Monday, July 15, 2013

Never the Time and the Place--Reprise

Good morning, Dear Bettys
The title of this one obviously references the Robert Browning snippet, "Never the time and the place and the loved one all together..."  We here at Casa Van Voorhees are in just such a state.  Pledge 1 left for a week of Boy Scout camp this morning at 4am and Pledge 2 is on a great West States adventure with Tante Betty Debbie.  Meanwhile, we have appropriated three teenagers (2 from Betty Brother Brian and 1 from Betty Sherri) for the week and so we're having a lot of fun and a LOT of ice cream.
When I looked over my discussion thread for this original post I wrote:
Another nurse says Mr. van Tacx has 'such a lovely dark brown voice'.  Betty Debbie was telling me that our grandmother had such a 'metallic' voice the other day.  After much thought (okay, no thought at all), I figure Mijnheer van Voorhees has the voice of not-quite-ripe pears.  Lovely.
So my question is, what does the voice of your loved one remind you of?
Love and lardy cakes!
Betty Keira

I was several pages into Never the Time and the Place before I remembered the plot...or rather, some of the plot. Imagine a light bulb( here, I'll help - ☼◄that's my lightbulb).  This is one of the few books in the Canon that features a full-on white(cream)satin wedding!  From the beginning to the end, this love story moves along at a cracking pace. Put on your running shoes, and let's get started:

Week One (sometime in October):
Josephine Dowling (hereafter to be referred to as 'Jo' in the interests of brevity and not getting carpal tunnel) is 25, tall, gorgeous and built.  Not only that her relationship status is engaged. While taking Cuthbert(the dog) for walkies, she contemplates her cold feet.  Sure, it's a cold, windy, sodden sort of day, but that's not her problem.  She's just not sure she wants to get married at all.  Her thoughts, plus the wind and rain nicely mask the sound of a great socking Bentley that nearly runs her and Cuthbert down. Her cold feet are nothing compared to the glacial blue eyes and frosty manner of the handsomely rugged (or is that ruggedly handsome...see cover art) man.  Words are spoken and they both go their separate ways, her to her parents home, he to Branton house...just a few miles away.  He loses little time in ferreting out the name of his One True Love.  Oh yeah, it's love at first fight.

In the kind of coincidence seldom found outside the pages Neels, Jo just so happens to be the Ward Sister in charge of the 'gyny' cases at St. Michael's, and Tall Dark and Handsome will soon be spending a month as locum for Dr. Bull - the regular surgeon of women's 'parts' at St. Michael's.  Up until recently TD and H has been engaged also - but as this plays very little part in the proceedings, we'll ignore it right up until the ex-fiancee rears her figuratively ugly head. His name? Julius van Tacx.  Relationship status: It's Complicated.

The part of Tony the Fiancee will be played by Malcolm. Being engaged to Malcolm isn't entirely a piece of cake...there are...shall we say, some problems. 
  • First and foremost is the fact that Malcolm's mum and Jo do. not. get. along.
  • Malcolm can't wait to move back to his hometown and share a medical practice with his dad.
  • His hometown is pretty far away from her hometown.
  • He tells her his mother can teach her to sew her own clothes, instead of frittering away money on cute, stylish, well-fitting, new clothes, fripperies.
  • His mother's taste in clothing was as remote from fashion as the moon was from cheese.
  • Malcolm drives a Ford Granada and considers The Golden Egg good enough for a dinner date.
  • He calls her 'Old Girl'.
What it really boils down to is the fact that she doesn't love him.  So she breaks their engagement  He's not exactly brokenhearted. ..which sort of makes it worse for her.  Mr. van Tacx is the first person she runs into. Hullo, had a tiff?
Jo is not in the mood to be consoled. It's off to a very hot bath to cry her eyes out in peace. She may not have been in love with the tick, but she's had an emotional wrench just the same.

Mr. van Tacx stops by Jo's office to beg a pot of tea where Jo increases her hold on his heart by coming up with cheese sandwiches.
Please don't call me 'sir' outside the hospital.
I doubt if we'll run into each other.
There is a divinity that shapes our ends...rough hew them how we may. (I ♥ Betty)
He's quoting Shakespeare?  Call mama and engrave the invitations.
Well, not quite yet.  First Julius takes Jo out for a bite and some advice to the lovelorn. Editor's Note: The first time I read this book, I didn't get why Jo would be upset over the broken engagement.  She dumped him - move on!  Upon re-reading I have much more sympathy for her.  Yes, she dumped him, but it wasn't because she was shallow or flighty.  Her reasons were sound, but that doesn't mean it didn't hurt - and to have Malcolm dismiss her so lightly afterwards would have been like pouring salt in the wound. 
Julius offers a shoulder to weep on, some advice, and a hearty pub dinner. Nice. He trots out his broken engagement as proof that he knows what it's like to be jilted (mind you, he doesn't seem broken hearted about it).
To sum up week one: Josephine and Malcolm break up. Josephine doesn't think she likes Mr. van Tacx. In spite of this, Julius starts making friendly advances .

