Monday, January 28, 2013

Dearest Eulalia--Reprise




Good morning, charming Bettys!
I think that my favorite part of this book is the whole idea that an eminent medical professional could be so thoroughly (and irrevocably) poleaxed by a 'canteen' lady.  In my mind, I strip the hard reality of florescent lights and hair nets from the word 'canteen' and playfully insert those straight-from-Hollywood, leggy USO starlets who 'worked' at passing donuts to GI Joes during the late unpleasantness.  
There now, the image doesn't even have a speaking acquaintance with tinned green beans and soggy casseroles.
Happy reading!
Betty Keira


Her name might be Eulalia, but she really gets called 'Lally' - couple that with a last name of Langley...Lally Langley sounds like a woman of dubious reputation...but that's not our girl. The worst that can be said of Lally Langley is that she is a 'canteen lady' and she spends an inordinate amount of time deceiving her arthritic grandfather about their actual living conditions. Grandfather is quite crippled and confined to his room. The house is rather grand, but grandpa has very little money. He can't sell the house or furnishings...some kind of legal twaddle prevents him. So there they are living in a large, lovely home that they can't afford to heat. Grandpa doesn't know the extent of Lally's loving deceptions. He's stuck in his room while Lally and housekeeper Jane conspire to help him live in the style he is accustomed to, while they eat mince in the kitchen and bake their own bread to save money. What money they do have comes from Lally's job at the hospital canteen. Enough to pay for one helping of lamb cutlets, but not for three.
The story opens with Mr. Aderik van der Leurs spotting our girl walking across the hospital entry. He falls for her like a ton of bricks. Here he is, age 38 and heart whole...there she is, the girl of his dreams. The rest of the book is a lovely little playbook:

"How to Get the Love of Your Life to Love You in Thirteen Simple Steps"

Step One. Insinuate yourself into her life. Aderik is able to dredge up a connection between his own father and Colonel Langley. Just enough to get him in the door.
Step Two. Make yourself useful. Aderik is just as handy with a spanner as he is with a with a stethoscope. Nothing says 'I love you', like fixing a girl's washing machine.
Step Three. Declare your intentions to her nearest and dearest. Aderik confides in grandpa that he is in love with Eulalia and plans to marry her. The Colonel gives his blessing.
Step Four. Propose. Sure, she won't accept the first proposal, but it is the thin edge of the wedge. A proposal always gets a girl thinking about matrimony.
Step Five. Travel to Albania. This will introduce a feeling of concern on her part - Albania sounds vaguely menacing...also 'absence makes the heart grow fonder', right?
Step Six. Fast talk her into a Marriage of Convenience. The Colonel passed away while Aderik was in Albania, leaving poor Lally without a home of her own, and only her salary as canteen lady to live on. Convince her that "love can come later". Promise to make her happy.
Step Seven. Special License. Marry in haste, get her to fall in love at leisure. No Dutch relations to clutter up the happy event, just one cross-over character as best man ( Jules der Huizma from Discovering Daisy), Jane and Lally's cousins who have inherited Grandpa's house.
Step Eight. Buy her a cashmere Coat 'O Love. Aderik then leaves a large bundle of money for Lally to purchase an entirely new (and suitable for a consultants wife) wardrobe.
Step Nine. If you love her, let her make her own mistakes. An icky anaesthesiologist invites her to see his etchings...I mean, takes her to a museum and then makes improper advances. She shuts him right down and then tells Aderik about the skunk.
Step Ten. Present an engagement ring and a kiss. A slow kiss. Lally likes it...enough to kiss him back.
Step Eleven. Adopt a Kitten and/or give your wife a wedding gift of a pearl necklace. Any excuse for a kiss. Or two.
Step Twelve. Be in the Hospital when there's an explosion. This is always a sure-fire way of nudging a girl into a Dawning Realization and perhaps an actual declaration of love. As soon as Lally hears of the explosion, she's off to the hospital like a shot.
Step Thirteen. Kiss. Lather, rinse, repeat. Ignore firefighters, doctors, nurses and any other bystanders.

