Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Betty by the Numbers: Cross-over Characters

You know this moment, right?  You’re reading along in your current Betty, and the hero says to the heroine, “I’d like you to meet some friends of mine,” and you think, “Oooh, oooh, please let them be Clotilde Claribel Fothergill-Fox and her husband, Eduard Everard Tait-ter Teylingen!”  And it is!  Or it’s someone else you’ve met in a prior volume, and when the H&H drop by for their visit, Domus opens the door, and Bep brings the tea tray, and Charlie and Beauty thump welcoming tails against the flowered carpet in the exquisite-yet-lived-in drawing room, where Clotilde Claribel has cast down her knitting on a Regency piecrust table in order to play a rowdy-in-a-well-mannered-way game of Happy Families with Eduard Jr. and his little sister, Maisie (real name Megan Matilda, but we call her Maisie in honor of the ward maid who helped bring us together).  Yaaay!!  From all these warm details, and the way Doctor Baron gazes adoringly at his cashmere-and-silk swathed wife, you know there really is such a thing as happy ever after! 
Yay!  Perfect bliss is attainable!
These are cross-over characters, and they appear in 32, or 24%, of Betty Neels’s novels.  The first such occasion is in the third novel, Blow Hot, Blow Cold (later Surgeon from Holland and then Visiting Consultant) (1969), wherein Sophy has the pleasure of meeting Max’s dear friends Coenraad and Adelaide, from TGB’s very first outing, Sister Peters in Amsterdam (1969).  At that point, they have a baby boy (copyright dates, I’m sure, not premature Brighton visits).  A few books later, Coenraad the Younger, nicknamed Champers, has an 18-month old sister, Lisa, and Adelaide has a Bath bun in her oven (or maybe a Baarn bun) when Deborah and Gerard visit with the Blankenaar van Essens in 1973, in Stars Through the Mist.
Aderaad (get it?  Like ‘Brangelina’ and ‘TomKat’?) are not the only couple to appear in multiple future volumes.  Three others also make two cross-over appearance, and Chrisert of Not Once But Twice (1981) re-appear not twice but three times, the last cameo in 2000’s Dearest Eulalia, when Christina is a handsome 45-year old who has pledged her affection to Duert to the extent of three sons and one daughter, all of them offstage.  We did meet the kiddies tangentially in 1999’s A Good Wife, but then there were only two sons and the daughter, all grown enough to pass trays of titbits.  So at 44 she birthed her final babe, with three well-grown siblings ahead of him?  Yikes.  A Good Wife also offers a poignant moment when Serena meets the ter Brandt children’s puppy, by which we may infer that Thomas, Duert’s dog in 1981, has gone to the Happy Hearth beyond our mortal reach.





Puppy ter Brandt senses danger!  She will relax when she realizes it’s only Serena, come to help sort woolies for the jumble sale.

So in all we count five multiple-recurrers, for 5% of the books.  There’s another 23 couples who chalk up a single future visit, for 17% of our total hero/heroine headcount.  So 28 couples make 34 appearances in 32 other books, which I can explain by noting that four books include visits from two sets of hey-I-know-yous.  Dearest Eulalia is the last book to include cross-over characters, and one of the double-features:  we get both Christina and Duert and Daisy and Jules (Dales?  Juisy?) from the prior year’s Discovering Daisy, along with three-week old Julius.  (Julius is named not for dad, as is usual in Neelsland, but for dad’s dad, but then, it’s practically the same name.)
The other three books with multiple special guest stars are all from the early 1970s, with Aderaad and Domigail (Saturday’s Child, 1972) both showing up in Stars Through the Mist (1973); the BH,BC/SfH/VC crowd and the Saturday’s Child crew both popping up in The Gemel Ring (1974); and the van Amstels and the van Beeks (Uncertain Summer, Tabitha in Moonlight, both 1972) both mixing and mingling with the van der Graafs at The End of the Rainbow (1974).
I am starting to feel dizzy as I consider the task of interconnecting all the connections here – Aderaad met Max and Sophy, and also Gerard and Deborah, and Maphy met Everard and Charity, who also met Gerorah...
A cup of tea with my feet up, and I felt ready to tackle the overlaps again.  I found it easier to do by expanding my crossover chart.  There are 18 clusters of crossings-over, from ten simple two-book matches – like Hariso show up in A Matter of Chance (1977), and then we never hear about any of them again – to the six-book hopscotch of Chrisert appearing in A Girl Named Rose (1986), whose H&H have a cameo in The Doubtful Marriage, plus we see Chrisert in A Good Wife and Dearest Eulalia, the latter of which also offers the visit, mentioned above, from Daisy and Jules.  All clear now?






