Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Question of the Week

La Neels is never so vulgar as to mention naked-ish-ness. She flits around allusions to 'barely there' bodices, an occasional rip in the seat of the pants, talks endlessly of nice legs and catalogues crate loads of bikinis but there is a degree of silliness about nightwear.
Our heroines are never the shortie pajama or t-shirt and undies kind of sleeper. They are more likely to be shrouded in winceyette up to their chins with a dressing gown to boot. Nevertheless, we are offered passages like this found in The Magic of Living:

...Arabella, suddenly uncertain and hopelessly behind the times when it came to the correct behaviour towards handsome men she might encounter in her dressing gown, retreated before him...

My question is, what do you make of these passages?

Here's my answer: While thinking that they call to mind an era at least 50 years dead and buried from when The Great Betty wrote them I actually love them. They match the retro feel of the books themselves (wherein modesty, privacy and blushing are casually engaged in) and are a welcome escape from the I-Facebooked-a-status-update-with-pictures-of-my-colonoscopy world. Two thumbs up from this Betty for keeping some things under wraps. In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of those TMI types (to my Mother-in-law's unending horror, I am sure) but like the idea that there are those on this earth who are not.


  1. Those passages always make me wish my "dressing gown" was actually more gown-like and less fleece bathrobe-ish. However, I'm pretty sure a fleece bathrobe is more cuddly to wear on a cold morning than anything gown-like.

  2. I think this is another area where the "pretty" heroines -- like Harriet aka "Haughty Harry" in Tempestuous April -- have peignoir sets that have lacy bits or ruffly bits and are very girly, while the Aramintas have the Winceyette nighties and flannelette dressing gowns and NONE of them is shopping for undies at La Perla!

    But I secretly think that once the book ends and the couple is decently married (or finally in love to go along with the marriage of convenience), there's a shopping trip to the undies section of Harrod's in the heroine's future. Because we all know the NEXT dress she wears to the Burgermeister's ball will need a strapless bra.

  3. Betty Barbara here--
    I think Betty Magdalen nailed it. I vaguely recall one of the books with a gorgeous heroine wherein heroine is packing for a trip, her mom is there, and mom says something about being envious daughter can get away with just "pretty wisps" as undies! Oh My, Betty!!
    Re: dif between robe and dressing gown--robe = terry or chenille (i.e. thick and comfy and no frills). Dressing gown=fancier material (quilted satin, maybe) and ruffles or embroidery or other trim. But not see-through.

  4. I love it when we get a peek at some RDD dressing gowns--magnificent and regal...these fellows really splash out once night falls.

  5. There is a certain amount of pre-wedding shopping for undies . . .

  6. Pre-wedding shopping for undies... Fine. But what was The Great Betty trying to tell us when she wrote about Mary Jane in Winter of Change
    She bought a red dressing gown for Mrs Body too, and more glamorous undies for Lily, who was going steady with the postman and was making vague plans for a wedding in the distant future.