Week Two:
Jo waits until the weekend to break the news of her new relationship status (single) to her parents.  They aren't very fussed about it - they never really liked Malcolm (or his mother).  Jo and Julius run into each other at Lady Forsythe's party...Julius drives Jo back up to London.  Julius is gone for 3 days...Jo misses him. Julius kisses a surprised Josephine. Dinner together - with a casual, no kiss, good night.
Malcolm sends a Malcolm-ish which he requests to split the proceeds from selling a clock that they purchased together - which sends Jo off to cry in the bathtub.
Julius is quick to notice the puffy eyes and red nose. 
Him: Buck up!
Her: You have no right to stick your nose in.
Him: I'm working on need a holiday - at least 10 days.
He wants to get rid of me, thinks Jo...and that hurts.

Week Three:
Jo takes a holiday at home. Her pride over the broken engagement had suffered more than her heart. We may now dismiss Malcolm entirely.

Week Four:
Jo's holiday, continued. Julius shows up for the weekend - right where they met the first time. After church Julius invites Jo to spend the afternoon with him at Stourhead - where he eyes the damp statues of the grotto with an unromantic eye. I find it hard to work up any romantic feelings over statues.  Well, that's a relief. Jo wonders where romance has gone...Oh, Julius has some romance all right, he hauls out his great big Cookbook O'Love and gives her a one needs time to fall in love - one may not realise it when it happens, but sooner or later one becomes aware. Yes, he's just given her the recipe for a Dawning Realization.
As the weekend winds down, Julius takes his leave of Mr. and Mrs. Dowling with a handshake and a front row view of him kissing Jo...unhurriedly. Mum knows which way the wind is blowing, even if Jo doesn't.

Week Five:
Back at hospital the other nurses tell Jo that Mr. van Tacx is going on a date with the small, sexy, gold digger, Moira.  Julius is much too smart for Moira.  He invited Sister Clark (in her fifties) and Mr. Dean, the elderly Senior Pharmacist ...there was no way Moira could compete. Julius tells her it was a case of safety in numbers -
 but he always feels safe with her.
Mr. Bull returns. Julius leaves.

Week Six:
Home for the weekend. It's nasty weather - biting wind, icy gale, is it the same weather in Holland? Julius would have no idea, he's sitting in her parent's cozy sitting room discussing anaesthesia with her dad. Did she spend any time thinking of him?Never. What, never? Hardly every. She does accept an invitation to go for a walk on the morrow.  Six miles through a nasty mixture of frozen mud and ruts, but that is mere piffle to a Neels gal.
Paging Dr. Dowling, paging Dr. Dowling! There's been an accident in your neck of the woods...A milk tanker, a furniture van and a small family car have tangled and need medical attention.
After church Julius asks Jo to go back to Stourhead - this time they tour the church. I should like to be married here.  To you, Josephine. Umm...think about it while I'm gone. Yeah, I'm going back to Holland. (at this point you can either channel Arnold  "I'll be back" or MacArthur  "I shall return)
Jo goes back at the hospital wondering about Julius.  This is a very unsettled week for Jo. Where is Julius? When will he be back?

Week Seven:
Julius is back!  He invites Jo to dinner at his new flat.  The flat that he purchased from a friend, because he knew that he and Jo would want their own place in London. His proposal is renewed, vital statistics given (he is possessed of one father, three married sisters and two unmarried brothers). He can arrange for her to leave the hospital at the end of the week, and they can be married in three weeks in the Stourton church.  It's to be a full on wedding, cream satin, two bridesmaids and all the family.

Weeks Eight and Nine:
Wedding preparations, shopping for wedding clothes. Missing Julius.

Week Ten:
Wedding at Stourton and honeymoon in York. Dawning Realization. On the way back to her parents house, Julius makes his first attempt to tell Jo how he feels.  He tries again on their way to London..unfortunately Jo is asleep.  He tries AGAIN at the London flat...but is interrupted by Mrs. Twigg, the housekeeper. They drive to the ferry...talking about lots of things, but not love.  I do get that - I'd want to look someone in the eye right then, not dodge traffic. A fairly passionate kiss in front of the family retainers - Jo giving as good as she got. Another interrupted attempt by Julius to have The Talk.