Not actually me, nor actually tea.  But the spirit of the thing is right.

Look at the chart, please, for visual clarification.  I think it helps, especially page three.
Interesting to note that, although 33% of Neels heroes are UKish (UKean?  anyway, 32% English and 1% Scottish), only 7% of recurring heroes are English – Gerard Grenfell and Guy Bowers-Bentinck (Heidelberg Wedding, 1984, and The Chain of Destiny, 1989).  We’ve got slightly less of a disparity on the receiving end:  four, or one-eighth, of the books that host cross-overs have English heroes.  Still, this inter-book visiting is primarily the prerogative of the Dutchmen.  I wonder if Betty liked them better?
The most plot-essential cross-over characters are Georgina and Julius from Damsel in Green (1970), who are critical to the evolving romance of Tishy and Jason in A Small Slice of Summer (1975), as are the baby Ivo van den Berg Effert, who enables both hero and heroine to show off their infant-caring skills, and toddler Polly, whom Tison must rescue from goring, thus clearly demonstrating they’re made for each other.  We also catch up with Julius’s cousins, including Karel, whom Letitia loves like a brother but how could Jason know that, and the peace and serenity of both Dalmers Place in Essex and whatever the vdBE estate in Maarternsdijk is called, plus of course the Leggs, the Stephenses, Ginger, Toto, Robby, Andersen and Flip.  Honestly, A Small Slice of Summer is about 30% Georgina and Julius.  Good thing I love them so. 



Not this...
...more like this





Another critical crossover is Chrissy and Duert’s in A Girl Named Rose (1986), as they provide the badly-injured Duert, Jr. whom Gold Medalist Rose Comely must nurse.  Yes, that’s right – Chrissy is a skilled nurse herself, but she’s highly preggers with the second of her brood of three or four, and therefore needs an assist.  She returns the favor by inviting Rose back to Den Haag for a vacation where she can meet her Sybren again, for the additional pining and cross-purposing that eventually leads to marriage.  And then Rose pays it forward when she routs old friend and troublemaker Nikky van Wijk from the van Kempler drawing room.  (Nikky is striving to raise even further the doubtful-quotient in The Doubtful Marriage (1987) of Matilda and Rauwerd.)  How does one rout an old friend and troublemaker, you ask?  Rose’s method is to brandish a baby-carrier, speak a few home truths, and not take any guff.
One of the most poignant crossovers has got to be Sarah and Hugo’s (Fate is Remarkable, 1970) visit to the van Amstels (Uncertain Summer), during which TGB introduces the year-old twins Hugo (of course) and Rosemary, named for the congestive-heart-failure afflicted patient, Mrs. Brown, whose final months Hurah made happier with cat-care, garish cabbage-rosed wallpaper and copious quantities of tea.  Her dying words:  “Me name’s Rosemary – it’s a nice name for a little girl.”  Another good one, many years and volumes later, is when Fran Manning van Rijgen leaves The Secret Pool to visit her Old School Friend Lucy Lockitt, The Girl with Green Eyes (1990), during which visit she reveals that her and Litrik’s daughter is named Lisa, in memory of the baby’s sadly-deceased big sister.  Talk about poignant.  On a side note, I believe this is the only cross-over where the heroine knows her predecessor character – in every other case, we meet through the hero.

“Rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”













Overall, Mrs. Neels kept her characters reasonably sociable; 38% of her books, 51 in total, include characters who will meet their literary successors in a later book, who do meet their literary predecessors from a prior book, or both.  In fact, eight of her novels – that’s 6% – hit that “both” threshold.   Check the chart for details, will you?  I need another tea break, or possibly a medicinal sherry.
Also not me; also not tea; nor yet sherry.  And yet...

