Monday, October 16, 2017

Bachelors Galore--Notes

Clothes: I didn't take a copious list of the clothes in this book but I wish I had. Essie uses it to great effect. Marty allows Joy Logie to help her shop for several dances because Joy was an orphan and she wants to allow Joy to do a little vicarious shopping. This leads to one outfit that is a bit TOO sweet and young.

But she could dance in it...
But Marty wears it just to be kind and is subsequently sneered at by Louise. Genius. There is meaning both coming and going. After Marty trashes a purple gown because of his unkind words, Philip pays 25 guineas he can ill-afford for a lavender dress that Joy gives to Marty as though it comes from her.

Food: (29) They enjoy a banana split and an iced drink after Philip's pilgrimage to his father's grave, (55) Joy has passion-fruit jam in the larder that Marty isn't sure what to do with at first, (63) Philip assumes that Marty is short-cutting the meals because the housekeeping is so difficult. Instead of a picnic, he finds her serving steak-and-kidney pudding, baked potatoes, cauliflower in white sauce and apple pie.
Take THAT skeptical bachelor!
(70) After Marty nearly murders the cows, she serves the tired farmers (and interested vet) mutton, roasted carrots and potatoes, baked pumpkin and cream of celery soup, (134) THE Hervington-Blairs hold a dance at their station and serve breakfast at dawn. Bacon, eggs, coffee, tea, mounds of toast. (137) Joy fixes pineapple juice over iced water and ginger ale. (139) Joy and Marty cook beetroot and 18 pounds of steak to feed the shearers but thunderstorms have put them off. (142) After a day of travel, they feed the children cornflakes and make themselves a mixed grill of bacon, egg, sausage and tomato. (166) Marty makes bacon-and-egg pies to take to the crew working on the midnight harvest.

Locations: (23) Curacao is where she babysits all the ship's children on the shore and Philip tells her she sacrificed just so the parents could go on a bender, (23) The ship goes through the Panama Canal where we see "...burly, good-natured natives and United States Security Police (31) They finally see a long line of cloud on the grey horizon which signifies that they are nearly at New Zealand or Aotearoa, the-land-of-the-long-white-cloud.  (33) They make land-fall in Wellington Harbor. (122) Philip's home is near Rakaia. (141) They pass the town of Cheviot on their trip to the Logie's holiday house. "A little village with an English air." (147) Joy tells of how she ran away from Len before they were married and went to the Chatham Islands. "Very remote, primitive, though improved of late." Her prospective mother-in-law chartered a boat to get her back.

New Zealand: (39) Philip tells Marty there is not much tipping.

Your money is no good here, little English girl.
(40) a Maori woman explains how Maori names are pronounced. (I suspect that she was also included here to show that New Zealand accommodations weren't racially segregated unlike some places Essie could name...*cough*.) (42) a pa is a Maori village (45) a nor-wester hits them. Moisture-laden winds that drop their moisture in the Alps and race across the plains as hot, dry winds. But they make wonderful conditions for sheep "No foot-rot. Too dry." (49) A farm hand is off doing his 3-months of military service. (51) New Zealand was fighting hydatids. They'll win when all the farmers dose their dogs regularly and stop feeding them raw offal. (59) Fields are called paddocks here. (74) Families that came over on the Charlotte Jane are to New Zealand what Mayflower families are to the U.S. (84) Marty studies the road code booklet and we get lots of tips about things like how fast one should go through townships, (140) Philip has a whare (a small cabin) near the Logie's, (151) Philip sneaks Marty away from Louise's drunk friends to see glow worms, (158) New Zealand had a Marriage Guidance Council

Vicarage Life: Essie was married to a Presbyterian minister and when she speaks about ministers and manses, I often think she was speaking about her own life. Reverend Fergus MacNeill helps the emigrating passengers. (36) He races off the ship to meet his wife, Rachel, who tells him she's been using the manse glebe to raise pigs for sale. She rakes in a tidy profit. (36) When Marty says she's Anglican, not Presbyterian, Philip says Fergus would visit her if she was a Roman Catholic or a Communist. (58) When the power goes out, Marty thinks of her father (a minister) who said that a house is never really your own until you can walk comfortably around it in the dark. (77) Fergus gets 300 pounds a year on car allowance because of the large distances traveled in his work, (113) the padre is the MC of the local dance. "There's no end to what you get dragged into." (166) Fergus is one of the men working in the dead of night to get the harvest in before the storms.

Literature: (101) Louise reminds Marty of "Tiger, tiger, burning bright, in the forest of the night...", (112) Marty quotes, "Oh it is excellent To have a giant's strength, but it is tyrannous To use it as a giant!", (115) Noel West takes her to see the play The Young Elizabeth, (117) and then whistles Greensleeves, (119) Philip takes her to see Macbeth (121) and after wards she thinks of "old, unhappy, far-off things." (123) Philip tries to comfort her with a line from the play: "Give sorrow words...the grief that does not speak, whispers the o'er fraught heart and bid it break." (134) At THE Hervington-Blair's party, they end by singing the Doxology, (147) Joy quotes: "Little Orphan Annie's come to our house to stay, To wash the cups and saucers up and brush the crumbs away, (160) Philip whistles a tune that goes 'Every little breeze seems to whisper Louise, Birds in the trees keep in singing Louise, Each little sigh tells me that I...Adore you, Louise!"

Philip, Philip, Philip...
(167) During the midnight harvest, Marty hears the men singing: "This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall, Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands; This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, This England." (168) After delivering the tea to the men she quotes Shakespeare, "How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank."


  1. Wow! Broken up into bite-sized pieces for the ever hungry mind - it's amazing what Essie Summers packed between the covers of her book! Foreign places, foreign (at least to us) culture, literature, meals, animal husbandry...

    1. Except for the road safety rules, I was astonished how much information she managed to cram into all these pages and have it feel so seamless.