Monday, November 18, 2013

The Doctor's Girl--Reprise

I think this cover is just as cute as can be.
Good day, Bettys!
 "Oh," you're thinking.  "This is the one with THAT surname."  The one that I can't help but say in my head 'Fuhforde'.  So, I looked it up:
Last name: Fforde
This ancient name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is one of the earliest topographical surnames still in existence. The name derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "ford", ford, a shallow place in a river of water where men and animals could wade across. The term was used as a topographic name for someone who lived near a ford. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. In some cases the modern surname may be locational in origin, deriving from one of the many places named with the Old English "Ford", such as those in Herefordshire, Northumberland, Shropshire, Somerset, and Sussex. The modern surname can be found as Ford, Forde, Foord, Foard, Forth etc.. On March 2nd 1589 Izabell Forde and Henry Embertonn were married in St. Giles Cripplegate, London, Sir Ambrose Forde was knighted at Leixlip, County Kildare, by Sir George Cary, the Lord Deputy, on August 2nd 1604. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Bruman de la Forda, which was dated 1066, in the Book of Winton, Hampshire (included in the Domesday Book of 1086), during the reign of King William 1st, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

It made me wonder what sort of topographical surname I would have if I were in need of one.  Possibilities include Mintfield, Riverside, Greenspace, Butte, and Powerlines...depending upon which home at which time.  What would yours be?

And here's a link to the discussion thread.
Love and lardy cakes!
Betty Keira

The Doctor's Girl was one of the very last Betty Neels stories to be published.  The Venerable Neels was in her 90's at the time! As far as I could tell, there were absolutely no references to Holland, no Dutch doctors, the heroine was not a nurse...what kind of Neels is that?  A sweet little gem, that's what kind. I wouldn't recommend it as an introduction to the works of Betty Neels - but as a little postscript, it's just fine.

Miss Mimi is peeved to learn that, no, Dr. Fforde will not
 write her out a prescription for three gin and tonics.
Loveday West (24) has a soul sucking job. There's just no way to sugar coat the pill that is Miss Mimi Cattell.  Rich, spoiled and nasty would easily make it into a list of top ten descriptors of that she-devil. Shrewish also. Upon waking up with a stuffy nose, the wealthy harpy demands that her doctor make a house call.  Her regular doctor must be used to such antics, but since he's off playing golf for the week, she'll have to make do with his partner.  Dr. Andrew Fforde is a tall drink of medicinal water...but he's not her cup of tea. He doesn't coddle her. Not even the teeniest bit.  Loveday considers him 'a man after my own heart'.
After a day  spent lounging in bed swilling gin and tonics, Mimi disregards Dr. Fforde's advice and goes out on the town with her friends. Her drunken homecoming in the wee small hours is typical - Loveday is required to haul Mimi's inebriated person up the stairs and into bed. A few days later Loveday breaks a vase and Mimi wallops her a good one - giving her:
  1. A doozy of a shiner.
  2. Her marching orders.
  3. No references.
  4. All of the above.
The black eye proved to be a
hindrance to finding gainful
Loveday is not only out of work, she's also homeless. Thank goodness for Mrs. Branch (the cook?) who happens to have a sister with rooms to let, and abandoned cats ready to be adopted. Jobs are not forthcoming for a girl with few skills who looks like she's been knocked around. Loveday finally goes to the hospital to have her eye checked. Dr. Fforde happens to catch a glimpse of her - and dismissing patient confidentiality as a thing of nought, finds out Loveday's address and work status .
When Miss Priss (Dr. Fforde's secretary) has a family emergency, Dr. Fforde has to resort to a temp agency's offering, which in this case is a giggler with no common sense.  We can't have that! Dr. Fforde now has a perfect excuse to visit Loveday.  He can not only offer her a job, but also a tiny flat. Loveday is refreshingly un-uppity about him showing up and gladly accepts the job and the new home.

Loveday daydreams about the man of her dreams. Interestingly enough he bears a striking resemblance to Dr. Fforde.

Meeting new people! The lovely (and nice) Mrs. Seward drops by the office to see Andrew (Dr. Fforde) 'Margaret - this is delightful,' says he, and with that, Loveday imagines a romance between the two.

Brighton! Where engaged men can date other women
without that pesky danger of being found out!
Romance of another kind finds Loveday.  Dr. Fforde's younger cousin Charles stops by the office.  He's quick to chat up the mousy little receptionist.  A couple of dates later (at places that Charles is sure not to see any of his crowd - including a trip to Brighton!) and Loveday starts glowing with happiness. Dr. Fforde observes this happiness with a niggling sense of unease.  Why is she happy?  Long story short? His caddish cousin Charles is engaged to be married in a couple of weeks time, he's is having one last fling.

Loveday is somewhat crushed when she hears about the upcoming nuptials - but she wouldn't be if only she knew that Dr. Fforde is head over heels in love with her - but he can't see what she would see in him.  He honestly believes he's too old for her, she believes he's at least dating Mrs. Seward...