49 comments:

  1. Betty Barbara here--
    Betty van den Betsy--you rock!! That is awesome work. Thank you, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My word, the "new and improved graphic" is truly awesome. Page 3!!! Brilliant. As is the new BbtN. Aderaad, Chrisert...Pffft!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh. My. Word. My head is spinning. You are amazing. LOVE the spreadsheet!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I shall hereby call you Queen. >bowing<

    I loved reading Uncertain Summer and reading that Hugo and Sarah named their daughter Rosemary. Tears welled.

    Betty AnoninTX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's something to make everyone smile: I'm drinking a cup of Horlicks!! I really am! I found it, along with McVities Digestives, at World Market today. It's not half bad.

      Betty AnoninTX

      Delete
    2. Awww, Horlicks. What a find. Does it help you sleep?

      Delete
    3. I think it did help a bit. I think it was the power of suggestion. It tastes like liquid Malt-O-Meal cereal.

      Betty AnoninTX

      Delete
  5. Little Polly was the one in danger of being gored.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ladies, your site is fabulous! What a pleasure to have found this resource. (Here's my favourite observation so far: "The trips down to Much Hadham each weekend create a tension most easily defined within the concept of the "Sphere of Influence". The Professor is to Japan during the height of WWII as Meg is to Taiwan." I may frame this! Surely the only time Betty Neels and Japan/Taiwan relations have ever appeared in the same. . . sentence? Article? No, world. In the same world.)

    Quick question: Christmas will be upon us soon; will you post anything on Christmas scenes? They are the best. My books with good Christmas scenes are hoarded on one side of the shelf and doled out judiciously, so they won't get too used up.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello All Betty gals :)This is Betty Meetu, an ardent fan of Betty Neels from India. Just wanted to say that I love reading this blog, and it keeps me coming back for and more :)After being a silent spectator for months on this blog and its wide appeal all over the world, I have finally had to speak my heart out that this is a most worthwhile and a lovely way of keeping Betty's beautiful work alive for years to come...I simply love that we can discuss everything from the book and even get recipes for the delicious food Betty's words entice us with!
    I especially loved this article about crossover appearances.. I especially like and remember the one about Fran Van Rijgen does for Lucy Lockitt in "The Girl with Green eyes", it is one of my most-read Betty books :) Thanks for the lovely site gals, keep them going! my eyes are going to be glued onto the on-goings here for sure :)Cheers :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome, Betty Meetu! (a bit belatedly; sorry) Do you realize you are the third commenter from India? We hear from Mrs. Betty Fife sometimes, and then Betty Ramaa chimed in just last month. I really hope we'll get to know you a bit better. How did you discover The Great Betty?

      Delete
    2. Hello Betty van den Betsy :) I apologize for this long a delay in response!(almost two years!! whew!) ...All this time, I was just wondering whether any of you read my post...and I thought I lost the thread and was never able to check up on any response.. but as the Great betty says, Its 'Never too late' :). All the same, I kept being the silent spectator as ever, and here I am finally responding , and still with you till the end :) (i hope that's not coming too soon though!.:(...)

      I am very happy to know two other people wrote in from India, and I hope there were more after I last commented :)
      Actually, my meeting with the Great Betty was pure chance...about few years ago, when I was sifting through paperbacks in an old bookstore in India.. I was trying various mills&boon editions to find those stories which comforted my romantic needs. I bought my very first Betty Neels, 'A Girl named Rose'. At first, honestly, the medical details began to go over my head a bit... But I actually read that book 3 times… And Betty just grew and grew on me. Somewhere, I found comfort in her predictability, her depictions of the solid determined young women, and the RDDs , and the fact that I knew nothing would go wrong and the end will be happy...all this topped with 'lashings of whipped cream'- the beautiful details of the glorious picture the Great Betty's words painted in my mind... the food, the travel, the clothes and of course- the romance. It was after this first book, that I hunted down a few more Betty books( I found the ‘Daughter of the manor’ and ‘The Girl with green eyes’ to my delight:)) at the same store and there was no looking back ever since :) I felt a joy that I could call pure...It is probably the lack of lusty descriptions and soaring passions, that made her stories find more focus on the other joys of everyday life, like the sumptuousness of a good meal, the comfort of an Uncrushable jersey dress, the first time one of the characters falls in love ...it sounded more real and surreal at the same time! I don't know how that can happen ;) I can just go on, but I fear I have babbled a lot, so let me save up my talk for the rest of the topics. I should probably comment more on the topics, guess it will keep me from babbling all over one topic like this one ;)
      The world of Betty Neels is very special to me, and this amazing blog makes it all the more special! :)
      Thank you Betty van den Betsy and rest of the Betty gals :) More power and love to all of you :)
      Betty Meetu

