Monday, November 19, 2012

When Two Paths Meet--Reprise

Good morning, Bettys!
Here at Casa Van Voorhees we're still rubbing the rosy dawn out of our eyes which, translated, means that I drove my oldest pledge of affection to school in my muumuu-esqe cotton night dress and it's raining cats and dogs. Po-TAY-to. Puh-TAH-to.
As I sit down to reminisce on When Two Paths Meet, my over-riding feeling is still the incredulity I felt when I realized that Katherine was going to be yanked out of her job because her BROTHER's wife "needed" home nursing.  Um...that is a Betty bridge too far.  
But speaking of two paths meeting, I have a date with destiny this week with my ultrasound technician.  I am hoping for news of a girl-child but, as a friend of mine reminded me yesterday at church, "Assume they'll all be boys and that every mission call will be to Provo, Utah."  Which is Mormon shorthand for "Hope for the best and expect the worst."  
The good news is that I haven't thrown up in a week and I am halfway done on Thursday.  Huzzah!
Best wishes to all the Bettys this week and, to our American Bettys, may your Thanksgiving celebrations be full of gratitude and the kind of family you wouldn't mind introducing a Rich Dutch Doctor to...
Love and Lardy cakes,
Betty Keira   


I thought I remembered this book quite well. I did have most of the plot down pat - but I didn't remember loving this one. Why didn't I love it? The question bothered me until about 2/3 of the way through...then I knew. It's a 600 pound gorilla.

In the pre-dawn chill a knock sounds at the door...Katherine Marsh hops out of bed and tiptoes downstairs so as not to wake the household. A good-looking stranger urgently requests entry, as he has just found a newborn baby beside the road. Man with baby? Check. Dawning Realization? Check. Dr. Fitzroy asks that Katherine accompany him to the hospital so that she can hold the baby...Katherine is happy to help out (although sister-in-law Joyce is NOT), even happier that instead of being forgotten at the hospital as she expected, Dr. Fitzroy has arranged for her to have breakfast in the canteen. When he takes her home she shakes his hand goodbye and 'looked up into his face learning it by heart...memory was all she would have.'

Katherine lives with older brother Henry and his wife Joyce. They are a delightful couple. Psych! Not really. Henry is a schoolmaster...which hardly bodes well for the youngsters in his care. I find myself wondering what kind of school he teaches at...and can only imagine some horrible Dickensian boarding school and Henry a close runner-up to Wackford Squeers. Alas, the only thing we really know about Henry is that he is pompous, selfish, self-absorbed, doesn't care for his own children...which is where the redoubtable Mr. Squeers has him beat. Mr. Squeers at least likes his kids. Joyce is very busy with her own social life to have any time for her kids either. If ever there was a couple who shouldn't have had kids, it's these two.
Dr. Fitzroy shows up with a job offer! Poor Joyce and Henry aren't given any choice in the matter...no two weeks notice to find a new slave. Katherine is going to be trading her job of taking care of two ill-behaved children for a job taking care of a peppery old man and his wife. The new jobs pays 40 pounds a week, which is more money than Katherine has had in her pocket in maybe forever. One of the perks of the job is that Dr. Fitzroy drops by a couple of times a week to check up on Mr. Graingers dickey heart. A job that actually pays AND the chance to see her true love twice a week? You betcha. Henry turns puce when he finds out that she's taking the job...'You ungrateful sister! I've given you a home and food and clothes...' 'And look what you've gotten in return - unpaid housework, a nanny and you haven't even given me an allowance.' Good for her. I really like Katherine when she's in this mode...not so much when she wastes sympathy on Henry and Joyce (but no sympathy on the children...who deserve it more).
The Graingers are nice to work for - there's just one fly in the ointment. Granddaughter Dodie. The 600 pound gorilla. Dodie spends the book being rude, caustic, thoughtless, selfish, etc. She is, in a way, refreshingly forthright - she's not two-faced at all. The reason I don't care for her plot line is the inexplicableness of La Neels having Dr. Fitzroy spend soooo much time with The Dread Dodie. He also suggests to Katherine that The Dread Dodie could give her fashion advice. Umm. No thanks. Dr. Fitzroy is startled to see a look of such rage that he blinks. No way girlfriend is going to take fashion advice from the enemy...because that's just what The Dread Dodie is - the enemy. Both girls know it instinctively.
Dodie conspires with a relative to shift the Graingers to Cheltenham for a spell. Even though Mr. and Mrs. Grainger like Katherine a lot, they sashay off to Dodieland with nary a backward glance. This means that Katherine is out of a job. Dr. Fitzroy steps into the breach and gets her another job...nurses aide at the hospital. Yay! Bedbathing old men and emptying bedpans. She does make more money...enough to rent a room from Mrs. Potts. Her independence is growing by leaps and bounds...and now that she's working at the hospital, there's a chance every day to see Dr. Fitzroy. The best thing about the job change (besides seeing Dr. Fitzroy more often), is that Katherine finally gets to make friends with girls her own age - Miranda 'call me Andy', another nurses aide, and a girl at Mrs. Potts.