Week Eleven:
Holland. Magda the Ex-Fiancee. Jo invites Magda to stay for lunch and then Magda implies she and Julius will spend some time together...Julius is out very late. Jo chews him out like a fishwife. Julius quietly tells her she's as blind as a bat and they will have a TALK in the morning. He's not there in the morning, so she ends up going to the village school's Christmas party by herself.  In spite of not speaking the language, Jo manages to be the life of the party - to the extent of starting a conga line with all the students and the teachers.  Julius takes her home, puts up a do not disturb sign and finally has The Talk. At last - the time and the place, but only you can tell me if I have the loved one...some delightful snogging ensues. The End.

Rating: Julius was delightful...twinkling eyes before a kiss, twitch of a smile before a kiss, advice to the lovelorn, and he's a pretty fast mover.  From the time he met her in October(whilst she was engaged) until the final delightful snogging sometime near Christmas the pace never really lets up. He's persistent about wooing her, which I like. A lot. Josephine was pretty plucky too - from breaking off her engagement to Malcolm to getting engaged to Julius it was really only a matter of a few weeks.  Sure, her emotions swung about - but all things considered, she did a pretty good job of handling herself.  I adored the scene near the end when she had all the kids and teachers doing the conga. Cross-over characters Tane and Euphemia van Diederijk (from An Apple from Eve make an appearance - they now have two children). And now for the tough part. I have no idea what to rate this one.  It has lovely moments, delicious bits of prose and likeable characters...but for me it ends up being slightly forgettable. I think I'll go with a Boeuf en Croute (with maybe a side order of Queen of Puddings).

Fashion: Julius falls in love with her while she's wearing a wringing wet macintosh,  whoever thought up dinner jackets had him in mind, Jo bought knitting wool to make herself a chunky sweater in the Italian style, bridesmaid dresses of deep claret cotton velvet, were found at Laura Ashley, cream satin!!! wedding dress, silver grey taffeta party dress with a long skirt, scoop neckline and extravagantly puffed sleeves (which sounds so much like Princess Di's wedding dress.
Food: Apple crumble and cream, 'as nice a piece of 'am as I've seen for a long time and real cheese', tea that would drive a train, onion soup, homemade pate and toast, a morsel of trout, fresh caught from the river running through the hotel garden, Tournedos Rossini, homemade ice cream, chocolate orange creams, Vichyssoise, poulet chausseur, weak coffee and sandwiches that had been wrapped by a fiendish hand.


  1. Dr. van der Stevejinck has a voice that reminds me of warm chocolate chip cookies. To which he would never say no to.

  2. Favorite Girl, who seems to have recovered her appetite nicely with a course of painkillers that she hates to get but will now have to put up with 2x/day forever and ever, has a voice like a runaway truck's brakes being frantically applied. Unless she's doing her quiet-inquiry voice, which sounds like a hiccupping baby. My long-lost love, a Belfast-born teenager with amazing cheekbones, had a voice like warm taffy in maple syrup -- dark and delicious, but impossible to understand. My delightful goddaughter has a voice like a spring-fed creek running over rocks, burble bubble.

    Thanks for asking.

    1. Glad to hear your Favorite Girl isn't off her feed anymore! Betty A. has been playing veterinary nurse for several weeks - her mother's dog needed surgery on one of her toes and since then Betty A. had to change the bandages, clean the wound, and remove stitches which kept popping up after a couple of days, one after the other, that the vet had overlooked when he removed the others. (Ok, just two stitches in total. But it was distressing nevertheless. The second one in particular was tricky because it was a teency tiny knot and you couldn't see a thing because her hair had grown back a millimeter or two.)
      And since her mom has broken her arm a few weeks earlier she could not change the bandages herself. But she helped.

      And since her mom has broken her arm a few weeks earlier Betty A. has done a lot of fetching and carrying. (Does that make me a part-time companion? No, wait. My mom does all of her correspondence herself. So I guess not. Rats.)

  3. One branch of our family has a very distinctive laugh, short, sharp, staccato. When they all start up at one of their frequent family get togethers it sounds like you're on the testing range at a machine gun factory.

    B von S

  4. Betty Henry's voice is quite ordinary until he has a cold, when he sounds like Jeremy Irons. (*swoon*)

    Betty Ross's voice is ordinary in sickness and in health.

  5. I don't seem to have enough time to read or spend with my laptop of late. But this weekend I'll have the weekend off. Sigh. There were so many things I meant to write...

    Here is a Magda, in case you were wondering how to pronounce the name.

