Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Night Gardener

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading ListThe idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured books, (and I still do), that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would be reading or interested in reading.

It started with one review, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

So I have been wanting to read this book FOREVER. But every time I would check it out, I wouldn’t get a chance-I’d have too many books checked out, things happened, I’m too busy, etc-and I would have to return it.

Finally the stars aligned and I was able to read it. The book is written for middle schoolers and a quick read-made even quicker by the fact that as soon as I started reading it, it sucked me in.

I can’t put the book down

The book takes place during the Irish Potato Famine and two siblings emigrate from Ireland to England to work at a country estate: Kip and Molly. Molly is older and made the arrangements to work, job they are in dire need of as their parents are dead (something Molly has kept hidden from Kip). Molly uses stories to distract and cheer Kip, who is gifted with a green thumb, but suffers from lame leg.

As they travel to the Windsor manor they get stopped by a gypsy fortune teller who tells them the house they are going to is haunted.

Yes, years ago when the current Master Windsor was a boy something killed his family, he was the only one to survive, escaping to family in London. It was very mysterious and strange, and many believe it to be ghosts, a monster, or something.

Kip starts wondering if there is truth to the tales, but Molly ignores it. It can’t be true, she needs it to be not be true as they need these jobs.

Please, oh please! from Death Comes to Pemberley

When they get there, the house is nothing like Molly thought it would be. The house is beautiful but dirty and not kept up at all-things look like they haven’t been washed in forever, there is dust and dirt everywhere, etc.

Haunted house!

There is also a giant, black, gnarled, tree that is connected to the house, as if it grew into it or the house was built into the tree. Looking at it, it makes both Molly and Kip uncomfortable-although they are not sure why.

The family is very unusual, cold, and greedy. Mr. Windsor stutters, has no gumption, and is a pale dark haired man who is constantly trying to get money. He has a secret study that no one is allowed to enter. Constance is cold and harsh toward the “help” as she calls them, in fact she won’t let Kip in the house as her family might catch what he has and become cripples too (her word). She was used to the fine life in London and misses it. She has a ton of rings on her fingers and always seems to be getting more somehow. Very odd as the Windsor family complains about a lack of funds.

Hmm…

The son Alistair is greedy boy who is always eating candy and is cruel to his sister. But where does he get this candy from. He has dark hair like his father and mother.

Penny is the youngest and is greedy for stories and attention, but otherwise is a good child. She is enthralled with Molly’s copper hair, something she used to have. Molly thinks that is odd, even more so when she sees a portrait of them on the wall-all with bright skin, bright colored hair-nothing like the dour, dark haired, and ghostly pale skin they have now.

Hmm…

Kip starts working in the yard and loves growing things, but still feels unease about that tree. But there are things down in the yard he did not do. Things planted. But who could be doing that?

Hmm…

The longer they stay there the harder it is to leave. At night they have bad dreams and hear something stalking in the night. Penny tells Molly of a night man in the house clomping through and going outside. Molly doesn’t believe her…at first, but then one night, she is sneaking her brother into the house and the two see a man-a ghostly, creepy, scary man who works on the yard but espechially with the dark and disturbing tree.

Creepy…

Then Molly discovers a secret. The tree in the house grants you a wish of your heart-but once given it is impossible to stop going back. Constance Windsor had a ring that was worth nothing, but given before Mr. Windsor made money. He sold it when they needed funds and the tree gave her a copy, and she can’t stop trying to get it back.

Alistair’s favorite memory was when his father and him spent the day together and went to a candy store. He can’t stop getting or eating candy, trying to relive the memory. Penny has special books that are stories about her. For Molly she gets letters from her parents, letters that tell of the same stories she has been feeding her brother.

Wow!

But Molly quickly learns to be careful for what you wish for as the price might be more than you want to pay. She too finds herself becoming bound to the tree, her copper hair and imaginative self being sucked away as she waits for more letters. Will Molly and Kip be able to save themselves and the Windsor family? Or will they meet their end?

Hmmm…

I LOVED this book. It was so spooky and reminded me of other Gothic tales I grew up reading. I espechially loved the imagery of the tree feeding on them, stealing their souls essentially, taking from them and they know it is feeding off them-but they can’t stop it.

Creepy…

It was extremely spooky and creepy-just how I like it.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Secrets of the Heart

For more Gothic Fiction, go to House of Salt and Sorrows

Jane in Love

Happy Valentine’s Day

So today is Valentine’s Day and usually this would be the 14th romantic moment, but as I didn’t do that this year and decided to post something else instead:

This book was given to me by a friend, she knows me so well.

I read it in January, but I decided to wait on the review as I have mixed feelings about this book. Half of it I liked and the other half I didn’t.

Hmm…

So Jane in Love tells of two stories: Jane Austen and Sofia Wentworth. Jane Austen has not written any of her novels yet, but is living in Bath with her parents as they are trying to match her up. She meets a charming man, her last chance, and falls for him, but he gets engaged to someone else. She is upset and embarrassed when a neighborhood women tells her to travel to an address in London, where her dreams will come true.

Broken dreams, illusions, hopes, etc.

