Friday, August 6, 2010

Northanger Abbey Readalong: Chapters 16-23 #NARead

Readalong: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Participant list and schedule can be found on this post.

We read chapters 16 to 23 this past week.I'm amazed at how quickly these weeks are flying by. I'm also pretty amazed at how anxious I am to find out what happens and what the character's underlying motivations are.

Chapter 16
Catherine is virtually ignored by Tilney and bored by his father, the General, while dining with them.

Isabella rants against Tilney and says Tilney is unworthy of Catherine. But - John may be quite worthy of her.

Isabella is not pleased by the income offered to James after their wedding, but claims the real reason she is upset is that she has to wait 2 to 3 years before they can wed.

Chapter 17
The Allen's decide to extend their stay in Bath just as the Tilney's decide to leave.

Miss Tilney (or rather her father, really) invites Catherine to stay at Northanger Abbey - their home.

Chapter 18
Isabella tells Catherine that John is in love with her. He claims that Catherine encouraged his affection right before he left. Catherine has no memory of ever encouraging John Thorpe.

Isabella says she isn't mad about the John/Catherine situation, but goes one to say maybe Catherine didn't mean to lead him on - that it was an accident.

Isabella openly flirts with Tilney's older brother, the Captain, in front of Catherine.

Chapter 19
Catherine keeps an eye on Isabella as she continues to flirt with Captain Tilney.

Tilney tells Catherine that his brother is well aware of Isabella's engagement to James.

Chapter 20
On the trip to Northanger Abbey, Tilney entertains Catherine with a scary mystery story, much like her beloved Gothic novels.

Catherine finds herself a little disappointed by the modernness of the Abbey.

Chapter 21
Catherine sees a chest much like the one described in Tilney's story and can't help but check it out.

She does this again with a black cabinet, finding papers inside. Before she looks at them her candle blows out. She spends most of the night lying awake in the pitch black wondering about them.

Chapter 22
In the morning, Catherine finds the papers are nothing more than lists and receipts.

General Tilney takes a walk around the Abbey grounds with Catherine and Miss Tilney. Is he interested in Catherine or in showing off to promote his son?

As Miss Tilney mentions her mother, Catherine forms the opinion that the General was mean to his wife and didn't truly love her before she died.

Chapter 23
Catherine is taken on a tour of the inside of the house.

On again taking of the late Mrs. Tilney, Catherine jumps to the conclusion that the General could have killed her. Or even further - that Mrs. Tilney is alive and help prisoner by her husband in one of the rooms she didn't see on the tour.

She attempts to stay up late into the night to see what the General does after they go to sleep.

My overall thoughts so far
Catherine has a highly fertile imagination that could, and probably should, cause her to do something that will completely embarrass her in the eyes of the Tilneys.

Is it any surprise that Isabella has found interest in a new man now that she knows she won't become rich by marrying James? We knew she was motivated by greed in her relentless pursuit of James, but flirting with another man in front of his sister? Just wrong.

What is the deal with General Tilney? Is he just an overbearing man? Does he have interests in Catherine other than keeping her around for the company of his daughter and perhaps the potential match with is son? Does he want her for his own wife?

To sum up
I have decided that no one in Northanger Abbey deserves to be happy or get what they want. Catherine is too naive to be a heroine. John and Isabella are bad, greedy people. Tilney does nothing more than poke at Catherine's gullible nature. James should have seen this Isabella thing coming. The Captain deserves whatever he gets with Isabella and the General is kind of scary. Only Miss Tilney seems to be without obvious flaw and it appears the only thing she wants is to have had her mother alive to raise her. That ship has sailed.

More Week 3 Posts
Chelle's post @ The Prairie Library
Booksnob's post @ Book Snob

Discuss your thoughts, opinions, questions, etc in the comments. If you've written your own post, leave the link and I'll add it to this post.


  1. I am kind of with you so far on the characters not deserving happiness or easy lives. They all seem very self-involved to me. This has been really fun following along while ya'll are reading :)

  2. +JMJ+

    I have decided that no one in Northanger Abbey deserves to be happy or get what they want.


    Yes, they kind of "fail" as characters, don't they? (Except, of course, the obvious baddies, who aren't meant to end up happy anyway.) But I like Catherine and want to defend her here. If an ordinary reader entered a book and had to bear the burden of being the heroine, she'd probably fail miserably, too. And Catherine is, as Austen reminds us over and over, nothing more special than an ordinary reader. She is the closest thing Austen's own readers will ever get to having their own "Sue" characters, however much we may fancy that we'd turn into Elizabeth Bennet if we were transplanted to the page.

  3. @Felicia - Exactly! I'd even be ok with the self-involved-ness of everyone if they'd just hurry up and do something. All this wondering about what everyone is really up to is drivingme crazy.

    @Enbrethiliel - I get that Catherine is supposed to be average, just like I get that all of the characters are supposed to be caricatures really. I know that the book is a parody and should be read as such, but it's so easy to forget and wonder what the hell is wrong with them.

    I think there is a lot of humor in the book that's going over my head. Perhaps if I was reading the book when it was published or even if I had more experience with Gothic novels as a genre I think I would appreciate or at least notice the jokes more.

  4. I love Austen!! I've read almost all of her books!!

  5. Sigh, non of these charcters are particularly great people. But I am enjoying the book despite that fact. I'm getting antcy for Austen to reveal everyone's motives! My post is up and here's my URL:

  6. I have to agree although I do like Eleanor but the rest of them aren't exactly inspiring and at the moment Catherine is carrying on way below average and ordinary.

  7. +JMJ+

    Jennifer: Well, you're right: if I met Catherine in real life, I'd wonder what the heck was wrong with her, too. LOL!

  8. My favorite character is Henry, I think he is hilarious. My post is up for week 3. Here is the link:

  9. @Wijiha - This is my fourth book Jane Austen. She is one of the best "older" writers I've read.

    @Chelle - Linked to post. I dislike the characters, but I'm enjoying disliking them. Usually if I hate the characters, I hate the book, but Austen seems to have written them annoying on purpose which makes all the difference.

    @Cat - Yes, this whole Catherine being swept up in her imagination/Tileny's story thing is kind of out there. There was a feeling of danger to his story and she seems to be purposely trying to find trouble - like some sad version of an adrenaline junkie.

    @Enbrethiliel - Exactly. I I think I read most of my books as if they are real life and judge the characters based on how I would feel about them if I met them.

    @Booksnob - Linked post. I think I've dated a lot of Tilney's in my life and that's why I'm kind of wary of him. The joke-ey attitude, seeming to not take anything seriously, not being able to get a firm read on his feelings - yeah been there.