Now that the make-believe romance with Charles has ended, Andrew starts to make some tentative moves of his own.
  • Invitation to his place. Meet Mrs. Duckett the housekeeper and a little lame dog which they name Bob.
  • Another invite to his place...this time Andrew pumps Loveday for information about her family. It is discovered that she has a long lost great-aunt living in Buckland-in-the-Moor whom she doesn't remember ever meeting.
To sweep or not to sweep?
The information about the long lost aunt is soon very helpful. Miss Priss (the long lost receptionist) is coming back to work and needs the little flat.  As soon as is humanly possible, Andrew drives down to Buckland-in...etc. and meets the aunt.  He explains everything - including the fact that he loves Loveday and would like to sweep her off her feet - should she be so inclined to be swept. Great-Aunt tells him that she was under the impression that Loveday was a modern career girl and since she's not, Loveday is welcome to stay.

Andrew gives Loveday a week's notice at work and suggests that she go and stay with her aunt. That's all well and good...but then the thought of not seeing him shakes her down to her toenails. Yup, she's in love.

Andrew insists on driving her down to Great-Aunt Letitia's - and spending the night in the village so as to be able to have more time with Loveday. He's not sure why Loveday has been stiff with him - then he mentions his family - including his sister Margaret. So, that was why she'd pokered up. Two obstacles out of the way...first Charles and now Margaret - the only obstacle left is that pesky age difference.
Call me Andrew.
I've always called you Andrew inside my head. 

A week alone with Great-Aunt (and her cats) and then a lovely ending.
She ran to the door and flung it wide as he reached it and went into his arms...
All that's left is some kissing and a promise to marry him just as soon as he wants - 'today if we could.'
Aunt Leticia...reflected that she would give them the silver pot which had belonged to her great-great-grandmother for a wedding present.
The end.

Is it me, or does the cover
art for An Ordinary Girl
look suspiciously similar?
Rating: Perhaps there should be a different rating system for novellas.  The same plot devices that drag on and on in longer books are given a much shorter shrift (is that a word?) - which can be quite a good thing. The Doctor's Girl isn't a perfect book by any means, but it has a fun hero and I adore the very end  - abrupt though it may be. For me it earned a Queen of Puddings (but that is partly due to the relief I felt at being able to read the entire book in the car between running errands all morning). I'm not saying that it's fabulous (for instance why did Loveday let the horrible Mimi get away with assault?), but it's a nice little slice of Neels - the perfect length for reading during Saturday morning errands.
Food: She eggs a lot of eggs and egg based dishes (such as omelettes), rice pudding, milk pudding, beans, Charles takes her out and plies her with cream cakes. 'Mrs. Duckett's teas were like no other: there were muffins in a silver dish, tiny sandwiches, fairy cakes, and a cake thick with fruit and nuts.'
Fashion: We have pretty thin pickings here. A middle-age appropriate navy blue wool crepe, and 'a plain sheath of a dress, and well cut, although the material from which it was made was cheap - but the colour was right: a pale bronze which gave her hair colour and flattered her eyes'.


  1. Soundview, Powerline (we could have the same last name again!), Rockysoil (don't get me started), Puget (see "Soundview"), Utilityeasement (seems long...), Pilchuck (as in the mountain), Hill, or, I could stick with my actual last name which is already semi-topographical since I live in the western portion of my country (and my state).

  2. Betty Barbara here--

    I sooo enjoy this story; it always leaves me feeling happy.

    As for surnames, my husband (Mijnheer van der Tarheelin) is having quite a fun time chasing all the spelling variations of his surname through the British records. The spelling so often seemed to depend on what the parish clerk "heard" and how he decided to "transcribe" the name. But it doesn't seem to have been topographical in origin--no matter how it was spelled.
    Now I guess we could be Riverside or Creek--but the closest would be Hill or Field or Subdivision.

    1. Topographical, hm, difficult. There was a pond, a forest or wood and a (wee wee wee little) hill near the house where I did most of my growing up. Then there were fields. Other than that - Middleton. By which I mean au centre ville, he he. Other than that not so centre ville, but somewhere about various townships or cities.
      Betty Anonymous

  3. Shrift — short shrift

    Examples of short shrift in the Canon.

    short shrift Oxford Dictionary

    shrift and short shrift Merriam Webster
    Betty Anonymous

  4. Buckland in the Moor
    According to the 2001 census it had a population of 94.

    To this day the buses run on Wednesdays only.
    Betty Anonymous

  5. I enjoyed this gentle, sweet story. Loveday's Great-aunt was really nice (makes a great change from the other stories where we read about the heroines' awful relatives).

  6. I was watching Last Chance Harvey, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson.

    London, England
    Dustin Hoffman (Harvey) had just left his daughter's wedding right after the ceremony (she had preferred to be given away by her stepfather, by the way) to return to America in order to attend an important meeting (a meeting his boss did not really want him to attend in the first place). His taxi got stuck in heavy traffic, he missed his plane (no, wait, his plane did not leave for another 40 minutes, but he was too late to check in, they would not let him), he called his boss on the phone only to be told he was fired.

    He enters a bar at the airport (we see Emma Thompson reading a novel at one of the tables). He orders a whisky. Downs his first Johnnie Walker Black Label and spills some of his second on his clothes and swears. And then he apologises using the words (at least, translated from the dubbed version, he does)

    I'm a vulgar American.

    So funny. Since we've had it about this topic, TGB's unfavourable view of Americans, from time to time I thought I'd share this with you.