Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Reading with Betty Suse

Well, hello there.

My name is …… well it depends who you are and when in my life you met me!  I have answered to: Susan,
Sue, Susie, SueSue and Betty Suse, with a few cheeky variations during my early adulthood. My current
preference is Suse, but as my father always said “You can call me anything you like, as long as you don’t call
me late for my dinner.”
The Betties were desperately seeking Susan.
I began reading Mills and Boon – I’m British, can you tell? – when I “borrowed” my mum’s when I was about
14. I progressed to visiting the local library and borrowing 10 Mills and Boon books at a time, mainly in
secret, I didn’t want my friends to find out that I actually read anything, never mind the fact that they were

I can’t remember my first Betty Neels, in fact I don’t think it actually registered due to the volume of books I
got through. I just knew that anytime I picked up a Betty Book I knew it was her about 2 pages in.

They just seemed from another era – and believe me, I started reading them in the late 80s, and that is now
considered to be another era, according to the kids I teach! They harked back to “better days”, days with
characters who weren’t stripping their clothes off and getting married because “they had to”. I personally
have nothing against those books, but falling into a Neels book felt like a cushioning from the real world- if
romance books can be considered the real world.
Betty Keira, too, liked to relax.
Yes, the heroines are, in the majority, almost pure innocents, and the heroes are just too good to be true. The
fact that on more than one occasion the heroine called her true love by his surname or title until the very last
page amused me. I must have a healthy dose of cynicism because the books are, and to be honest I suspect
always were, too good to be true. Today they write about billionaires, industrial and financial tycoons and
princes of fictional lands, at least Betty rooted her heroes firmly in real life, albeit a privileged, hard working
real life that she had some knowledge of.

I know that Mills and Boon brought out their anthology of Betty Neels before I turned 30, and monthly I
would buy the two that were published- this took quite some time.

During this time I can remember visiting Amsterdam, and whilst not knowing where exactly I got my
references from, I would spot places, signs and buildings and just know them- the Begijnhof was a particular
case where I was on Spui and spotted the sign. I almost ran down the passageway, knowing there was a
hidden treasure to find. It was just as peaceful as Betty described.

My favourite book is Esmeralda. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love the fact she doesn’t recognise
his feelings; he does anything, including trying to reignite the feelings of the man she was absorbed in, to
make her happy. But I also enjoy the marriage of convenience stories, including The Little Dragon and The
Secret Pool (boo hiss from many!)
Betty Keira appreciates any Little Dragon boosterism.
My favourite books in the suggested genres are:
The children's/picture books I recommend are:  Friend or Foe by Michael Morpurgo or any Harry Potter.
Michael Morpurgo’s Friend or Foe is a little known book about two evacuated boys being rescued by a German airman whose plane had crashed, and how they helped him and began to realise that people who fight wars are still human. It questions the idea of who is your enemy?.
As for HP – I prefer The Order of the Phoenix, mainly due to the fact that I read it in 36 hours as I knew that on the Monday morning at least one of the children in my class would tell me which character died at the end. I was right- a child ran in screaming “It was Serious Black, it was Serious Black”. When asked if they’d enjoyed the book the response was “No, I got my brother to look at the back of his and find out who died so I could tell you”!
Just as an extra I love “When I grow up” by Tim Minchin. Basically the lyrics of the song from “Matilda”- but they are very perceptive and make children think about the realities of growing up.
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My favourite classic is Pride and Prejudice.
I was 12 years old when I fell in love with the David Rintoul/ Elizabeth Garvie BBC production. It was on at 6pm every Sunday. Unfortunately, the final episode was on the “Sunday School Sermons” day, when I had to go to chapel at 6pm. SO……. I missed the last instalment. I was beside myself and my mum promised to buy me the book. She took a bus to the local town the next day, after work and purchased a Penguin paperback copy, which, as a 12 year old, I read in 3 days. Only then was I happy! I have loved it ever since.
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The future is so much cooler without scheduled television.
I have since watched the tv version I missed and loved it, I still have it on video, but no video player! I was very upset when they made the Colin Firth/ Jennifer Ehle version, but it grew on me (to say the least).
My favourite mystery is, basically, any Agatha Christie
I love Murder on the Orient Express.
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The Sci-fi/Fantasy books that have stuck with me are The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
Hitch Hikers was the book of my teenage years, funny, weird and always put me to sleep when I was unable to – but amusing and hilarious! I was once on a cruise round the Norwegian fjords and when asked why I had come, by a fellow passenger as we took photos of Geiranger fjord I replied “To see if Slartibartfast really did leave his signature in the fjords”. The poor guy looked confused, but the bloke a few metres away started to laugh and leaned forward to wink at me over the rail.
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Good Omens, well, what can I say? A demon and an angel try to stop Armageddon. I love it. Buy it for god-children, friends, colleagues and have even been known to stop and walk back to people sitting on benches reading it to have discussions about it’s awesomeness! Plus, Amazon/BBC have just made it into a series with David Tennant as the demon and Michael Sheen as the angel. Bring on the summer.
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I enjoy biographies and autobiographies of musicians, royalty and historical figures. But, to be honest, it’s not my favourite genre.
When reading non-fiction I like travel books and anything by Bill Bryson- Neither Here Nor There and The Lost Continent are still my favourites, early and fresher.
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The book I would take if I was stranded on a deserted island apart from the books above are:

