read "I ♥ The Great Betty." (which I copied and saved) I can do ♥ too! Hah! (Does that make me a copy-cat?)
      Betty Anonymous

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  14. This book is fine in my opinion (stellar review by the way) but I too cannot get over the fact that that other man/banker first finds Louisa attractive until he somehow falls madlyinlove-at-first-sight with an alcoholic lazy pity-princess. Then its implied she is cured from addiction by looking forward to 'love'. What the Brignton?!

    I hope strong willed Louisa gets a better Simon than he was in the first 200 or so pages. And she also gets better date nights than Norwegian construction crews, Sound of Music and ABBA (oh Betty, bless). Its good L is easily impressed because I have been to engineering parties, (my father is a Prof. of Engineering) and well, its never been exactly palazzo's and prosecco in my experience.
    Betty AnHK

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    1. Betty van den BetsyJanuary 24, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      Betty AnHK, what has been "palazzos and prosecco" in your experience?

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    2. Sorry, no extremely old money or titles in my family background though the German side I am married into did well for themselves in spite of the, um, wars. (Germans, sigh).
      Many parties in Venice for the film festival and biennials. Lots of dancing and drinking to the petrified soft light of ye olde worlde.

      Faux swearing - yes, please more. Will add Chicken-pot-pie and Pe-can Pie to my vernacular too, for the very reason nobody here would ever say anything like that!
      Betty AnHK

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  15. 'What the Brighton?' Bwtty AnHK, that's making it into my extensive faux-swearing vocabulary next to chicken-pot-pie.

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    1. The Spare has picked an epithet from one of his eccentric courtiers:
      (with a heavy twang) "For the love of Pe-can Pie!"

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  16. Faux-swearing and malapropisms. My two main forms of expression. I have to steal "I know all the wrong words to that song", I love it. I only wish I could blame it on the Aqua Vitae instead of rapidly approaching senlity.

    Betty von Susie

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  17. A bit of British humor: When you don't know the words to the song because you keep hearing it wrong, that's known as a "Lady Mondegreen," from the last line of a poem that should read "And laid him on the green."

    My favorite mondegreen is "Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear" which is from a hymn with the lyric: "gladly the cross I'll bear."

    Here's the Wiki article on mondegreens.

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    1. There's a million of these in hymns:
      "Bringing in the Sheaves"="Bringing in the Sheep (or Sheets--the Dowager Betty JoDee's favorite)"
      "Up from the grave He arose"="Up from the gravy rows" (The Spare's favorite)
      "'round yon virgin"="Round John Virgin"
      etc.

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    2. We've got a hymn that goes, 'by this shall men know...' and every kid manages to ask, "What's a Shameno?'

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  18. My mother's uncle was an engineer. But I have no idea what he did, because when I knew him when I was little he ran the store his wife had inherited (if I remember correctly).
    Betty Anonymous

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  19. How about "I led the pigeons to the flag, of the United States of America"....

    Betty von Susie

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    1. Oh that's a new one for me... hahahaha

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    2. Speaking of pigeons
      Today, I found this "rich text" (which I was so bold as to "enrich"):
      "...are not as polite as the ones with the blue covers (Sweets) A little read to take your mind off your troubles. I occasionally read them when I am having difficulty sleeping. I went through a Betty Neels addiction which lasted for all 134 (approximately) of her books. Betty’s were before the colour coding era but I can safely say they would have been Sweets.

      A lot of bookshops don’t sell Mills and Boon but not us. We sell them. The previous owner of my shop could never say no to exchanges of Mills and Boon to the extent were there was an estimated 10,000 of them in the old shop. I think he had little old ladies lining up every morning with bags and baskets full. In sheer desperation one of his offsiders boxed them up and put them in the laneway behind the shop under a couple of those cheap blue plastic tarpaulins. The area was frequented by pigeons. Say no more. When it came time to move I said I can’t possibly touch them and they mysteriously disappeared. I found out later they were kindly donated to a local charity. I didn’t ever tell them about the pigeons."
      Betty Anonymous

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  20. As a former employee (for 7 years) of an engineering/architectural firm, I knew a few Simons, although the ones I can think of who were most like him were EEs, not CEs.

    I wish I enjoyed this more -- I also wish the DRs had come a little sooner on both sides. But it fits nicely in the middle of my list of favorites.

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