Saturday, August 7, 2010

Read-Along - Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 3

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 3 - Chapters 16 - 23

Catherine has dinner with the Tilneys and is surprised at the quiet atmosphere.
Henry's older brother, Captain Frederick Tilney, arrives in Bath and begins a flirtation with Isabella.
Henry comments on Catherine's attitude pointing out that she always transfers her own motivations to other people.
Isabella receives a letter from James telling her they cannot marry for several years when he will receive a small income. Isabella is not happy!
The Tilneys stay in Bath is coming to an end and Catherine is delighted when General Tilney asks her to accompany them and stay at Northanger Abbey.
Catherine asks Henry to tell Frederick to leave I sabella alone and he refuses.

Off to Northanger Abbey

On the way Henry tells Catherine a gothic tale of storms, hidden chests and secret passages.
Catherine is horribly disappointed when she discovers that the abbey is not all as she imagined and is very up to date and modernised.
A storm heightens Catherine's imagination and in a cabinet in her bedroom she discovers some old papers - only to find in the morning they are laundry lists.
Catherine shows little interest in being shown around the abbey but is constantly looking for anything that will conform to her idea of what it should be.  A walk with Eleanor and a conversation about her dead mother leaves Catherine thinking the General was not good to his fact he may even have done away with her.
She determines to stay awake and spy and on the General.

Thoughts: The whole tone of the book changes during these chapters and it takes a while to adjust to. Much of the pleasure of reading Jane Austen is her wonderful observations of social life and the dialogue of the characters. I even found myself missing Isabella and John!
On one level I'm enjoying Jane's sendup of the gothic novel, it's very amusing , but increasingly the story is coming from only Catherine's perspective and she can be very exasperating. Her imagination is getting totally out of control as is her growing dislike of the general and any hopes I had of her earlier are fast disappearing.
Of course, there is always that little novel reading voice of my own which whispers ' maybe she's right!".
I think it more likely she's going to get herself in a right pickle.
This was the perfect place to stop reading - I can't wait to see how its all going to turn out.


  1. I think Cathrine had a little too much sherry at dinner. She's starting to get a little loopy and obsessive about the General.

  2. Catherine's imagination has gone crazy. She can't rope herself in at all. I'm hoping she doesn't hurt anyone but I suspect she may make a fool of herself.