Monday, August 20, 2012

Saturday's Child--Reprise

Good day, Bettys!
One of my favorite parts of Saturday's Child is Bolly, our heroine's faithful (and poorly paid) family retainer.  He does a bit of cooking on the side and probably fills in all sorts of cracks.  During my firs tri-mester of indisposition, I wish I had a Bolly to cluck around me, concoct some tasty morsels to tempt my palate and take the four pledges of affection off to have an airing at the park.  Alas, I have no Bolly.  Instead, I'm spending the day watching my sister-in-law's toddler all day for her Anniversary celebrations.  She doesn't know I'm Anticipating a Happy Event yet, so it'll have to be 'Lies. Wicked lies...' which sneakiness will have to comfort me while I change a strange baby's nappy.
Another thing that always endears me to this book is how off-balance our hero is.  His kisses are 'inexpert', Abagail knows he's in love with her before he does, and he will keep forgetting that as the hired help she deserves a pay packet at the end of the week.
Love and Lardy cakes!
Betty Keira

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Abigail was the name of the third wife of King David in the Old Testament who referred to herself as David's "handmaid" which paved the way for its use in literature for a lady's servant.
As an English name, Abigail first became common after the Protestant Reformation, and it was popular among the Puritans. It eventually became slang for 'servant' and grew less common.