      Delete
    3. Welcome back! And thank you for such a detailed response. It's fascinating to think of Betty's fantasy England of the 40s resonating in 21st century India. I like to think it's the carbohydrates; a universal comfort.

      I've been re-reading Jennifer Crusie recently, who's practically the anti-Betty. She's contemporary, soft-core, Brighton-bound and full of independent-minded, wise-cracking Americans who push for what they want -- at times to criminal extent. She does love pets, though, and eternal true love, and the dialogue crackles. These are not tea-time romances, though...

      Keep commenting, please, Betty Meetu. Let us know what new Bettys you find in your local shops.

      Delete
  8. Does anyone know how to publish to the blog as other than anonymous?
    Marge in Minnesota

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marge in Minnesota, you could become a member (and get a Google account - careful when you fill in the "forms", you don't want your full name and email address to be visible).
      Or, you could get an OpenID.

      What is OpenID?

      Delete
    2. Betty von Susie, for example, is a member but chooses to comment anonymously. So you see, there are so many choices...

      Delete
    3. HEY! I may be anonymous at the top of my comments but I sign "Susie" at the bottom, so I'm not reaallllyyy anonymous, now am I? What is Betty Anonymous' real first name?

      Betty von Susnonymous

      Delete
    4. Hey, I meant you
      Reply as: Select profile... Anonymous,
      not using your Google Account, so we don't get to see your beautiful tulip pattern picture every time you comment.
      Not telling. Unlike you I am reeeally anonymous. My first name is, uh, not very common, at least I have never met anyone by that name. In Friesland it can also be a name for boys. And there is a Dutch writer of children's literature who shares my first name. I think I once gave one of her books as a gift to a person whose first name was in the title, while my first name was on the cover of the book, too.

      Delete
    5. Here are my guesses:
      Miffy/Sjoukje/Jody/Doutzen/Gerke/Heike/Weibke?
      Jip or Janneke?

      Betty von Susie

      Delete
    6. It has to be a name for boys and girls. And no, it's not Rumpelstiltskin. Miffy? Hahaha.

      Delete
    7. Well the only boy/girl one I saw was "Jan" and you said unusual and thats not unusual at all. Unless you're a Jan-Willem. I did run across "Boxes for Katje" while looking at childrens authors names and it made me cry my eyes out. I wonder if the real Katje is still alive?

      B von S

      (Miffy is a cute bunny rabbit in Dick Bruna books)

      Delete
    8. Hey, B v S, I know Miffy – under her Dutch name! Nijntje. Want to read along in Dutch? Stay on the Dutch page, click on Nijntje in the circle (bottom right), then click on the book "nijntje en nina" and listen to the story in Dutch! What a lovely website. Pencils: I started colouring in one of the pictures and the lady in the off told me what colours I was using (in Dutch). Drum: I composed a tune on the xylophone and recorded it! I am so proud of myself.

      Delete
    9. I played with Nijntje too, so cute!

      B von S

      Delete
  9. Betty van den Betsy, I love it when Georgina tries to matchmake Jason with Tishy. I love it when Rose shows Nasty Nikky the door at Tilly and Rauwerd's home. I love it when Serena flees to Sarah van Elven and finds her husband Gijs is already there because Sarah told tales. Ha! Telling tales is cricket. I love the picture of the little "Yay! Perfect bliss is attainable!"-girl. Perhaps it's just my imagination, but I believe I can see you in that little girl.

