Saturday, August 14, 2010

Read-Along - Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 4

Hosted by Jennifer at Reading with Tequila - July 16 - August 12

One of the first of Jane Austen's novels to be written, and one of the last to be published, Northanger Abbey is both an amusing story of how a naive girl enters society and wins the affection of a witty young clergyman, and a high-spirited parody of the lurid Gothic novels that were popular during Austen's youth. In the process it features a vivid account of social life in late eighteenth-century Bath, and Austen's famous defence of the novel as a literary form.

Week 4 - our last week and the final installment . The month seems to have flown by so quickly.

Chapters 24 - 31

Catherine accompanies the family to church where the memorial to Mrs Tilney does nothing to allay her suspicions of the General......"the erection of the monument itself could not in the smallest degree affect her doubts of Mrs Tilney's actual decease."
She is determined to see Mrs Tilney's old bedroom but her first attempt with Eleanor present is thwarted by the return of the General. Later she succeeds on her own and is dismayed to find that the bedroom is in the new part of the abbey and there is nothing at all mysterious about it. On the way back she is caught by Henry who not only explains exactly the circumstances of his mother's death but gives Catherine a good telling off.

This was one of my favourite chapters. I liked how Henry not only reads Catherine so well but has the courage to tell her and explain how muddled and distorted her thinking is. I also like that Jane Austen didn't prolong the gothic parts - it was enough to add interest and some extra fun but I couldn't have stood Catherine playing the heroine for too long.
She takes a giant step forward when " Henry's address, short as it had been, had more thoroughly opened her eyes to the extravagance of her late fancies...."

Catherine receives two letters.............the first from James informing her that his engagement to Isabella has ended and she is now engaged to Frederick Tilney - news that causes much speculation between the three young people.
The second from Isabella a few days later to say Frederick has left her for the charms of another. Isabella has received her just desserts...........impossible to feel any sympathy for her. Although she attempts to coerce Catherine into pleading her cause with James, Catherine is finally seeing Isabella as she really is and wants nothing more to do with her.

Plans to extend Catherine's stay at Northanger Abbey are made but then the General returns from a few days away and tells Eleanor Catherine must go home. The next morning, without saying goodbye to Henry, she is sent off.
Two days of sulking until Knight Henry rides to the rescue, explains the reasons for his father's change in attitude, and asks to marry Catherine.
The happy event takes place a few months later when the General finally gives his permission after Eleanor marries into a wealthy family.

Northanger Abbey may not be as popular as other Jane Austen novels but I've enjoyed my time sharing the adventures of Catherine immensely.
Thanks, Jennifer - I probably would never have got around to reading it if not for the readalong.


  1. I must read Northanger Abbey, I cannot believe I haven't...I am thoroughly embarrassed...!

  2. Thanks for joining us Cat! I tend to put off the classics, so the readalong was definitely the motivation I needed as well.

    I really enjoyed Henry telling off Catherine and her understanding what he was saying. For all his mocking, at least she knew to take that seriously.

  3. I also enjoyed the "telling off" scene and was happy Catherine pulled herself together afterwards.

    Something good/exciting often happens when we least expect it. I think this is what happens to Catherine. When she finally checks her imagination and thinks the romance is over, Henry comes and saves the day. It's def. happily-ever-after stuff but I guess it works.