Monday, July 29, 2013

Not Once But Twice--Reprise

Good Monday, Dear Bettys,
Today I realized that we haven't provided a venue (much though you've tried) to discuss the little Prince. (When I say it, it sounds like Bambi, but frankly, Wills is not quite Alpha-male enough to be Bambi's father who I can't help but anthropomorphize as something more approaching a just-shy-of-middle-age dangerous Sean Connery in a serious kilt.)  "But, Betty Keira!" you say, "That doesn't fit the theme of this book!"  To which I respond that Kate will have to do her royal duty...ahem, cough...not once, but twice. "Oh, Betty Keira.  That was terrible," you say, your voice laced with the pain of disappointment. "Not worthy of you at all..."  


(Inadequate silence full of remorse)
But nevertheless, we can't let The Daily Mail have all the fun picking apart every detail... 
Love and lardy cakes,
Betty Keira

My apologies to all those who love this book. I knew going in that it wasn't one of my favorites, so I tried to keep an open mind.  Didn't help. 

He said:
I could have been a great...I could have had it all. It was all within my reach, but I foolishly let it slip away. Now I'm just a lonely old man, with nothing but my money to keep me warm. My name is Adam. Adam ter Brandt (24-ish). This is my story.

It all started with George Henry Forbes. We first met at a seminar in Brussels. If I hadn't run into him again in London, none of this would have happened. We were sitting in his study talking shop (he's a doctor...I'm a doctor) when She walked in. George Henry's sister, Christina Forbes. She was oozing with sensibility and sereness...and the most gorgeous eyes...other than that, she was a plain looking little thing who was getting long in the tooth.  A plain little thing that looked like she'd never been chatted up in all her twenty-seven years. Not my usual type at all, but she had something. I wasn't sure what that something was, but she had it and I was going to find out what it was. 
My time in London was limited, so I came up with a great plan - have her apply for a job at the hospital in Holland where I studied.  I knew she'd get the job, after all, my older brother Duert(37) is the director. She jumped at the chance rather pathetically - like she was jumping at straws. I found out a little later that she was anxious to find a place away from London - George Henry was engaged to be married shortly to a woman who didn't care for Christina.

Duert came running (as I knew he would) when he heard that I wanted to send a little English nurse over to his precious hospital.  He is rather a stickler for things like 'proper medical care' and all that rubbish. For some reason, he didn't object to little Chrissy.  Granted, she's a good nurse - evidently a better diagnostician than many of the junior doctors at St. Athud's, but besides that and being able to speak 3 languages, she's not all that.

When I got back from England, Chrissy was already in Holland.  We went out a few times, had a few laughs, everything was going great...and then Duert started horning in on my territory. He succeeded in turning her affections to himself, then exiled me to...America. Thus I have been reduced to the status of an ex-pat...I run a private clinic in LA. Cosmetic surgery has been good to me - liposuction, face lifts and silicone.  That's what my life has boiled down to. Money galore, but no sweet Chrissy.

She said:
What a load of hogwash. Sure, I fell for him. I fell like a ton of bricks.  With a face that's as plain as a pikestaff added to my increasing age - I was ripe to fall for anyone who gave me the time of day.  Even though I fell for Adam, I still retained a tiny little kernel of common sense. I knew that not all was as it should be. He was fun to be with...most of the time. But he was also rude and manipulative: 'Chrissy, get your hair done!' 'Chrissy, you need new clothes!' 'Chrissy, try some make-up!' 'Chrissy, you look a fright!' Yes, deep down I knew these were not the words of true love.

Duert was always there for me...he had the patience of a saint - waiting for me to shake myself out of the stupor that was Adam, offering his shoulder to cry on, taking me out for meals after the inadequate (and foreign!!) food that was all Adam saw fit to give me. He once held me in his arms for an hour while I slept! Duert grew on me slowly - Adam was frequently distracting me, and Duert seemed to be encouraging my relationship with Adam at every turn. That's not to say all was smooth between Duert and I. Once he told me, "Adam favours pretty girls, and you aren't pretty.' Duert's still paying for that one.

Adam wouldn't have been so bad if he had limited himself to flirting with me. He also lied continually about having to go to work or lectures, when he was really out with other girls. Why did he feel he had to lie? It wouldn't have come as a shock to me to hear (from him) that he was dating other girls too.  It should be no surprise that he also lied about and belittled his older brother.

What really got me was how close he came to ruining my life. Adam and I had already broken up and I was seeing more of Duert...I'd even been given the House Tour O'Love. Adam found me standing outside of Duert's house a day or two later and proceeded to be absolutely Vile and Malicious. He insinuated that I was after the richer brother, then went on to say that Duert would marry me because he felt sorry for me and that neither one of us would ever be sure of the other person's motives. Of course I didn't take him at face value, but he had sown a seed of doubt.

Duert saw the two of us together and assumed the worst. His attitude towards me changed and I felt wretched, just wretched. I was sure he despised me, so I gave notice. I couldn't leave without a parting shot - I as good as told Duert that I loved him and that the only reason I was outside his house that day was that I wanted to see his home again and remember it...then I bolted.