    ☐ Not actually me.
    ☐ Also not me.
    ☐ Yes, it's ungrammatically me.

    Speaking of little girls. The little girl in me chose Hello Kitty for lunch today with my mom's homemade apple compote (made with homemade vanilla sugar). Yummy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The vanilla sugar came out of a package, after all, but gave the apple compote a lovely flavour.

      Delete
  10. Yesterday, I was busy surfing the internet but I kept an eye on the Conquering the World widget and saw several people from the Netherlands, the majority of them from Betty places. Astonishing. I saw someone from Amsterdam, from Haarlem, Houten, Enschede, Tilburg and from Dalfsen and Vianen. And there was also someone from Willemstad, Netherlands Antilles.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Incredible. So many visitors online today who actually live in Betty places.
    Amersfoort
    Ashford
    Arnhem
    Cologne
    Lisbon
    London
    Southampton
    Toronto
    Vianen
    I see B v S. Yoohoo!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh, how I love Betty by the Numbers. Particularly after meeting the fabulous Betty van den Betsy in person. And the charts! Those spectacular charts! They put Pentagon PowerPoint Rangers to shame!

    Since I have 85 more books to read....am going after the connections first.

    So much Betty out there...so little time.....thank the good Lord I'm an insomniac!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great picture, Army Betty! Tried to find a quote to match which I had in mind, more or less. Well, safe for the despondency...

      Delete
    2. It's from many years ago. My third grader was appalled at my lack of a logo and dug this up. She is far more adept at All Things Internet than I am, which is unnerving....

      Delete
    3. Good for her. Far more adept, huh? I daresay I would find that unnerving, too.

      Delete
    4. save for the despondency - I wonder where my red pen is now... I miss it badly.

      Delete
    5. If you're going to sink into "a life of quiet desperation" without your pen I guess you can have it back. Ignore the toothy marks.

      B von S

      Delete
    6. Aw, gee thanks, B von S, I'm feeling better already.

      Delete
  13. Minnesota Marge here. I have already signed up but I guess the gmail name is less descriptive than "Marge in Minnesota" or "Marge in MN". So I guess I will continue to publish anonymous.

    It amazes me how many people around the world read Betty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betty Marge inMN, I’m still not willing to give up. I don’t know what will be visible on your screen. If you have not joined the Members you may see some other form to fill in, entirely, but try this:
      1. Click on the Join this site button above the members’ pictures.
      2. Click on the google button.
      3. Sign in. – You should see “yourself“ above the members’ pictures in place of the Join this site button.
      4. Click on options underneath “yourself“ , then
      5. Click on site settings.
      You should be able to see you profile now. (???) If so,
      6. Click on Edit basic information and change the Name you want other people to see.

      It is also amazing to see how many people from around the world visit this page. Today I have seen people from London(United Kingdom), Vienna(Austria), Paris(France), Geneva(Switzerland), Rotterdam(Nederland), Wilrijk(Belgium), Brisbane(Australia), Eagle Mountain(Utah), Baltimore(Maryland), Victoria(BC,Canada), Bhawanipatna(India), Quarry Bay(Hong Kong).
      Marysville(Washington) - yoohoo, Betty Debbie!
      Betty van den Tenacious to the Last Anonymous

      Delete
    2. Ok. My account on TUJD has a name and windmill photo. But when I reply or post do I then have to create an Google Blogger account as well as a gmail account?
      Betty Marge MN.

      Delete
    3. Betty Marge MN, no, you do not have to create a Google Blogger account. (That is for those who want to create their own blog.)
      Here is what you do have to do: (Step 1 - 5 from above again)
      1. Click on the Join this site button above the members’ pictures.
      2. Click on the google button.
      3. Sign in. – You see "yourself" above the members’ pictures in place of the Join this site button.
      4. Click on Options underneath "yourself" , then
      5. Click on site settings. You can see your profile now. Underneath the block with you picture in it you see
      Settings for The Uncrushable Jersey Dress

      You are following anonymously.
      6. Click on anonymously. A new window will open up.
      7. Click on the round button in front of Follow publicly, the green dot will be there now.
      8. Click on Save.
      Et voilá! You will now see:
      Settings for The Uncrushable Jersey Dress

      You are following publicly.