    Mijn naam is Magda Berndsen. Ik ben degene die bijna 60 is dit jaar.
    (My name is Magda Berndsen. I am the one who is almost 60 this year.)
    Mijn naam is Magda Berndsen. Ik ben 62 jaar. Daar ben ik trots om.
    (My name is Magda Berndsen. I am 62 years old. I am proud of it.)
    Betty Anonymous

  6. What an unpleasant spectacle...

    Yesterday, at the supermarket, I was reminded of the scooped out neckline. Not in a pleasant way, mind you. There was a lady (misnomer) in a shirt with a roll-down/drop-down (way down) neckline and, um, nothing on underneath. Not advisable... She was slightly bosky, didn't have enough money and would have returned the bottle of beer she was going to buy (wouldn't have been enough), wanted to give back the goods from the bakery shop (was denied), but refused to part with the one litre carton of wine (carton, mind) or the small bottle of rum. She asked the lady in line behind her for the money. Was told no, she would have to leave the wine behind. No. Again she refused to do that. And again. The line was building up and I think it was the elderly lady further down in line (who was actually not much older than the woman herself) telling her in a no nonsense voice that she was holding everyone up and that she would have to make a decision that finally induced her to pull the carton of wine back out of her bag, muttering all the while that it was all her boyfriend's fault.
    What an unpleasant spectacle. And not just the scooped out neckline either...

    1. Bosky? Does that mean busty? I thought it had something to do with bushes. She sounds like a classy gal. Is there an european website that is the equivalent of our "People of Wal-Mart"? You could have posted her photo!

      B von S

    2. Not that bosky (by the by, Frisian bosk = forest). Apparently, I've been reading too many Regency novels where bosky means drunk

      I did not have my camera with me and I am afraid in this country there are laws against publishing people's pictures without their consent, unless they are not the subject of the photo and just happen to be standing around where you are taking a picture.

    3. Which is perhaps a little boring, but there you are. It was not a pretty sight. I would not have subjected my camera to preserving that image for any - however minimal - length of time.

    4. Meanwhile, I have visited the "People of Walmart"...

      Oh. My. Word.

      Thank you for a zillion (outraged?) laughs. Unbelievable! Next time I am at the supermarket I will pay a little more attention to detail. I don't believe I have ever seen people dressed like that going shopping. Make that: I don't believe I have ever seen people dressed like that. Period.
      I do remember the time a group of young people went shopping at one of the local supermarkets. It was a warm summer evening, they all looked as if they had just come from the beach or the public pool. The men were not wearing shirts and one of the store managers who happened to be around calmly told them off, pointing out that their attire was inappropriate. Ha.

  7. 'Move over, I'll drive somewhere where we can have coffee or a drink.' She opened her mouth to refuse, realised that it would be useless anyway and found herself squashed into the other seat. The small part of her brain that wasn't numbed by surprise, noted that a Mini really wasn't a car for a man of his size. 'Do you mind where we go?' He didn't wait for her to answer. 'Is the tank full?' 'Yes.'
    'Good. We'll keep to this side of town shall we? Do you know Epping Forest? Buckhurst Hill—the Roebuck—we can get something there.'

  8. page 67

    As they left Salisbury behind them, he said casually, 'I've booked a table at Sheriff House in Stockbridge. I hope you like it, perhaps you already know it?'
    'I've not been there, Mother and Father have. They loved it.' Presently he stopped the car and they went into the small hotel and Josephine, who hadn't been feeling in the least hungry, sniffed the fragrant faint smells coming from the kitchen as they crossed the hall, suddenly found her mouth watering.
    They had a table by the window in the small dining room and she ate her way with wholesome appetite through homemade paté and toast, a morsel of trout, fresh caught from the river running through the hotel garden, followed by Tournedos Rossini and to round these off, an ice cream, home made, and as she explained to her companion, out of this world. They drank hock sparingly since they still had more than an hour of their drive ahead of them but they didn't hurry over their coffee, and Josephine, almost against her will, found herself happy and content; Mr van Tacx was a pleasant companion, telling her a little of Holland although nothing of himself, not mentioning the hospital at all, never verging on the personal.

  9. page 159

    'The shops look gorgeous. I love Christmas.'
    'They'll miss you at home this year.'
    She said soberly. 'Yes, though I hardly ever got home for Christmas because of being on duty you see. Do all your family meet at Christmas?'
    'No—at the New Year.That's a very important day for us, the house bulges with children on Old Year's Day and the grown-ups see the New Year in and eat something very like your doughnuts and drink champagne. You may find Christmas very quiet...' He spoke casually, but his eyes beneath their heavy lids were watching her face.
    'No, I shan't—you'll be there and we can have a tree, can't we? You do have Christmas trees?'
    'Oh, yes,' he assured her gravely, 'indeed we do. And there will be people dropping in for drinks and presents for everyone. Next year you will be there for St Nikolaas
    —more presents, though that's really for the children.'