Monday, October 11, 2010

Caroline's Waterloo--Discussion Thread

I'd just like to say that I love Caroline's Waterloo. Whenever I'm asked about this blog (you know, the thing that sucks every minute of my waking hours) and then asked who Betty is and what these books are about, at some time, if the questioner is further interested, I will be asked what book they should start with. Caroline's Waterloo. You just can't go wrong with Caroline's Waterloo. I bought my copy several years ago at Goodwill. I was pushing my cart along when I saw it in another person's cart! And it looked awesome! All I just had to do was wait until a certain someone's back was turned and instruct my daughter to reach...Totally kidding! The Great Betty would never approve. No, happily, someone had unloaded their entire collection of Neels that day and there was a duplicate. Pwew.

At the outset of the book, Caroline and three other nurses are on a camping/bicycle trip!! (Betty Debbie says she always feels smug and superior to 'those people' when she's on vacation, riding in a comfortable vehicle, while they have to wear ridiculous clothes and struggle up hills. Not to mention traffic...) I think it's October too, so, while the weather might have been lovely during the daytime, it was bound to be very nippy once the sun went down.

Caroline throws up on his shoes...all he has to do is ring a bell for a clean pair of shoes, and a MAID cleans up the sick. This is kind of a neat trick. When I was pregnant with my second darling tax rebate, I had a gnarly case of the pukies (8 to 10 times a day at the crest of the tidal wave of hurl). Mijnheer van Voorhees, not yet the fully evolved Superman he is today, noticed that I was throwing up one day in the shower and though it was all his fault (HE did this to me!), no offer to help clean up was forthcoming. Eight years later and I'm still flogging that dead horse. If only we had had a maid...

Noakes opines that Dutch is a nasty, awkward language. I do not have anything to add at this point, merely to point out that all the maids, housekeepers and butlers are just as cute as a button.

Huis Thoe has a library which I (and Betty Debbie) have always wanted. We compensate fairly well with long walls of books but it isn't the same--the kids will insist on messing mine up. Anyway, this got me thinking about the Kindle (which Betty Magdalen was kind enough to post about extensively) and it made me wonder about those walls of books and how satisfying they are (until you have to move them) and how I like to (excuse me for using an Essie Summers-ism) 'dip' into them a little at a time and how much people can tell about me just from standing in front of one of my bookshelves for a minute. Hm...Discuss.

The sort of happy couple go choosing wedding rings on her lunch hour. Caroline picks out a perfectly plain gold band of which I heartily approve as they are so versatile when changing the nappies of the tennis four she will present her husband with in due course.

Radinck is famously emotionally stunted. He is taciturn and closed-mouthed but finally she wrings this compliment from his unwilling lips: 'your figure is not displeasing'. In the normal course of things, you couldn't possible construe this as a flattering remark but it is to The Venerable Neels' credit that the simple words from him are loaded down with meaning: His unfamiliarity with making pretty speeches, his need to do so anyway, his recognition that she needs something from him, the uncomfortable realization that he's noticing her when he didn't intend's all in there.

It takes all of two hours to be shown the house (by Juffrouw Kropp - the housekeeper). Betty Debbie says her house would only take 5 minutes, maybe 10 but perhaps it would take longer if she had her daughter-in-law inspecting the contents of every pantry shelf and examining each scrap of linen. You could totally stretch that out to 45 minutes...maybe even an hour!

Caroline thinks to herself, 'He wouldn't want to know that she had sometimes been rather hungry; hospital meals cost money and although one could eat adequately enough if one were careful, there was never anything left over for chocolate eclairs and steak and sole bonne femme.'
We almost named this site 'Sole Bonne Femme' (so glad we didn't as we would have been obliged to eat it and I'm not at all sure I would want to (mushrooms, no.)--whereas today I wore an Uncrushable Jersey Dress and thought of Betty.)
How adorable is she? She doesn't hit him over the head with her raptures of delight at her new life but, if/when he cares to take the time, she will have a lot to tell him.

At the burgermeester's reception, Becky gives her husband a 'wifely nip' on the arm so that he knows to go sit with Caroline. Maybe Betty Debbie is better at that 'wifely nip' stuff. I think her Doktor's arm has a calcified spot where her elbow meets it... ;0)

And last, Happy Birthday Betty Debbie! I have the hardest time not calling my own sister Betty Debbie because of TUJD.


