Monday, February 12, 2024

The Betsy Tacy Book Club
- Book 1 - Betsy Tacy Discussion

Good morning, friends! I am back from my social media fast and ready to discuss all things Betsy-Tacy with you this morning!

If this is your first time reading this delightful series, I hope you have enjoyed getting to knowBetsy Ray and Tacy Kelly! In reading this series again for the first time in many years, I was reminded of the first time I was introduced to it and how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am happy to report that my enthusiasm has not waned in the least! This series remains one of my all time favorites!

For the sake of turning this post into a short story of its own, I thought I would just highlight a few of the happenings in the first book that I particularly loved.

First off, I just loved Betsy and Tacy's first meeting, and in many ways I so relate to Tacy, especially, who darted at the sight of Betsy running towards her, and then in her own way, trying to push past her shy fears and shouting out her name just as she closed herself safe behind the door.  But of course, Betsy didn't know at the time that Tacy was terribly shy, and not understanding what she said, she mistook it for name calling. My heart always breaks for Betsy in that moment, too, who was so excited to potentially have a friend just her age, only to be disappointed when things not only didn't turn out as she had planned, but mistook her for being rude. Of course, eventually they make things right and all is forgiven.  Being an introvert, I've been misunderstood a time or too, myself, so I'm so glad that Betsy was able to reach a place of understanding, and all the more so as she came to know Tacy better.

There are two other passages in this book that I always find especially sweet and endearing and the first is in Chapter 8 - Easter Eggs. Tacy's little sister, Bee, has just passed away and the two girls have not played together for awhile and Betsy has grown especially lonely for Tacy's company.  In the story Betsy dresses without disturbing anyone and walks over and stands outside Tacy's house.  Eventually Tacy comes out and the two walk together up to their little bench at the top of the hill where they decide to climb a tree. After awhile Tacy begins to open up about Bee's death and funeral. How pretty she looks surrounded by candles, and how sad her mama was, and at some point Tacy started to become emotional. That was when Betsy did what she often does, she begins to tell Tacy a story of how beautiful heaven is, and when Tacy questions whether Bee can see them, Betsy assures her that she can. Eventually they climb up a little higher in the tree and place a lovely purple egg for the birsds to take to Bee in heaven. 

The thing I find particularly lovely about this part of the story is how Betsy, even at her tender age, didn't push Tacy for information.  She simply wanted to be with her friend doing the the things they had always done together, and that created a safe place for Tacy to open up. When Tacy became emotional, the author says that it made Betsy "feel queer", but rather than asking Tacy not to cry or completely changing the subject, Betsy begins to speak of all of the positive things that Bee is now experiencing in heaven, and assuring her friend that Bee is safe and well.

I think so often in life, especially during seasons of grief, even well meaning people can bombard others with the inquistions and their odd way of wanting to know all the details. If you've experienced the death of a loved one, you probably know that after awhile you really do become weary of answering all the questions and rehashing it all. It is good to have a friend who is comfortable enough to sit with you in silence, or even just invite you to lunch and not even bring up the heartache you are experiencing, but at the same time, remains open should you feel the need to discuss it. That kind of friend can be hard to find.

And then later in Chapter 12 - Margarent, Tacy has an opportunity to return the favor.  Betsy has just come home from spending the summer away to find that she has a new baby sister. With the time frame of the first book being roughly 1898 or 1899, I assume that in those days families did not discuss such things as pregnancy, and with Betsy being away most of the summer I suppose it woud have been easy for to have no clue that her mother was expecting. Still, I remember when I read this the first time thinking it was a little odd that Betsy had no idea her mother was pregnant. Regardless, what we do know is that Betsy did not warm to the idea at first, in fact she became quiet upset about it. As was the case when Betsy went and stood outside Tacy's window after Bee's death, Tacy instinctively knew where to find her friend, and, as Betsy had done for her, she did not make Betsy feel she was wrong for being upset. Instead she comforted Betsy with her own experiences of having younger siblings; "You can't keep on being the baby forever," Tacy said. That statement alone assured Betsy. To know that Tacy had once been the baby herself and she seemed ok. Tacy also assured her that even though the baby was funny looking now, it would get prettier, and after awhile Betsy was feeling much better about her new baby sister.