He said:
Hey, Duert here. In my defense, I was in quite a pickle. On the one hand, Adam is my brother. I've been privy to more of his skirt-chasing than any brother should have to be.  Christina seemed to be in love with him, so what else could I do but help her along?  That's not to say I let Adam have it all his own way.  I knew that sooner or later he would dump Christina and if I played my cards right, I would be right there ready to step into the breach.

It did take Christina a little while to make the switch...and then that no-good-dirty-rotten-scoundrel brother of mine deliberately went out of his way to to be vile. He broke the code of RDD siblings. The code clearly states that RDD siblings have the right to be:
  • selfish.
  • self-centered.
  • navel-gazing.
  • inadvertently cruel.
No where does it say that siblings have the right to be intentionally malicious. I found him guilty and sentenced him to no family holidays or family reunions for 5 to 10 years, sentence to be served in the USA.

After Christina stopped by my office on her way and of town and dropped that bombshell, I was gobsmacked. I wanted to run after her and sweep her into my arms, but I got roped into some hospital matters for the next half hour or so. I made arrangements to be gone for a few days - calculating it might take me that long to track Christina down - but I figured without my loyal household help. They were able to put me on her track much closer to home. I found my Christina walking on the beach in the teeth of a gale. We quickly sorted out our misunderstandings and I proposed. The end.

Rating: Not one of my favorites. Not even close. I didn't mind Christina...except that she spent way too much time being fooled by Adam.  Way. Too. Much. Time. And way too little noticing how much cooler and classier Duert was. I did like her inner thoughts...she knew she was being foolish. She didn't chase Adam - she just passively let him walk all over her.  I didn't mind Duert...except he spent way too little time with Christina.  I also had a tough time buying his 'love at first sight'. I do object to Adam - in a big way. I object to the thought that he is genetically related to Duert. I object to the thought that Christina will be related by marriage to the little toe rag.  Beans on Toast.  For a better treatment of this type of storyline see: Uncertain Summer (at least the heel is only a cousin...)
Fashion: Christina spends every waking hour (when not on duty at the hospital) wearing grey. A grey flannel suit, a grey jersey two piece, a grey chiffon ball gown. For some reason she's decided that grey is her colour - no wonder she never gets chatted up.  You can tell Adam's true caddish-ness by the outfit he wears to go clubbing with Christina. A blue velvet suit with an (I kid you not) open necked ruffled shirt. Duert looks pretty splendid in white tie and tails...I assume.  Christina doesn't really notice him.
Food: Adam takes her out to cheap little Bohemian little places - including Greek food twice, first kebabs, second time - fish salad.  Duert takes her out to fancy places - The Ritz for tea - thin cucumber sandwiches, little iced cakes and tiny meringues, The Claridge for lunch - avocado, salmon (because she wasn't sure what you did with lobster) and profiteroles. In Holland Adam takes her out for nasi goreng (an Indonesian fried rice dish) then Duert takes her to Le Bistroquet for avocado vinaigrette, sole Veronique and a hot souffle.


  1. Hello there, Betty from Amersfoort! (Who are you? I wish I knew.)

    Last night and this morning I was re-reading Not Once But Twice.

    Oh, hello, Betty Barbara! I can see you circling the globe.

    And once again I was enchanted. What a lovely story. Hated Adam more than ever. Loved Duert more than ever. Although it struck me that he does make a few rather nasty remarks. Like the above-mentioned "and you're not pretty" quote.

    I almost bought a bag of frozen nasi goreng today, but it is still too hot over here and I didn't want to do any frying and fill the whole appartment with cooking smells...

    Le Bistroquet in Den Haag was supposed to re-open on Saturday after weeks of renovations. "The menu

    Yoohoo, Betty von Susie!

    as well as the interieur have undergone a facelift."

    No more avocado, but do not despair, there are still Betty Foods on the menu

    Gebakken met spinazie
    , huisgemaakte friet en remouladesaus

    Ossenhaas "Rossini"
    Gebakken met ganzenlever, crouton, uitjes en madeirajus

    They are still working on their website.

  2. They crossed the busy street and plunged into a succession of small streets and narrow lanes, coming out surprisingly quickly into Lange Voorhout where the doctor turned almost immediately into a small restaurant. Christina just had time to read the name— Le Bistroquet—as they went inside.

  3. I agree, I don't like the book, but I love the ending. I love the "he'll travel the ends of the earth to find her" endings. So impractical in real life, but fun to read.

    Speaking of such ending, may I recommend The Decoy Bride as a very Betty-ish movie? Never sets foot in Brighton (most of it was filmed on the Isle of Man, Betty Ross assures me) but does evoke the sort of northern Scottish landscape beloved of some early Betty novels. Cassandra By Chance could have been set on the fictional island of Hegg.

  4. You know I never liked the book myself and I have to say part of it is her miserable brother's name. George Henry. Not George. Not Henry. George Henry.

    Heh. "Should a put a Ring on it" is playing on the Muzak here at work at the moment. Shoulda put a ring on it, Adam.