Bored yet? Don't be. Miss Abigail Trent is all about living up to her name. Because she was born on a Saturday her parents thought it would be a good joke to give her a name that was synonymous with work. That sounds a little mean to me. Now that her last remaining parent is dead and gone, Abigail is going to have to work hard for her money. Girlfriend has skills - she's a nurse, which in most cases would be a slam dunk, living wise...but she has a dependent. No, it's not a dog...or a cat...or a sibling. It's faithful family retainer, Bollinger aka, Bolly. He used to be the gardener, back when Abby's pastures were greener and her parents were viable, but lately he's been doing everything pro-bono - and Abigail owes him. In order to make bigger bucks, Abby signs on with an agency - it's not so much that she'll be earning more than at a hospital, but with temp work comes quicker paychecks. The sooner she gets paid, the sooner she can discharge her debt to Bolly. Nevermind the current economic climate...Abigail seems to have jobs thrust on her whether she wants them or not. Mostly she wants them.
Job #1:
Her first job takes her to Holland. Private nurse to the twice-widowed Clara Morgan. Yes, she's a lonely spoiled American, but she isn't really bad at heart, just shallow and ill. Her doctor brings along a specialist...who must be some sort of surgeon who specializes in gastroenterology. Professor van Wijkelen is a moody giant. Besides surgery, he specializes in icy sneers and scathing put-downs. That's okay, Abby can take it - she's made of stern stuff. Not only is she tough, but she can read him like a cheap novel - "40 or more and unhappy - though I don't suppose he knows it." She's not the only good reader - he notices that she's unhappy but hides it. Abby runs into Prof. van Wijkelen at the post office while trying to send money to England for Bolly. It's evidently harder than it looks, but the Professor volunteers to drop it by when he's in London.
Job #2Professor van Wijkelen asks Abigail to stay on in Holland to 'special' Professor de Wit. Luckily Abby finds out that Professor van Wiljkelen's first name is Dominic - lucky for me that I don't have to write out the full names of BOTH Professors. Also, less confusing. We'll call him Dominic from now on, even though Abigail doesn't yet. Strange letter from Bolly...don't send any money for a while. Bolly and Dominic had an interesting discussion back in London and reached an understanding. Bolly is now working for Dominic. In Holland. Which means that Abby can now visit him during her off hours. She makes darn sure to visit when Dominic is scheduled to be in surgery...there's only so many icy sneers one person should have to be exposed to - otherwise she's gonna need to invest in a parka - and her wages won't stretch that far. Bolly likes Dominic - even if he is a bit of a toff.
Time for a kitten rescue! And a Dawning Realization. Dominic may be rough and gruff, but Abby's pretty sure that underneath his forbidding demeanor there's a teddy bear. She's seen a glimpse, but that's all. She has no illusions about him ever falling for her plain, plump self, she would just like him to be happy (but hey, miracles happen, right?).
Job #3
Now that Professor de Wit is on the mend, Dominic comes up with another job for Abigail. There's a Mrs. Macklin, widow of a Scottish Presbyterian parson who could use some help for a week or two. She's recently had a bout of...well, really, who cares? She's in need of some light nursing and Abigail is just the person to do it. Dominic is horribly conflicted - he is disturbed by this young woman...and he doesn't want to be. In the meantime, Abigail offers to go pick up Mrs. Macklin's cat from the kitty hotel...and has to use 30 gulden of her own dwindling supply. This is the first time working for Dominic has cost her money, it won't be the last. Dominic takes a break from his icy sneering to invite Abigail to go with him to the hospital ball. It's a dream come true, but Cinderella doesn't have a ball gown. Dominic offers to go shopping at a fancy (read: expensive) boutique and help her pick something out. No thanks, Abigail has got to watch her nickels and gulden. He does convince her to choose a pink gown instead of a dowdy grey one. Mrs. Macklin suggests a crippled dressmaker, Abigail goes shopping for pink silk and chiffon, then gets drunk on the excitement and buys silver slippers and a matching handbag. Mrs. Macklin provides a sable coat. Question: Where does the widow of a Presbyterian parson come up with a sable coat? Too bad Abby checks the coat when they get to the dance - Dominic dances like he does everything else...with a chilly remoteness. He does thaw out enough to escort Abby to dinner...and to ask her to take on another job. There is an outbreak of salmonella at the hospital - and they are short staffed. And btw, you look charming and that dress is the bomb.
Umm. Thanks, but I would have taken the job without you softening me up. Smooth move, Exlax.
Editor's Note: I have a theory. Dominic has the emotional maturity of an amoeba.
Dominic does ask Abigail to dance again - to apologize, but Abigail is too busy giving her impersonation of a Chatty Cathy doll. Our frustrated hero gives it another go after the ball.
Him: We're going to stand out here in the cold until I say what I have to say!
Her: Yes, sir?
Him: Stop throwing my age at me every time you open your mouth!
Her: What rubbish you talk!
Him: I really wasn't 'softening you up' are charming. Really. Really, really.
Abigail is then treated to an inexpertly given kiss. I find it rather charming that Dominic is out of practice. Abigail is having a tough time figuring him out. One moment he looks at her like he dislikes her, next, he's kissing her. What's a girl to think? She's thinking that maybe he kissed her because it was dark - in the stark light of day she wouldn't have stood a chance.
Dominic is still very unsure of her and unsure of his own feelings.
Job #4
Three days later and Abigail is back at the hospital helping deal with the salmonella outbreak. Dominic is eyeing her warily in the aftermath of his awkward snog. His moodiness is the stuff of legend. He now has the chance to show some temper - he's angry that Abby is working overtime. Abby tells him to calm down 'it's nothing to lose your cool over.' He cools down enough to give her another kiss...this time he seems like he's been putting in a little practice (on whom, I wonder). Abby is completely bewildered by his snogging one minute, icy sneers the next. Mrs. Macklin is more than happy to tell her The Sad Tale of Dominic's Past.
*Married young.
*Wife was beautiful but very hoochy.
*Wife was killed in a car accident with a boyfriend.
*Dominic's pride was damaged, nearly beyond repair.
*Dominic has lost his trust in women.
Abby accompanies Mrs. Macklin and Professor de Wit to a concert - where they are joined by Dominic. Who proceeds to hold hands with Abby in the dark. Awww. I guess it's on again. He goes so far as to tell her she's beautiful and honest and kind....but he's afraid it might not be real, and yes, he's a coward about love. 'Once bitten, twice shy. And I'm very shy', says he. So what does he do? He tells her that her services at the hospital are no longer needed and she's free to go back to London. He does take her to the station - where he confesses to being sentimental and vows to forget it. That's not the only thing he's going to forget.
Job #5Abigail finally makes it back to England, in spite of the fact that Dominic forgot to pay her. The only job going is a grossly underpaid gig taking care of a lady with the delirium tremens. Lucky for her, Dominic has badgered Bolly into giving him the phone number of the agency and Dominic needs a nurse. ASAP. His niece has swallowed 3 pesetas. Oh, and she lives in Spain. Dominic will drive down from Holland - and would Abby please take a train to Southampton and catch a ship? What? I forgot to pay you? You can pick up your money and a generous travel allowance at the bank. Two days later they meet up on the dock...she's saying goodbye to a young man. Dominic practically trips over himself in his rush to assume that Abby enjoyed being chatted up by the younger man. Silly, silly Dominic. I shall not detail the trip from Spain to Holland. Suffice it to say it was 920 miles and they take a day and a half. Dominic is very quick to volunteer the info that he only asked her to come because he trusts a NURSE. He's still not ready to trust women yet...but she'll be spending the night at his house.
Abby takes care of niece Nina at the hospital after her surgery (lucky Nina - her uncle is just exactly the kind of surgeon she needs).
Job #6
Dominic just can't seem to let Abby go...he convinces her to come back to his place and take care of Nina until her father can come get her. Dominic starts to get a little friendlier, and by friendlier, I mean he takes a few liberties such as snogging her while she is in her frumpy bathrobe. Abby looses her head and whispers Dominic darling in his ear. More than once. There's no stuffing that genii back in the bottle, but things are definitely starting to look up...
Job #7...and then he gets her another temp job back at the hospital. He's off to BRUSSELS!!?! for a couple of days, and he'd like to have a heart to heart talk with Abby when he returns. In the meantime, please call me Dominic - you've said it before. It's really too bad he's going to Brussels...nothing good ever happens in the Neels version of Brussels. The first thing he sees when he gets back is Abby having a laugh with Registrar Henk. He assumes they are laughing about him - so he fires Abby and sends her off without references or the back salary he owes her. She is so mad she wants to leave Amsterdam - but she can't afford to go to London. Mrs. Macklin suggests she go to Friesland and help out a friend of hers. No pay, but she does get room and lodging and some free lessons in Dutch. This is all well and good, but girlfriend needs to earn some money so she can return to Mother England, so she gets a job...
Job #8
...shelving gherkins in a village shop. It is here that Dominic finally runs her to ground. Or rather, to ladder. Abigail is up on a ladder dusting said gherkins when in walks the love of her life. What follows is one of the most delightful denouements in Neeldom. Ever. Abby holds her and makes Dominic positively grovel before she'll accept him.
'I'm here making two gulden an hour because you haven't paid me! Not for weeks! You sent me away without any references and didn't even bother to ask if I had somewhere to go, just like a Victorian servant girl; for all you cared I might have gone on the streets!'
Dominic is gobsmacked and abjectly apologetic, as well he should be.
'Begin as you mean to go on' is her new motto. The End.
Rating: I dearly love this book! It's a bit on the longish side..and could have benefited from an editor who wasn't afraid to chop a job or two, but other than that, it's great. Dominic is icy, grumpy, moody, irascible, bad tempered, etc...but I get him. He has allowed his hurt pride to paint him into an emotional corner and he's been cowering there in a fetal position for far too long. It takes time and effort for him to unbend and accept the fact that he's in love and Abby is a truly good person. I even forgive him for not paying her - it just goes to show that he never thought of her as an employee. Abigail is pretty wonderful herself. She is unusually aware of Dominic's feelings - she knows before he does that he has feelings for her...she just isn't sure he'll be able to act on them - or if he'll just go all icy again. Queen of Puddings!
Fashion: pink organza with matching satin underslip made by a crippled dressmaker, tight brown velvet which she hopes doesn't pop its seams, brown and oatmeal tweed skirt with a brown sweater and a gay little neckcloth, a despised red wooly dressing gown.
Food: eggs and chips, milk and water in equal parts with afters of Mist.Mag.Tri. (for Clara Morgan) beef olives, cheese straws, erwten soup with yoghurt for afters, bitterballen, asparagus tips and herbs thickened with tapioca??, hare soup.