Rating: A lovely and quick read. I really only have one little quibble with it. I don't get why a recently married woman would go out, alone, with the anaesthesiologist. Besides that, it's an adorable book. Aderik is never mean - he always keeps his eye on the prize - the prize being Eulalia's love. Sure he's a little devious, but it's all for a good cause. Lally feels completely at ease with him and totally at home in Amsterdam. He knows she's on the right track, all he needs is patience. He initially tells her that they can marry first then get to know each other...love can come later, if she wishes it. He never pushes her, but he doesn't just leave it there...he takes steps. Once she is comfortable at one level, he gradually takes it up a notch. Nothing is ever forced. Eulalia is pretty fun too. She goes along with everything while remaining charmingly oblivious (she beams at him on a regular basis). She then starts to get a bit fractious...there's something she just can't quite put her finger on...an itch she can't scratch...what is it? Oh, yeah, it's love. Queen of Puddings!
Fashion: She was 'wrapped in a garment which he supposed was a dressing gown, cut apparently with a knife and fork out of a sack.' Wedding outfit consists of a grey wool coat with matching crêpe dress and a little velvet hat. Darling pink ballgown, Burberry and matching rain hat, new pink dressing gown.

Food: Toad-in-the-hole, breast of chicken for the Colonel, macaroni cheese for Jane and herself, Bath Oliver biscuits, shepherds pie, enough lobster dishes to make the poor crustaceans an endangered species, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, a trifle to put to shame any other trifle.

37 comments:

  1. Been rererereading some Neels and I have a doubt. Don't heroes ever eat dessert? Is it always cheese?

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    1. At dinner it's the cheese board, but at tea they seem to want to eat their own weight in cake.

      B von S

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    2. I think they also tend to eat the 'puddings' at home, but not at restaurants.

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    3. Well of course they only like the homemade stuff, nothin' says lovin' like somethin' from the oven, as the commercial used to say.


      B von S

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    4. It feels one-sided though...

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  2. THE COURIER-MAIL, BRISBANE, TUESDAY, MARCH 6, 1934

    NURSE DECORATED
    Bravery in Hospital
    Explosion

    LONDON. March 4.
    The gallantry of a Middlesex Hos-
    pital nurse. Sister Dorothy Thomas,
    has been rewarded by her receiving
    the medal of the civil division of the
    Order of the British Empire.
    While a large oxygen cylinder was
    being charged in an anaesthetic room
    an explosion occurred, flames shooting
    out of the room in an alarming man-
    ner. Sister Thomas, after removing
    the ether and shutting the doors to
    localise the fire, re-entered the an-
    aesthetic room, and at great risk
    turned off the top of the burning
    cylinder, which was liable to explode
    at any moment.
    Her bravery and coolness prevented
    a serious catastrophe.

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    1. Go to the British Pathe website and type in "Brave Nurse Honoured 1934", you can watch the King pin the medal on her pinny! I love old newsreels.

      B von S

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    2. You're brilliant! Thanks for finding this. Here is the link Brave Nurse Honoured 1934

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    3. There were a wide variety of caps to be seen! I wonder how many of those little boys acting up for the camera made it through WWII. What a toll the war took on the young men of Britain.

      B von S

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    4. Loved that! I wonder if the caps indicated whether the nurses were sisters, staff, students...

      Betty AnoninTX

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  3. I've yet to buy a Betty for my Kindle, but I might just have to, because in all my years of collecting the GBN I've yet to find this one in a used-book store. It sounds delightful.

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    1. There are multiple copies for sale on eBay right now if you are interested.

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  4. Betty Delia
    Oh my a Betty I haven't read. You Betties know how exciting the idea is.
    "eat their own weight in cake." - I loved that observation. Sweets should be eaten after four but before dinner. You never know when there's going to be an explosion, car accident, fire in the hospital or what have you. Those carbs are fuel.
    Do I have the meals down? Tea and biscuit to wake to, breakfast, coffee or elevenses, lunch, tea and then dinner. Betty was serving 6 meals a day well before it was thing to do.

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    1. Unless it's (tea) - breakfast - coffee - midday dinner - tea - supper. Oh, and then endless cups of tea...
      And we still haven't covered high tea...
      The number of combinations is nearly endless...
      If I were to have that many meals a day - each and every day "you could roll me to the station", as my mom used to say.

