Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Where was Betsy-Tacy during my childhood? The Conclusion

As I left off with the Betsy-Tacy series back in November, I had just finished Betsy's high school years and I wasn't too impressed. I don't know, Betsy In Spite of Herself and Betsy and Joe just seemed to lack the...imagination...that the earlier titles possessed. It probably had something to do with Betsy growing up and dealing with "serious" matters like school and boys. But I just thought Betsy was kind of a nitwit who tried way too hard.

So luckily, when I picked back up with Betsy and the Great World, Betsy had a couple of post-high school years under her belt and was now a mature 20-something. Thank GOD.

In Betsy and the Great World, our heroine has grown up a bit. Betsy is beyond the childish drama and emotions of high school and is traveling throughout Europe just before WWI breaks out. Betsy and Joe have broken up and Betsy spends time in Germany, Venice, London, and Paris trying to get him out of her head. Of course, she makes quick, close friendships in every place she visits (even on the boat crossing the Atlantic!). This one in the series was so refreshing for three reasons:
  1. Finally, NO MORE HIGH SCHOOL. The previous four books—the high school years—seemed to run together. I was tired of the same old drama.
  2. On the same note, no more frivolous, immature Betsy! I know these high school years were just as necessary for Betsy as they are for everyone else, but I sure was missing the confident, independent gal I'd gotten to know so well. This probably has something to do with my own tendency to shudder a bit and quickly change the subject when I think about my own immature personality in my teen years.
  3. Europe! Betsy had these adventures, the kind that, when you are experiencing them, you just can't believe you're actually doing it. Like, I backpacked through Europe after college graduation and frequently stopped and thought, "Wow I am backpacking through Europe." Nothing seems scary, nothing seems unreasonable, and everything just seems AWESOME. That feeling is fun to read.
One thing I'm always struck by with these books: the descriptions of the clothes and hair and jewelry always sound so elegantly fabulous. Then I see the real-life photos in the back of the book (which I love), and everyone just looks so...Victorian frumpy! Does anyone else suffer from this disconnect??

The final book, Betsy's Wedding, picks up immediately after Betsy's European tour with her and Joe's long-awaited reunion (and, I won't spoil it, but the way by which they contact each other again is the BEST). Betsy and Joe get married (that's not a spoiler...you can read that on the back of the book), and suddenly, you KNOW Betsy is grown up. 

This final chapter in the Betsy-Tacy series reminded me a bit of the Betty Smith classic I just read, Joy in the Morning. It's more about the simple things day-in and day-out in the lives of a young newlywed couple. Betsy's world traveling adventures seemed to have ended and now she's focusing on (and excited for!) things like making curtains and having babies. Betsy's life has gradually been taken over by the Real World; the Great War has begun and things get more serious rather than carefree. It seems like a bittersweet ending, when the unpredictability of youth paves way for adulthood and routine (though one that is loved). But knowing our Betsy, despite reaching the age of husband, babies, and white picket fences, her adventures will never be over.

1 comment:

Kari said...

Perfect, thanks for the suggestion. I was so bummed that I had nothing left to read, but now I'll have to get my hands on it!