I love that in this part of the story it is Tacy who is the comforter, which is very different than the shy, reserved little girl who often has nothing to say. The author even points this out; "All of the sudden she thought how odd it was that Tacy should be talking like this. Usually she herself did most of the talking.  But now Tacy was doing the talking. She was trying to comfort Betsy. And she had comforted her. All the sore hurt feelings were gone."

I am in season, even this late in my life, in which God is growing me. He has placed me in situations recently where I mayself have been called on to comfort and encourage others, which is as odd a thing for me as I'm sure it was for Tacy. And isn't it lovely how often in life love compels us step out of our comfort zone to be there for another?  I also relate very much to Betsy in this chapter, as well. I was almost seven when my brother was born, and while I had known for awhile that my mother was expecting, I really had my heart set on a sister and recall being visiblly upset when my father came home from the hospital with the news that I had a baby brother. But like Betsy, it didn't take long for me to push past my disappointments. Almost seven years separated us, so we never had a lot in common, but I have many wonderful memories of the things we shared together as children.

So now it's your turn! What were some of your thoughts, favorite chapters, passages as you read through this first book in the series?  Are you enjoing it so far, looking forward to move on to the next book, Betsy Tacy and Tib (who we were introduced at the end). I'd love to hear from you! Just leave your entry in the comments, and then join me here again on Monday, March 4, as we continue the discussion!


Anonymous said...

I am behind in my reading and recently finished reading Betsy-Tacy for the first time ever! I enjoyed the book very much. I could relate to the meeting of Betsy and Tacy, as I vividly remember standing at the dining room window in my childhood home and watching as a family was touring the house for rent next door. I saw them walk outside and there was a little girl about my age. I was hoping that they would move in and they did! I was 4 years old and that little girl was 3 years old at the time. She and I became best friends and have remained friends over the years (about 58 years, in fact)! We actually had lunch together last week and live not quite 2 hours apart these days. I need to ask her if she has read this book!

One thing I found amusing throughout the book was how the younger girls, Betsy and Tacy, view their older sisters, Julia and Katie, and how Betsy and Tacy feel that they have so much more fun than the older sisters. Those little girls have a lot of spunk! I also enjoy how the ladies of the community know who the girls are and welcome, and play along with, their antics.

I was moved by Chapter 8 - Easter Eggs, as well. At such as sad time, Betsy was able to mourn with Tacy, and to use her bright spirit to make Tacy feel loved and less forlorn. That is true friendship.

I agree that in Chapter 12 - Margaret, Tacy was able to help Betsy to see that having a new baby in the family was a blessing. I'm sure you're correct, that Betsy's mother's pregnancy was not discussed with the children. I was also thinking that because of the dress styles at the time, that Betsy's mother may not have appeared any different to her before she and her sister, Julia, went to the farm to visit.

I have started reading Betsy-Tacy and Tib and am enjoying it so far too! I will try to speed up my reading schedule. Thank you for introducing me to this series. I'm excited to see what they get into next!


Kimberly Lottman said...

Hi Judith! When no one responsed to my post, I didn't think anyone was interested in reading along with me, which would have been fine. But that is why I still haven't posted about the second book. But now that I see that you are joining in, and especially since its your first time reading the series, I will definitely make sure to write the monthly posts. I'll have the one for the second book, Betsy Tacy and Tib up over the next couple of days! I'm so glad you are enjoying the books so far!

- Kim

Anonymous said...

Hello! No pressure to reply, but I wanted to let you know that I have finished reading the first three books in the series and to say thank you for recommending them.

Hope you are doing well.