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    2. To me supper is what the upper class would eat around 9:00 P.M. , a late supper is what a rake would take his actress/singer mistress to between midnight and 02:00. In the US all the drunks are out eating pancakes at IHOP from 0200 to 0400. Not sure what you would call that,other than disgusting.

      B von S

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    3. To me supper is the meal eaten in the evening, which some (actually a lot of) people call dinner, especially if it is a warm meal. A late supper, to me, is a meal you eat after going to the cinema or the theatre, the opera...

      supper – definition Merriam-Webster
      supper – definition Cambridge
      supper in Betty Neels
      midday dinner in Betty Neels
      midday dinner + supper in Betty Neels

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    4. While I'm at it...
      elevenses
      high tea
      dinner
      Might as well add breakfast
      Tea and coffee are ubiquitous so I won't do those.

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    5. Lunch can be called dinner, and dinner can be called supper, but you can't call supper lunch (who's on first?). High tea is what farmers have around 6:00 P.M. after plowin' all day. Usually a hot meat dish is served. Afternoon tea what is ladies and Dutch doctors have around 4:00 P.M. I was told they were called high and low tea because high tea is served on the high (dining room) table and low (afternoon) tea on the lower coffee table while sitting on the couch/sofa/divan/settee/three piece suite which is an exact replica of the one at Sandringham house. Are they called coffee tables in England?

      B von S

      Now I'm hungry.....

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    6. Me too, for cookies,cake bread and a pot of tea which I shall drink dry.

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  5. He took the road to Apeldoorn and then by side roads to Zwolle and then north for another twenty miles to Blokzijl, a very small town surrounding a harbour on the inland lakes of the region. It was hardly a tourist centre but the restaurant by the lock was famous for its food. He parked the car and as Eulalia got out she exclaimed, 'Oh, how Dutch! Look at the ducks and that little bridge over the lock.' She beamed up at him. 'This is really Holland, isn't it?' 'Yes. In the summer there are yachts going to and fro and it can be crowded. Would you like to have lunch here?' 'Oh, yes, please...' They had a table in a window overlooking the lock in a room half full of people, and Eulalia, with one eye on the scene outside, discovered that she was hungry and ate prawns, grilled sole and Charlotte Russe with a splendid appetite, ...

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    1. LIVE WebCam Blokzijl at the harbour.
      Ten different camera positions. After 15 seconds you can choose a different camera position/positie

      I saw the ducks!!!

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  6. I love how you do this! Thank you!

    Betty AnoninTX

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  7. By the time they reached Woodstock, Eulalia was wishing the day would go on for ever. The Feathers was warm and welcoming, with a pleasant bar and a charming restaurant. Eulalia, invited to choose her lunch, gulped at the prices and then, urged by her companion, decided on lobster patties and then a traditional Sunday lunch – roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, vegetables… and after that a trifle to put to shame any other trifle. Eulalia finally sighed with repletion and poured the coffee.
    'What a heavenly meal,' she observed. 'I shall remember it for years.'
    'Good. The Cotswolds are at their best in the autumn, I think.'
    He drove to Shipton-under-Wychwood, on to Stow-on-the-Wold and then Bourton-on-the-Water where he obligingly stopped for a while so that she might enjoy its charm and the little river running through the village. At Burford he stopped at a hotel in its steep main street, a warm and cosy place where they sat in a pleasant room by the fire and ate toasted teacakes oozing butter and drank the finest Assam tea.

    Yesterday, Betty A. enjoyed a spot of tea in the afternoon. It came in a glass (because thats what she picked from the cupboard) with no milk (because that's how she likes it), but then it was China green tea Pi Lo Chun with sugar added with a lavish hand. And the glass was on the largish side (about 2 cups/500 mL). Delicious.