Winnie the Pooh- it’s not just for children.

Most of my reading is done in bed, my Betty books are now on my ipad and I love to feel relaxed when reading. I can of course cope with sun loungers by the pool on holiday and a reclining armchair!

The books in my to-be-read pile include a biography of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and American Gods by
Neil Gaiman.

I find Neil Gaiman to be so wonderful and wanted to link to this wonderful story 
about Impostor Syndrome he shared on his blog.
I don’t listen to audible books any more as they stopped putting CD players in cars and I’m awful at
downloading stuff. Plus, my commute is ten minutes and I like the time to listen to music. I enjoyed thrillers
when I did listen, because they kept me alert.

My memories of being read to include a 1971 reel to reel tape recording of my dad and I reading an alphabet
book, where I can be heard reading “U is for underwella”.  It’s amusing to listen to 47 years later.

Pride and Prejudice ignited my adult reading, as you can see above. However, I enjoy a lot of comedy/
compilations of newspaper columns by a variety of writers- nothing too serious mainly a cynical/ amusing
take on the news/ issues of the day.

But, Betty is my go to stress reliever. I’ve read them all, quite a few times. Just to immerse yourself in
BettyWorld is to put the day right. Happy Reading fellow Betties.
Betty Keira does not withhold her winks when the occasion warrants it.


  1. Dear Betty Suse, thank you for introducing yourself and giving us an insight into your reading habits, past and present.

    "U is for underwella" ❤️ – That is so cute, Betty Suse! Thank you for sharing this with us.

    I had a similar traumatic experience when I was a kid, tv-wise. There was a French series about a girl, well, young woman, who stowed away on a ship. She was found out of course, and dressed as a boy because the guys thought the captain wouldn't allow a girl to stay on board. Later, after the captain found out, there were strong romantic vibes between the captain and the girl.
    I missed the last episode because I had had my adenoids out (for the second time) and had to go for a check-up...
    Unlike you, I never found out what happened, because there was no book.

  2. Ha! I knew I had heard of Slartibartfast before - here on TUJD: Two Weeks to Remember-Discussion Thread!

  3. Hi ladies. I came upon a huge number of vintage HR’s (Harlequin Romance Books) and while Betty Neels is the reigning Countess of romance, and Essie is a pioneer in the NZ varieties, have you read Mary Burchill? I have fallen in love with her witty independent heroines and her character development for the supporting cast. She is also noted for her efforts during WWII. Unfortunately she was not as prolific but I still haven’t read them all yet.
    Just wondering what you think of her.
    A fan,