Dr. Fitzroy's younger cousin, Edward comes for a visit. He would be an ideal brother, says Katherine - over and over and over again. Seriously...Katherine loses no opportunity to let the good doctor know that she has no romantic feeling for the guy. Especially after Edward asks her out and Dr. Fitzroy goes strangely avuncular. Lots of fun to be had with Edward and Jason (yes, Jason). Hot cocoa around the fire after the midnight Christmas service, invitation to a New Year's Eve party at Jason's, teaching Katherine how to play poker and a day out walking through the snow at Stourhead, where once again Katherine tells Jason how sisterly she feels toward Edward. Maybe that's what tips the scales for Jason, but at any rate, he takes advantage of Edward's brief absence to propose. Yup. Right out of the blue. Since everyone has told Katherine that he's supposed to be marrying Dodie, she turns him down. And then kicks herself for it. The Dread Dodie would be an awful wife for Jason. Too bad Katherine blew her one and only chance. Did I say one and only chance? Jason is delightfully persistent - he brings up the subject of proposing with great regularity. If only he would stop going out with Dodie - which he does with great regularity. Oh, and if he would preface his proposal with an 'I love you', that would also help out a great deal.
Henry tracks down Katherine and persuades the Matron that Katherine is needed back at Casa Marsh to care for his ailing wife. Let's all join with Henry in shedding a few crocodile tears. Of course Joyce isn't sick, and Katherine is sure of it - especially when Henry smirks at her behind Matron's back...so she leaves a message with Andy for 'anyone who asks' about her whereabouts. Who's going to ask? Jason sees her entering a car and tracks down Andy to see what's what. What's up is that Joyce has gone out for drinks at the pub and left Katherine with her offspring. Jason shows up after dinner and Katherine falls weeping on his lapels.
Her: Jason, oh Jason! Take me away!
Him: Sorry I couldn't come sooner, I had outpatient's.
He makes amends by taking her back to his place for a much needed dinner. Some cards are laid on the table...hers. He knows she loves him, and gets her to admit it...before proposing again. Her walls are crumbling, she's just about to tell him 'yes' the next day when she hears that The Dread Dodie is engaged to someone else!! Instead of being thrilled, she's now sure that it's a rebound proposal. Katherine refuses one last time...muddied waters are cleaned up...I've loved you since I first saw you in that old dressing gown. I've loved you since you told them to give me a good breakfast. Kiss kiss. The End.

