Monday, December 27, 2010

A Christmas Proposal - Discussion Thread

Bertha reads to old Mrs. Duke (before she dies) and the woman asks for her to read Love's Undying Purpose. I tried Googling the title - nada. It obviously wasn't a title Betty Neels would have chosen for one of her own books - it sounds like it might either have purpler prose than The Great Betty used or it was the British equivalent of Grace Livingston Hill - which would be even cleaner than La Neels.

Her father is never around but we find out that his job is as QC (Queen's Council, I think)--he's rather well known. This novel was published in 1996. Umm, my question is, why, oh why doesn't her father ever call home and talk to his daughter? He is completely absent. Not even any emails. He seems have been gone for at least several months, perhaps years. Obviously there hasn't been a ton of father/daughter bonding. At least not enough so that Bertha feels comfortable telling her dad that the only clothes she has to wear are her younger step-sister's hand-me-downs.

Bertha's acid-yellow dress makes Oliver 'full of rage'. Hahahahahahahahaha!!! Despised yellow dresses? Takes me back to my wedding...and the hordes of sisters in yellow dresses, some of whom have yet to forgive me for that. So yes, yellow dresses can be rage inducing.

Oliver does a little psychological warfare against Berta's sister Clare, asking her to read for the old woman knowing she will refuse and let Bertha do it. Clare's response: 'Yuk. How absolutely grim.' He's brilliant at reading Clare and Mrs. Soames - he knows just when to use the reverse psychology. I love using reverse psychology on kids. Unfortunately...well, I guess fortunately, my kids are pretty smart and have all outgrown my amateurish attempts at reverse psychology.

Bertha. Discuss. I'm thinking of those lines in Voyage of the Dawn Treader: "There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." Bertha. Gah. Bertha??? Really? Bertha has got to be near the very top (or bottom - if you turn it upside down)of my list of Worst Names Ever, right next to Beulah, Gertrude and Maxine... And now, for your educational enlightenment, I give you A Bertha From History (courtesy of wikipedia):
Bertha of Holland (c. 1055–1093) was the first wife and queen of Philip I of France, King of France.
She was the daughter of
Floris I, Count of Holland, by his wife Gertrude of Saxony, the daughter of Bernard II, Duke of Saxony. After her father died in 1061, her mother remarried to Robert I, Count of Flanders, called Le Frisian. In 1072 her stepfather concluded a peace treaty with King Philip. As part of the terms of the treaty Bertha was married to Philip.
Nine years passed before Bertha produced the desired son and heir, Louis. Reportedly, her fertility was only restored thanks to the prayers of a hermit, Arnoul, who also named the child. In 1092, Philip repudiated Bertha, alleging that she was too fat. He confined her to the fortress of
Montreuil-sur-Mer, and took up with Bertrade de Montfort, the countess of Anjou.


  1. I'd like to go on record as saying I LOVED my yellow dress with the elastic and flounced neckline. I was 4 or 5 and remember thinking that in my bobbed hair I looked JUST like Princess Di...

  2. Yeah, there's just something about the name Bertha that screams "Not attractive and inclined to be outsized." (Outsized is Brit-speak for obese or fat. If you see a word meaning fat or corpulent in a cryptic crossword clue, you know you need to get the letters OS into the resulting word.)

    There was a Bertha Weatherwax living next door when I was a child. That's got Eustace Scrubb beat cold.

  3. Betty Barbara here--
    I wore a lot of true yellow as a teen/young woman--back when I had a great tan. I loved it and I looked good. Alas, once my tan faded, so did my ability to wear yellow.

    For QC, see Here.

  4. LOL on the yellow dress Betty Kiera. BettyAriel married last year and we were all in dread as her favorite color was yellow. Fortunately the groom's was purple. The girls looked lovely wearing dark purple dresses and carrying sunflowers.

    And the book Bertha reads to Mrs. Duke....could our lovely Mrs. Neels have been tweaking Janette Oke who wrote her series of Love books, one a year from 1979-89. One of them is called Love's Enduring Promise. That's pretty close to Love's Undying Purpose. Just a thought....

  5. Betty Barbara here--
    Betty Mary--good idea about the Janette Oke. I was thinking of Mary Burchell (who started writing in the 30's)--a goodly number of her books feature the word love in the title, though not in the word combination needed.
    Or she just may have been making fun of the general racy romance titles of the day. We used to say that pretty soon the titles would all be Love's ****ing ****. (Fill in the blanks with your choice of rude words.)

    p.s.-Founding Bettys--Mary Burchell would make a good addition to your "Life After Betty" file. And she led a really interesting life!

  6. I love Mary Burchell's books, particularly her series about the opera & concert musicians. She and her sister would save up their money to come to New York and see all the operas on offer. Then, during the war, they worked hard to get Jews out of German occupation. Truly, Mary & her sister were heroes.

    Betty Henry's father was a QC, as was his father. Betty Ross's brother-in-law is a QC now, so I've heard recently about how one becomes a QC. I gather it's a bit of a good news, bad news situation: on the one hand, you can raise your fees because you're now a QC, on the other hand, people all assume that because you're a QC, you're going to be too expensive.

  7. Bettys Debbie and Keira,
    To continue the name discussion:
    If you've ever felt Queenly or Saintly, I've now got documentation to prove you may come by it honestly. However this honor comes with burdens, just check out the list of crazy named relatives, including Fulk!
    Our Claim to Royalty and Greatx40Grandpa Fulk

  8. I often feel Queenly and hardly feel Saintly (Day 9 of Christmas Vacation talking here). Discuss.

  9. I've got all the grown ones home. I'm enjoying it, definitely a Queen Mother! However, Betty Megan(aka #6)is less ebullient. Having numerous 'correctors' around is taking a toll on her happiness quotient.
    I do most of the cooking, but the kitchen is miraculously clean every morning, must be BettyAriel and her Prof. Justin der BearMan (they're both N.P.Rangers). But even the boys help out. I'm gonna miss 'em. And boy do I love staying home. I'd been a SAMH for 30 years, got my first full time job this year. It's great, but I miss sleeping in and having time to do stuff!!! I want vacation to last forever.

  10. I've been enjoying the sleeping in a little too much...Monday morning when my alarm goes off at 4:30am will be brutal.

    Even though I am technically a SAHM, I teach a 6am religion class for high school freshmen (5 days a week). Since I don't actually get paid for it, I don't think I lose my amatuer standing...

    Our family size is fast dwindling - I had three kids come home from college for Christmas, but I'm sending four off to college next week. My youngest is struggling a bit with feelings of abandonment since that will make him an 'only child'.

  11. Possibly Bertha was reading Barbara Cartland to Mrs. Duke - that sounds like one of Babs' titles.