Monday, August 9, 2010

Northanger Abbey Chapters 10-23 #NARead

I'm taking part in a read-along group hosted at Reading with Tequila. For four weeks we'll be taking a few chapters each week and blogging/chatting about them. This has been the third week and we've gotten about 3/4 through the novel (about 150 pages). Due to the previously mentioned computer issues I suffered from last week, I will be combining weeks 2 and 3.

~ Northanger Abbey ~
by Jane Austen
Chapters 10 - 23

When we last left off, Catherine Morland, our heroine, was struggling between the advances of John Thorpe and the desire to better know Henry Tilney. Not that she would ever say so herself, for she is much too polite, and would never dream of openly refusing one for the other.

In this installment, the intrigue only intensifies. Catherine tries to make a good impression with the Tilneys (Henry, his sister Eleanor, and his father General Tilney) but John Thorpe will not be ignored. He sabotages one meeting by telling Catherine he'd seen the Tilneys on their way elsewhere, then nearly sabotages another by telling the Tilneys that Catherine has other plans!

Luckily, our heroine is not so easily detained. In an act most unbefitting of a lady, she flees her present company (Isabella and John Thorpe, and her brother James) and bursts into the Tilney's home to inform them of the misinformation. She is rewarded not only with a pleasant walk and conversation, but with an invitation to the Tilney's estate, Northanger Abbey!

Before she departs, however, there is even more intrigue among her friends. Her brother proposes to Isabella, and both parties happily consent to the marriage. Isabella, however, seems to have different ideas on how an engaged woman is to act, for she repeatedly seeks out and dances with Henry's (recently arrived) brother, Captain Tilney. Oh, and apparently John has informed the Morlands that Catherine has agreed to marry him...

But surely those issues can wait until she returns from Northanger Abbey. That is...if she returns...for with mysterious chests and wardrobes in her room, unexplored hallways of the Abbey, and a malevolent General Tilney (who quite possibly killed or imprisoned his wife) to deal with, who knows if our heroine will make it out alive!

I'm loving the novel now, it was really hard to put it down to write this (albeit late) update. It took forever to get to Northanger Abbey—it wasn't even mentioned until chapter 17 (volume 2, chapter 2)—but so far I'm very pleased with it.

Henry Tilney is as charming as ever. There are a couple times where he's edging on pompous, but his sister reins him in quickly enough. I love his humor, and the fact that he's not afraid to say he loves novels. In fact, his gothic story with which he teases Catherine was possibly the most charming part of the novel.

The siblings, Isabella and John, are characters you love to hate. Both are obsessed with money, a fact which each lets slip at different times (Catherine, of course, is oblivious). John lies to get what he wants, whether it be to Catherine or to others. Isabella uses flattery and guilt to manipulate poor Catherine, and, no doubt, James. She's engaged to marry (in 2 years?!) James, yet she still seeks Captain Tilney's attentions.

Catherine finally grew a bit of a backbone (when she stood up to her friends and ran to the Tilneys), though she's still not very bright. There are multiple instances where she attempts to be subtle and ladylike, but is about as unsubtle as a brick. Then there's the fact that she doesn't realize that John's flirting with her or proposing to marry her, until Isabella mentions it. Luckily, Catherine has never been sold as all that clever, so it's not frustrating or contradictory to her character at all.

She is, however, fiercely loyal and innocent, never thinking badly of her friends. Even after John's lies, she doesn't condemn him. Granted, she's not all that happy with him, and she doesn't enjoy being alone with him, but she doesn't badmouth him to others or slap him, which is more than I could say for myself. She also thinks the best of Isabella, even when it's obvious that she's encouraging Captain Tilney as much as he's pursuing her.

I also love her imagination—even when she gets a little carried away by it. Northanger Abbey sounds like an amazing place to explore, but Catherine is no Belle and so she doesn't go (or hasn't yet gone) exploring on her own. And her thoughts about General Tilney being a crazed killer/kidnapper makes me roll my eyes, but chuckle at the same time. I can't wait until the confrontation!

Next up, chapter 24 to the end!