Rating: There's loads to love about this book...unfortunately, there's a 600 pound gorilla named Dodie in the room. Dodie is remarkably straightforward in her hatred of Katherine - and I don't have a problem with that, it's the fact that Jason keeps going out with her and sort of throwing her in Katherine's face. Drives me crazy. Queen of Puddings...unfortunately garnished with a tin of Dodie soup.
Fashion: a wardrobe bought one item at a time each payday. Week 1 - undies. Week 2 - suitable grey dress. Week 3 - a raincoat bought at Woolworth's. Week 4 - A warm and pretty dressing gown and cozy slippers. Week 5 - Winter coat in an unassuming peat brown cloth. New Year's Eve party dress - grey taffeta with a square neck and elbow length sleeve that make her look like a nun at the circus.
Food: Hospital canteen Breakfast O' Love of cornflakes, eggs and bacon, toast, butter and marmalade. Minute steaks, trifle, cheese souffle, egg custard, prawn cocktails, steak and kidney pudding, apple tart AND apple pie, boiled beef and dumplings, boiled ham and parsley sauce (?).

17 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm going to add this one to my list of contenders for favorite Christmas scene. There's something about the idea that that iconic cathedral is ever-present in the background of this story that makes Katherine and Jason's romance seem especially happy and inevitable. And so very British! Did you know the cathedral owns "the best-preserved original Magna Carta", and visitors can view it?

    Add Stourhead and you have got bucolic Blighty at her best.

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  2. Yes, I def remember this story. And I also have a love/hate relationship with it.

    I skip all the Gorilla bits so it's not as depressing the third, fourth, fifth time around.

    I love reading about the city, the cathedral, etc., and have scoured the neigborhood IRL online using maps and satellite etc.

    Never found the street that Jason lives on, :/

    But love reading about the snow and the walks to and fro.

    The satellite view does not look as romantic as it is in my imagination when I read our venerable Neel's version of what life is like in Mayberry! ;)

    Betty Francesca

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    1. Mayberry! You had me there. For a moment I thought I had missed something and there was a place called Mayberry in the book. But then I remembered - Andy of Mayberry. Ha!

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  3. They were through Brockenhurst on the way to Beaulieu and Bucklers Hard before he remarked, 'You'll doubtless find the cottage well-stocked with food. There's central heating, and fires, and someone will have been in to keep it tidy and ...

    The Cottage at Buckler's Hard

    He had turned into the broad roadway leading to the quay and Beaulieu river. There were cottages on either side of it, and a hotel at the very end. He stopped at the last cottage on the opposite side and said, 'Stay there a moment while I open up,' and got out out of the car to cross the narrow strip of grass and unlock the door.

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  4. Did you know Google streetview allows you to walk around inside Salisbury Cathedral? (Takes a while to load.) Beautiful!

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  5. I thought I had commented on Dodie-the-Manipulator. Dodie is very perceptive. She realises that small, ordinary, unspectacular Katherine is a serious rival and does everything in her power to try and remove Katherine from Dr. Fitzroy's sphere. Ha! Doesn't work that way, Dodie. She is definitely the rudest rival in all of Neels. I mean, lines like You'll have to mortgage your wages for weeks and buy something presentable — or not come. - in front of the hero and Edward, no less. Priceless, Betty! Dodie is very straight-forward in her dealings with Katherine. Which does not mean that she is above lying to our hero (about seeing her grandparents every day when she did no such thing). What I don't quite understand is why Jason spends so much time with Dodie. Ok, she wants to hook him and arranges as for as many dates with him as possible. And he knows Katherine cares for him and sometimes wants to make her jealous. And he does not always make time for Dodie. Still, one wonders why so many of the Neels heroes go on so many dates with women who are beautiful but not exactly nice people. Why do they do that?

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  6. Boiled Ham in Parsley Sauce = Reason I Only Ate in a British Mess Hall Once = Reason The Lines Are Longer at the American and French Mess Halls. NATO finally shut down most (not all) of the British mess halls on joint bases, the Brits usually eat with the Americans and whinge about having to bring their own Marmite.

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  7. ... Edward will be leaving in a few days; if the weather's good I think I might drive him over to Stourhead, it should be looking splendid in the snow.' ...

