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 Post subject: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 16 Dec 2015, 08:03 
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Having just finished my first read of this latest 'fill in', I wondered what others thought about it. I really like Helen Barber's writing, and think she catches the characters of the young Bettanys very well. It was especially good to see Madge being the central figure both at home and school, and to see her not only learning to manage her feelings about the loss of her parents but also coping with the difficult circumstances brought about in a country at war. It was also good to see a little more of Dick and how he tried hard to be the man of the family. Helen conveys well the sacrifices made by the twins to ensure that little Joey feels secure and loved.

Rather like the current Christmas drabbles, this new book frequently made me go 'ah'! I hope Helen has more ideas for prequels, which I think work slightly better than fill ins set during the series where there are naturally more constraints for the author.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 16 Dec 2015, 09:08 
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I also enjoyed seeing Madge being the central figure, and I thought Helen made some excellent points in the foreword and afterword about the long-term effects of the Great War on people who were growing up during that time, and also about how it must have affected EBD, who was only a few years older than Madge at the start of the series. The effect on the community came across well too: one of the saddest things about the Great War was the way they had Pals Battalions etc, so one community could see numerous losses all at the same time.

My one whinge was the choice of names :lol: . Surely Madge's friend "Spider" had a proper name, but what was it? And was she any relation to Miss (May) Carthew? And were the van der Windts in the book any relation to Arda van der Windt?

I wonder if she might write a prequel about Grizel?

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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 16 Dec 2015, 23:26 
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I really, really enjoyed this book. The characters seemed to come alive to me, even Gardy. I was completely in the dark as to what Nanny was up to but I like the thought of a temperance hotel. Oh that we still had them!

When I put it on my bookshelf I couldn't but help notice how many other Helen Barbers were there. Part of me says "Take a rest" and part of me says "Please can we have another one?"


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 16 Dec 2015, 23:40 
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Temperance hotels don't sound like much fun to me :lol:, and I doubt they would have appealed to the CS people with their "old friend" light country wines either :wink: - however, for people to whom they would appeal, we do have Britain's last remaining temperance bar, about 15 miles from chez moi - here.

I really would like to see a prequel about the Cochranes, now that the world of pre-CS Taverton is established.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 17 Dec 2015, 00:28 
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I really loved the book and am on a second reading. I'm puzzled about ages though. If Joey was one or two (?) in 1914 at the start of the Great War, she would be 20 in 1932 and 27 by the time the triplets came along.
Am I missing something very obvious here?

I also thought Spider could be Miss Carthew and searched the book for her real name to no avail!


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 17 Dec 2015, 09:13 
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Jo's age is very flexible!

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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 17 Dec 2015, 09:15 
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Carrie A wrote:
Jo's age is very flexible!


Along with quite a few other things in CS Land! :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 17 Dec 2015, 13:50 
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jmc296 wrote:
I really loved the book and am on a second reading. I'm puzzled about ages though. If Joey was one or two (?) in 1914 at the start of the Great War, she would be 20 in 1932 and 27 by the time the triplets came along.
Am I missing something very obvious here?


Well, it fits with Joey being 12ish when School at was written in 1924/25, and Madge's age also fits with School at (it also fits with the comments much later in Exile about Madge having grown up during WW1 / the Blitz).

After that, EBD doesn't write books as fast as "real time" moves, so things rapidly get out of kilter.

(Which is why I've never bothered with trying to make it all fit. It doesn't. I do wish EBD was slightly more internally consistent with the relative ages of her characters, but other than that, I don't think it's worth worrying about :D )


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 17 Dec 2015, 18:06 
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Just got my copy in the post today and can't wait to read it. If Helen does decide to write another prequel I'd like to see one about Madge and Dick's life in India before their parents died


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 17 Dec 2015, 21:14 
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I like it a lot, i like the style, the story is good but not in a "must stay up til 3am to finish it" way. I like Madge's character and Spider (who incidentially is called Spider in Taverton High too) and Miss Harding reminds me of Madge in the early Tyrol days. It's a fairly accurate portrayal of reactions to the outbreak of wat and life in the first year. The only thing I wasn't too sure of was the Nanny storyline, surely someone knew who she was and would have let the cat out of the bag.