    1. No, no, Adam is Mr Wrong. We do not want him. We do not want him to have put a ring on it.
      That's the thing with double names - hyphenated or not - the parents love them, to other people they often sound strange.

  5. I probably would have accepted the double barreled name if George Henry had been a nice person. He wasn't.

    Yeah Adam was wrong for Christina but still: you want her you should have married her.

    1. But that is just the point. He didn't really want her. He was just a little interested in her because she was so different from his usual "fare" and because she had gorgeous eyes. But he was not really, really interested. He was just amusing himself, leading her on for a bit, trying to charm her - and succeeding - lying to her frequently, finding fault with her looks all the time because she was not up to his usual standard. (When a man is wearing a blue velvet suit and a frilly shirt then there must be something wrong with him. The Great Betty knew that, that's why she made him wear it. He he.)

  6. They were in Scheveningen now, going down the Badhuisweg. 'I thought we'd eat a nasi goreng at the Bali.' He glanced at his watch. 'No time to talk much, I'm afraid, but we can meet again later.' They ate their meal a little hurriedly and Adam left her without ceremony at the end of it. 'You'll enjoy looking round the shops,' he told her airily, 'and there are trams to take you back when you feel like it. I'd drive you back, but I mustn't upset old Duert by being late for van Tripp's round.' Christina was left standing outside the restaurant, feeling at a loss, but making excuses for Adam.

    (The Bali went out of business a few years ago.)

  7. One of the things I noticed re-reading Not Once but Twice was that we get a lot of the hero's point of view, in great detail, fairly early on, when Duert takes Chrissy to the Ritz for tea and to Claridge's for lunch. I rather like that.

  8. Last Monday, before not buying nasi goreng, I spent about an hour lying in a chair designed for maximum comfort, pure "wellness", in fact. The room was air-conditioned. Did I mention it was too warm outside? Anyway, Betty A. experienced pure bliss until...
    Yes, there had to be a catch. Until my dentist entered the room. No, actually until a bit later. I was there for my semiannual check-up. One of my teeth had been a wee bit sensitive of late. So, after a short trip to the x-ray room – one and a half trips actually, an old lady was faster and got there before us – my dentist decided the ancient filling of the tooth next to it had to be replaced.
    With anaesthesia, of course? – Without. Without!
    And now for the fun part – What? No, Betty von Susie, I am not a masochist. – Where was I? The fun part. No, truly, I was tickled pink. It was so Bettyesque. The dentist and his assistant arranged all the instruments on the trolley, er, little shelf before me. And then they got started. I’ll spare you the details. At some point, the little very junior chair-side assistant was replaced by a more senior, very experienced colleague who was either new to the job or not his usual assistant because she anticipated the dentist’s needs and he said he had to get used to that. I thought that was funny. But the funniest part was that every once in a while they referred to one of the instruments by name, the Heinemann. Betty A. would have chortled if her mouth had not been filled with other people’s digits and metal paraphernalia.

  9. Today, finally, I bought nasi goreng for my midday dinner, the frozen variety. But I did fry it myself which is more than Adam and Christina did, he he. The dish, in this case, consisted of peas, onions, mung beans, carrots, cut into match sticks, savoy cabbage, a few stray leaves, leeks, rice, tender morsels of chicken, and a seasoning of their own invention. Only slightly spicy. Very tasty! I opted for a version without seafood.

  10. Finally caught up on all my Betty backlog....

    I was so disappointed in this one. I was looking forward to it, so wanted to read about Christina and Duert, since they appear in several other books. I thought TGB must have really liked Christina to keep reintroducing her.....although I should have seen this coming when she was too weakened by a normal pregnancy to deal with her son's traumatic brain injury, she sounded too fragile to be a Neels girl.

    What a doormat! Why did TGB keep bringing this doormat back? I wanted to grab Christina by the stacking swivel about halfway through......

    1. I ♥ Christina and Duert! I ♥ Not Once But Twice! It is one of my top favourites! And I guess TheGreatBetty felt likewise about them.

      I guess Christina is just another Tishy - Small Slice of Summer, another Reilof & Laura - The Hasty Marriage. You either ♥ them or hate them.

  11. Well, since not one else took the bait and chimed in on the Royal Baby, thought I'd share a bit of Army humor along the Royal Baby lines....

    1. Okay, I admit I totally do not get this, but I think it's at least a midge uhmmm... insulting? to women soldiers? Or am I misinterpreting? Army Betty, please do help.

    2. Well, I am glad I am not the only one who did not quite know what to make of this, at first. On second read, however, I think I did get it. I think it is not insulting to women soldiers in general. But it casts an unfavourable light on the "lady" in question. (No better than she should be, as Nanny would say.) And it proves TGB right about men going for the helpless type, too.

  12. One of those great lines The Great Betty excelled in. Love it.

    He looked a lot younger than George Henry; probably younger than herself. She paused in measuring out the coffee to take a quick look in the small mirror over the wall cupboard. She looked every day of her twenty-seven years, in no time at all she'd have wrinkles and grey hairs. There wasn't time to have a good look now, but she would when she went to bed—there was that wildly expensive cream one of the older Sisters had been talking about, guaranteed to hold back the advancing years...