      9. Close the window.
      (If you like, you can click on Options to Sign out. You don't have to stay signed in. Whenever you want to comment you Select profile... Google account and then be asked to sign in.)

      Oh, almost forgot, when you hit the Publish or Preview button and blogger has finished processing your comment you may see nothing, your comment may not be there. Simply press Ctrl + f5 (f5 = at the top of your keyboard, which you probably know) to reload the page and then your comment will appear.
      Can't wait to see that windmill!

      Delete
    4. Forgot to mention that I had to add the photo again in site settings for it to be visible next to my comments. Before I did that the white on orange Blogger B showed up.

      Delete
    5. I already was following publicly. When choosing to reply to a post --every time i use--google--it takes me to the e blogger page. Still anonymous in MN. Marge

      Delete
    6. Betty Marge in MN, this is getting curiouser and curiouser. Were you signed in when you hit the Publish or Preview button? If not, then you will be led to this page where you have to sign in, i.e. enter your Email and Password and hit enter or click on Sign in. (When the signing in process is finished, I always have to reload the page for my comment to reappear.)
      If you sign in first before writing your comment, below the members pictures Already a member? Sign in, a window with this image will open up. When you click on Google you will be led to the Google Accounts page where you are required to enter you Email and Password to sign in. (Sorry, for making you read all this possibly useless information.) When you are signed in before writing your comment then you should not be led to the blogger page again when hitting the Publish or Preview button. (Still may have to reload the page.) And if you are still led to an entirely different blogger page... (Betty A. keeping a stack of beautifully laundered hankies at hand... ) could you then make a link to that page or copy the URL for me? I would dearly love to see it before bursting into tears.)

      Delete
    7. I have spotted your windmill in the members block! (One tear less to be shed.)

      Delete
    8. Betty Marge in MN--I bought some really nice embroidered hankies in Spain. I will get one out--actually a roll of paper towels would work better.
      1. this last time I tried to reply whilst not signed in to Google. I selected the Google Account Option. 2. I got the gmail login page. 3. I got redirected to the -confirm your blogger identity page--so I backed out once again. At this point it always says unknown Google Account. Then I back out completely and type and reply anonymously. Windmill is in Sicily.

      Delete
    9. Betty Marge in MN, twice my comment has been wiped out. I'll try again. A few months back I could not sign in using my Google account and I was asked to verify my account because they had detected unusal/illegal activity on my account. I was flummoxed. I was on the point of going back to commenting anonymously. But then I checked my options. Signing up without a phone. I gave them someone else's mobile phone number, received the code, typed it in, and was asked again! to supply a phone number where they would be sure to reach me if ever they needed to do so. I gave them the same number as before. And as you cannot see, at the moment, I can use my account again.
      Betty Anonymous

      Delete
    10. Betty Marge in MN--I tried again. I attempted to join the Google plus blogger page and it now does not like the name I have been using for years. I really cannot be bothered giving Google and the rest of the world my personal information. I will continue forever to be Betty Marge in MN. Thank you and good day.

      Delete
    11. They would not let me publish a "detailed" comment.
      S When I did not like my former email provider (gmx -
      P lots of spam) I changed to a different provider. Free of
      I charge, no fuss, no bother. Just the way I like it. Ha!
      E I wonder if any of the other Bettys comment anonymously
      S because they cannot be bothered to supply personal information.

      Delete
  14. I'm glad she never had any of her earlier heroines as widows in the later books, that would have been too depressing. That's what bothered me about all the older men/younger women scenarios. If women outlive men by 10 years, and they marry someone who is 15 years older, they are looking at some long, lonely years later in life.

    B v S

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My PRT is 10 years older than I am. I had several people bring up the long widowhood to me when we became engaged. I find myself thinking about it as we age. But who know what the future will bring? He's a good man, and I'm glad I found him.

      Betty AnoninTX

      Delete
    2. You'll just have to take extra good care of him so he'll live to be a ripe old age. :)

      B von S

      Delete