  1. I hardly ever give Dr. van der Stevejinck a 'wifely nip' any more...(not since I broke my wrist last year).

  2. Oh, but think how witty the wordplay is with "Sole Bonne Femme" -- the Only Good Woman. *sigh* That just screams Dawning Realization for an RDD!

    When I was married to Brit Hub 1.1, we had plans to build a house elsewhere on the property Brit Hub 2.0 and I now live in. Okay, so this needs a bit more explanation. The house is over 200 years old and sits on 24 acres. (Definitely takes more than 5 minutes to do the tour -- not that it's a big house, but because there are lots of lovely details to look at and then stories about the details.) It was a weekend place for Brit Hub 1.1 and me, so when we divorced, he kept the house in Philadelphia (part of a former convent . . . more stories about the details there), and Brit Hub 2.0 and I kept this place.

    But BH 1.1 and I had always talked about how the style of house we really loved was a Queen Anne Victorian with the wrap-around porches and the like. So we planned to build one further along on the 24 acres, and keep this place as a guest house for when we retired.

    Back to the point: one of the details we were going to build into this huge white house was a two-story library, complete with a ladder and second-floor balcony, with a secret door out to the landing -- you know, one of those bookcases that swivels out.


    Unfortunately, although I can mentally walk through that house -- and that's a tour that would take a while! -- it will most likely never get built. Because as lovely as it is to live here, it's not a property one can maintain in one's dotage.

  3. Betty Barbara here--
    Oh, the ever continuing desire for a room for all my books! Right now, they are scattered in bookcases in every room of the house except the bathroom!
    And a close examination of said bookcases will reveal me to have very wide-ranging reading tastes (the complete Louis L'Amour shares space with the complete Georgette Heyer, for example, in one of my fiction bookcases.)
    And, of course, I have a bookcase with my comfort reads- I 'dip' into those quite frequently!
    Another plain gold wedding band person here (suitably engraved inside, of course).

  4. So here's my question - what is all this business with going over the "linen"? I have 2 sets of sheets for each bed in the house and that's it - not too much to count? What's so special about their linen? Are they also talking about towels? Again, I have 2 sets for each bathroom - one to use and one to launder - what can that add up to? Also, what's so special about Target (on sale) or Bed, Bath & Beyond (with coupon) towels that anyone would want to "inspect" them? Are their linens so expensive that you would actually like to look at them? Again- another world.

  5. Bettyellen,
    Every time I read about 'counting the linens' I ask myself the same question. Perhaps their linens were hand-woven and embroidered by blind monks high in the Tibetan mountains, then transported by camel across the desert wastes, then hand-carried across the continent by special'd certainly want to keep tabs on sheets like those.

  6. I am also including things like antique tablecloths and embroidered napkins in the 'linens' category. I think the woman of the house would want to know every tool in her arsenal when throwing a party.

  7. Betty Barbara here--
    Like Betty Keira, I also assumed that the linen cupboard included not only the bed linens, but the table linens. You know, that damask table cloth and matching 2 dozen napkins that have been in the family for umpty-ump years.

    As for bed linens-here's a neat site:

    You will notice that nothing so crass as prices are mentioned! The sticker shock would fell mere mortals like us, but for RDDs who drive around in Bentleys--no problem!

  8. I've never had occasion to count my table linen. While I do have several tablecloths, my 'fancy' napkins are made of paper. They differ from our 'casual' napkins...which are torn directly from the roll (paper towels).

  9. Ah, napkins on a roll, we use those in this house too! I have more table linens than I use. There are a couple of sets that only make it out for the ladies Christmas event. Then there is Aunt Laurel's magic table cloth that never stains. Made from some natural fiber, my son brought it back from Mexico and it graces one of our Thanksgiving tables.

  10. Re: "counting the linens" -- I never quite understood this practice in BN books. But I remember reading a comment that was made by one of the heroines in one of the books about counting the linen while she was in the hospital linen cupboard. From that point on, I kind of assumed that it was some sort of carry-over from BN's nursing days that made its way into the residential aspect of life. (Or perhaps the English really did count linens when they married and moved into an existing household. Who knows?)

    -Betty Sue

    1. Re:"counting the linens"
      Common practice - not just in England. Every housekeeper and housewife, especially in the "greater" homes, was expected to keep count of all items in the linen cupboard. To make sure nothing "disappears" if you know what I mean. From time to time they would go through the cupboard to inspect the linen to see if anything needed mending, was past mending and so forth. And of course if you married you would be expected to acquaint yourself with your new household. Linen cupboard in BN

    2. Ah, OK, thanks, good to know.