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  8. The tea came in glasses...
    I was looking for sound examples for Kaatje bij de sluis. It was quite easy too. Found sluis, bij and de on wikisomething pages. Kaatje on YouTube in a Dutch sitcom. The little round guy who looks – chin in hand – dreamily happy, had dreamed of Kaatje, Kaatje Kuit, the love of his life. He dreamed that she was waiting for him at their home. They had five little daughters with pretty curls. Kaatje was baking apple tart... Anyway, in the next scene (4:42) we see his son (his son in real life too) and daughter-in-law at the breakfast table. Take a good look at the table: a basket with slices of bread – no rolls, alas – knäckebröd/crisp bread, butter, jam, peanut butter, a box of hagelslag, a plate with slices of cheese and cold cuts, plates, forks and knives and tea glasses in little baskets – so you don’t burn your fingers. Hadn’t seen those in a long time. The last time must have been at a store. We had a daintier set when I was little and I remember drinking my rosehip tea for supper from it.

    Kaatje bij de sluis – Katy by the lock
    Kaatje 1:57 Kaatje, 1:59 Kaatje wie? 2:00 Kaatje Kuit, 2:02 Ho, ho! Kaatje Kuit.
    bij
    de
    sluis
    Suggestion: Open each link in a new tab (right mouse click).

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  9. re: the Kaatje link: Het Zonnetje in Huis (literally "the little sun in the house"), Pieter "Piet" Bovenkerk moved in with his son and daughter-in-law. I daresay he is the (grumpy) little sunshine.
    the father: The Dutch musical award, the John Kraaijkamp Musical Award, (since 2000) is named after John Kraaijkamp sr.

    the daughter-in-law: Martine Bijl is a Dutch singer, television presenter, actress, writer, cabaretière, translates musicals and tv comedies. For Stage Entertainment/ Joop van den Ende Theaterproducties she translated the following musicals: 42nd Street, Aida, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Wiz, Tarzan, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Mary Poppins, We Will Rock You, La Cage Aux Folles, Wicked and The Little Mermaid. (from: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martine_Bijl)

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  10. Betty Magdalen, just read a mail from my sister, a recommendation from Amazon. Made me think of you. Made me laugh out loud.

    Ann Lethbridge (majored in history and business), Haunted by the Earl's Touch
    No man has ever wanted her for herself
    When she arrives at Beresford Abbey, orphan Mary Wilder's hopes of finding a place to belong are dashed when she meets Bane Beresford, the enigmatic earl. He is as remote as the ghosts that supposedly haunt the Abbey…and, like its crumbling walls, her dreams fall apart.

    Occasionally she sees a different, more caring man behind the facade, so is she foolish to long for a happy home…and a family? His proposal is for a marriage of convenience, but his touch...

    leads to Brighton , most definitely to Brighton, I'm afraid

    ☑ orphaned heroine
    ☑ remote, enigmatic hero
    ☑ caring man
    ☑ proposal for a MOC

    – Bane, like the bane of whose existence?

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    1. Bane like Wolfsbane, a wolfy earl in sheep's clothing, no doubt...

      B von S

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    2. Did you know that Betty Ross's surname is Beresford? Too funny.

      Book four of the Blackjack Quartet is going to be a modern-day MOC when the heroine asks if she can live in the hero's house (they've known each other for a couple years: he was best man at her sister's wedding) just until she figures out what to do next. I'm afraid there will be Brighton-ish elements (sorry) but there will definitely be some nods to The Great Betty!

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    3. Yes, I knew Betty Ross's last name. That's what made me think of you.

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    4. I've ordered it, so we'll see about this MOC...

      (Nobody does the MOC like The Great Betty. Nobody, myself included.)

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    5. I will probably order it at the bookstore tomorrow. I still have some gift-certificates. But it may take two weeks... Unless the other wholesale dealer has it in stock...

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    6. Why is there a hyphen in gift certificate? There should be an empty space.

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    7. Betty Magdalen, yesterday, I finished the Beresford novel. Not bad. Not bad at all. Never a dull moment.
      Betty Anonymous

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    8. I have it here, but I'm in the middle of a death spiral of writing, revising, editing, composing, and promoting, so I haven't had a chance to read it.

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    9. Poor little you! Keeping your nose to the grindstone. I hope your very own Mr Beresford is a great support. And anyway, the novel will keep. Mine had been sitting around for quite a while, too.

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