    ... They went out of Shaftesbury on the Gillingham road, and found that it had been more or less cleared, but when they turned off for Stourhead the country lane was packed with snow and the doctor slowed down, going past the row of cottages at the start of the small village, then down the hill towards the entrance to the park, to turn into the yard of the Spread Eagle Inn. He stopped and turned to look at Edward and Katherine. ...



    Snowie Stourhead, Karen Weeks, flickr.com

    Stourhead in the snow, Elaine Hodgson, flickr.com

    To start the slide show click on the triangle/arrow at the top (between Newer and Older).

    Stourhead – Pronunciation, as transcribed from my favourite dictionary, English Pronouncing Dictionary

    STORE – hed or STOUR – hed
    store rhymes more
    stour rhymes our

    Stourton – Pronunciation

    STUR – tuhn (rhymes Burton) or STORE – tuhn

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    1. Wrong link for the English Pronouncing Dictionary where you can see various pronunciations for Stour, Stourhead, Stourton.
      Silly me, I had checked the link three times, at least, and then I copied and pasted the wrong link?!!

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  8. Found several nice recipes for boiled ham with parsley sauce. Nigel Slater's classic boiled gammon and parsley sauce, Nigel Slater, The Observer on www.guardian.co.uk.
    Nice twist on the ham, but note the sauce screams blandness – not a grain of salt in it, no pepper??? That cannot be right. I am sure he just forgot to write them down. The ham was obviously not carved by a master hand (read: surgeon).

    Watched How to Make Steak and Kidney Pudding on about.com. If it weren’t for the kidney ...

    discreet ladylike: bleach!!!

    re: the rating: Queen of Puddings...unfortunately garnished with a tin of Dodie soup.
    Hey, Betty von Susie! Why didn't you tell us? Dodie soup right around your corner!

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    1. I don't think Dodie could ever replace Veronica as the "ultimate vixen name" do you? When I was little, my grandmother would make a little extra dough whenever she would make a pie, she'd let me lay my hand on it and she'd trace around it, sprinkle a little sugar on it, and bake it for me (the dough not my hand), she called it a dodie. So you see I have too many warm fuzzy memories to take the name seriously in a bad way.

      There was also that cute little girl on My Three Sons named Dodie, real name Dawn Lyn, sister to 70's dreamboat/90's shipwreck Leif Garrett.

      B v S

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    2. Aw, baking a little "dodie" for you, that is so cute.

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  9. Hadn't read this one in years, but remembered most of it -- that's because I loved this one! Lashings of Whipped Cream for me.

    Loved the whole bit with Heinous brother Henry and sister-in-law Jugular Joyce -- especially when Katherine tells it like it is and he "punishes" her by not speaking to her for days. And the part where Heinous Henry goes to the Matron to get Katherine sprung from the hospital so Jugular Joyce can go out boozing or whatever. (Most of the time when someone gets a Neels heroine sprung from normal hospital duties, it's the hero who's behind it, but this time, it's the villain.) But best of all were Jason's repeated proposals ("Is this a good time for a proposal?") -- loved those parts!!


    The only Dodie I remember was actress Dody Goodman (after I Googled, it turns out she spelled it with a "y", not an "ie"), but I had forgotten about little Dodie from My Three Sons.

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  10. DODIE SMITH

    Born Dorothy Gladys Smith
    3 May 1896
    Whitefield, Lancashire,
    England
    Died 24 November 1990 (aged 94)
    Uttlesford, Essex, England
    Pen name C. L. Anthony
    Charles Henry Percy
    Occupation Novelist, playwright
    Nationality British
    Genres Children's literature
    Notable work(s) The Hundred and One Dalmatians, I Capture the Castle, The Starlight Barking
    Spouse(s) Alec Macbeth Beesley (1939–1987)

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  11. She got into bed, planning what she would buy; clothes which would make Dr Fitzroy look at her twice. She was just dropping off on her hopeful thought when Mr Grainger rang. He couldn't sleep, he complained, and would she get him a drink? Ovaltine or Bengers...
    Betty Anonymous

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