  1. Definitely the first, and the best, of the HEAs to take place in a grocer's.

  2. "...shelving gherkins in a village shop."

    Wonderful, hysterical recap.

    I love "Saturday's Child" too. A lot. I read it at least once a year. It was like the third or fourth Betty book I ever read (many, many years ago), and Abigail has a special place in my heart.

    Up until your recap, I never understood that's why he kept forgetting to pay her. I've always chalked it up to his strong feelings (usually cold anger that she's leaving) for the neglect, but you're absolutely correct about the employee aspect. It goes along with his irritation that she keeps using the servant's entrance instead of the front door when she visits Bolly. Also, I do love the phone conversation between Dominic and Abigail in the nursing agency when he tells her to go to his bank, etc.

    And the denouement is perfection. I wholeheartedly agree. I adore that she climbs down from the ladder to deal with the customer and then climbs back up the ladder and then eventually does the jump into Dominic's arms.

    I'm going to go have a Betty daydream now. Thank you for the recap.

    1. Saturday's Child has always been a favourite of mine. Didn't start until late last night and fell under the story's spell again. Basque Country - Hey, I was just going to write that I used to see a Betty reader from the Basque Country on the "globe thingy" Conquering the World widget. And there is one just now from Bilbao! Hello, Betty in (or around) Bilbao, nice to see you. Have you read Saturday's Child?

  3. Yep, I agree that he didn't think of her as an employee. And as someone who worked for 30+ years as a volunteer and homemaker without pay, all men have that opinion. Women should do the work because they love it! YIKES
    Gots ta go, I have a paying job now! ha ha ha

    Love this book. Now I have a #3!

  4. I'm never going to live down my off-the-cuff "globe thingy" comment, am I? This is one of my top 5 books, I wish I had a Bolly. I like how her parents named her Abigail because of her Saturday birth, and his name is Dominic which was a name traditionally given to boys born on Sunday (of the Lord).
    There's a weekend joke in there somewhere but I can't figure
    it out....

    B von S

  5. Couldn't figure out why Dominic goes to Brussels......note the news today about the Muscles from Brussels:

    Belgians. Can't live with them, can't kick them out of NATO....

    1. HAHAHAHA. Thanks for the chuckle, Army Betty.

    2. Kylie Minogue and Jean-Claude van Damme? Frankly, Colossus and Annie seem like a more sensible couple.

    3. Oh, please! I've just eaten. It would have been abnormal not to have had an affair??? I wonder how his wife felt about that. Lilac linen jacket? The man did not age well. What am I saying? 51 is no age. To look like that.

  6. I was born on a Saturday so maybe the poem explains my life. ha My mom was cooking breakfast for a houseful of company, and I decided to make my appearance a month early. I'm sure she had me just to entertain the company. She denies this.

    This book is #6 on my top 10 list. There is just something about the ladder scene at the end that grabs my heart and gives it a squeeze every time I read it.

    Betty AnoninTX

  7. Does nobody find Dominic just a little bit strange?

    1. He is, however, the once-burnt-twice-shy-est RDD in the Canon.

    2. Umm I am a newbie to this blog, but just want to say thank you as a long term Betty fan.

      Love this book and love the review. :-)

  8. Thanks for the chuckle, Army Betty.

    thanks for sharing...