Jo's age was always going to be tricky to pin down. Age 20/21 when the triplets arrive in 1939 makes her 1918/9 born in exile but the logistics of Madge being a schoolgirl in England in 1914-18 and the younger Bettany's returning from India and settled before War was declared make it tricky. I think Helen did a good job of balancing internal and time specific consistency, she's obviously concentrated on dating it in relation to the early CS books.. which makes sense as that's when it's set.

I don't think it's my favourite fill in but it's certainly one I'll happily read again.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 20 Dec 2015, 21:28 
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Laura V wrote:
Just got my copy in the post today and can't wait to read it. If Helen does decide to write another prequel I'd like to see one about Madge and Dick's life in India before their parents died


That would be good - as would the year in which the family travelled with Guardian to Europe. I often wonder how this came about, and whether Madge and Joey had a chaperone and if so, who this might have been.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 06 Jan 2016, 23:40 
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I enjoyed this, but not as much as I liked the Bettanys of Taverton High. Perhaps as I enjoyed that so much my expectations for this were too high.

Regardless, I finished it in less than a day and I felt that Dick was portrayed very well that is just what I imagine him being like when he was younger, and I liked the relationship between the three of them.

I'm curious though, would Dick have been just too young to get called up towards the end of the war? Was he just turning 18 or would he have been older?

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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 06 Jan 2016, 23:54 
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Madge and Dick have just turned 14 at the start of this book, so they'd have turned 18 on July 4th 1918. So, theoretically, Dick could have been called up before the war ended, although, by the time the powers that were had contacted him and he'd done his training, it would probably have been after the Armistice.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2016, 11:09 
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Dick was my favourite part of this one. He was so jolly and boyish. I liked that he obviously trusted Madge's judgment and respected her and she missed him when he was at school. Very realistic background given both characters' temperaments and relationship as adults.

I wondered if Madge names her daughter for the nice prefect, Sybil. And makes her Sybil's godmother, but never tells her. That way, if anything ever happens to Madge, Sybil can walk around Oxford until she bumps into the former prefect, and boom! Life sorted. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2016, 18:33 
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mynameisdumbnuts wrote:

I wondered if Madge names her daughter for the nice prefect, Sybil. And makes her Sybil's godmother, but never tells her. That way, if anything ever happens to Madge, Sybil can walk around Oxford until she bumps into the former prefect, and boom! Life sorted. :lol:


:lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2016, 22:15 
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Recently finished this, and really enjoyed seeing more of the younger Madge and Dick. Hopefully there will be more :)

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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 15 Feb 2016, 03:35 
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Just finished this - I'm a Helen Barber fan and this one did not disappoint! I liked seeing more of the early days (would have liked to see some explanation of "Spider") and loved the tennis tournament. Shades of Downton Abbey in a few places.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 15 Feb 2016, 08:14 
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I, too, am a Helen Barber fan and really enjoy the background she creates for the early years. Let's hope she writes more for this period. :)


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 18 Feb 2016, 17:03 
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I always imaged that Spider was actually Ida


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 Post subject: Re: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2016, 18:04 
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I've just read this and felt it was a good enough book but that it was a little too detached from EBD.

"The Bettanys of Taverton High" does a good job using the clues that EBD leaves about life before the CS. Perhaps that meant that there wasn't much left to be worked in but TBHF seems to be more an explanation of some of the clues thrown out in TBTH than about EBD's characters. (That is: it is a prequel to TBTH rather than to the CS series)

As has been previously mentioned, I found some of the naming confusing. In TBTH, we are told that some of the naming is deliberate to provide links between different books, but we aren't given this information about TBIF. I assumed it was deliberate but, as it wasn't dealt with, I was left wondering whether we were seeing the "set-up" for another book (in which all will be Made Plain to those of us familiar with the CS) and that was distracting.

I was particularly disappointed by one of the few facts we have about this time - the visit of Ted Humphries - isn't used.


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