Hurt, upset, vulnerable she does it and is given a spell. Once completed, she travels forward to 2020 where she ends up on the set of a new adaption of Northanger Abbey. She runs into the star of the show, Sofia Wentworth.

Sofia Wentworth is a British Hollywood star-famous for being Batwoman and other sexy powerful women. But now she is 37 and the young starring roles are no longer being offered to her. Instead, she is getting older roles. This Northanger Abbey production is extra painful as she was not given the starring role of Catherine but instead Mrs. Allen, the girl Courtney Smith playing Catherine is also replacing her as Batgirl, her husband is the director and has left her for another woman, and she can’t leave the production or she will have to pay a big fee.

Truth is, Sofia doesn’t really want to leave the production. She wants to be in it to try and win her husband back! When she runs into Jane Austen she thinks that it is a practical joke. She had suggested a behind-the-scenes Jane Austen tie-in and it was denied. She thinks that they decided to do it and not tell her, some joke of her husband to try and upset her into signing the divorce papers. She takes Jane Austen with her, thinking she is an actress and there are cameras following her-having her stay with her and her brother Fred Wentworth.

Eventually, Sofia believes that Jane is Jane Austen and tries to help her find a way back, getting help from an adorable librarian, Dave Croft, as she has very little science fiction knowledge. But as she is doing that Fred puts the moves on Jane and Jane starts wondering if she should go back.

But the longer she stays the more her novels disappear. If she stays she will have love but never be able to write again (the exchange of the spell). But if she goes she will kiss her only chance at true love, marriage, and family good bye. Should she go and write her timeless tales, or should she stay and marry Fred?

At a crossroads (from Pocahontas)

So let’s start with what I love:

Sofia Wentworth

Sofia Wentworth’s character and journey was the best part of the book. In fact, I was so intrigued I skipped the Jane Austen romance and skipped ahead so that I could read what happened to her.

Tell ME!!!!!

She was an amazing savvy character who one just felt for. She is in love with her husband, Jack Travers, who has zero appreciation for her except what she brings to him. He loved that she knew movies and could help his productions, he loved that she was attractive and made him look good, he loved how she would take care of everything while he edited his films, and he loved how she would make decisions for the production when he was uncertain.

But he didn’t really love her, and Sofia doesn’t realize it. Although as she continues on this journey with Jane Austen she starts to view herself and her husband differently. She also painfully finds out that the woman her husband has left her for is the same woman she is acting with-her Catherine, Courtney Smith, the very same woman who replaced her as Batgirl.

After meeting Jane and beginning her quest to help her-Sofia starts surrounding herself with positive people, such as Derek who is her makeup person and very encouraging. He helps her stand up to Courtney and reminds her that she isn’t some aging sad person-she is beautiful makeup or no, strong, powerful, and intelligent.

She also meets the librarian, Dave Croft, who helps her on her quest. I loved Dave Croft and the way he treats her as he doesn’t pity her, he doesn’t treat her as an object, or tries to use her to make himself look good. He doesn’t believe her tale of Jane Austen at first, but knows she is seriously upset about something. He doesn’t want anything from her other than to help her as her acting brought relief to his mother when she was ill with cancer. He finds her very attractive, but the first things he compliments on is the person she is.

How sweet!

I loved the part when Sofia classily schools Courtney in acting, that was like best scene ever as I was really hating on Courtney being such a jerk. Or when Courtney tries to embarrass her by setting her up wih the production assistant who was a major yuck! But Dave shows up and rescues her from embarrassment. And Dave completely fires a painful shot right at Jack, the perfect diss! So much fun!

I really liked this as it is so important to surround you by people who will be good friends and help you see the truth, something that can be found in all of Jane Austen’s works. We need good friends-you see the clearest example of that in Emma. Everyone needs a Mr. Knightley.

I also really liked the conversation that Jane and Sofia have about Mrs. Allen. That coupled with the Northanger Abbey audiobook made me think of Mrs. Allen in a different way, Her focus on clothes and fashion, possibly filling a hole of secret sadness. And I’m thinking that sadness is her lack of children, as that is the only thing that consoles her when Mrs. Thorpe talks about her children. And Jane helps Sofia to see that as she is no longer chained to being the hot, sexy vixen-she can now be whatever she wants to be-whoever she wants to be.

Jane’s words even help Sofia be nice to Courtney, a miracle in itself. And hearing Courtney’s complain about her soon to be ex-husband Jack helps Sofia see that Jack is a major jerk. She’s better off without him.

I love Sofia’s care of Jane as well. When Jane is struggling with what to decide, Sofia encourages her in either decision and gives her the possible outcomes of staying or going.

I also loved how Jane is amazed at everything we have in the future from chocolate, to pens, to sugar at such low prices. This inspired me on my week with Jane.

Let’s move on to part II, the part I didn’t care for:

Jane and Fred

I hated this part of the story or how the writer could think their storyline as as “romantic” .

I mean this author has all the fantastic men Austen wrote about and could have used any of them as her foundation, but didn’t. This Fred is horrible, but yet is supposed to have inspired Jane Austen’s novels?

Really?

So first is drunk and sits on Jane in the guest room. Then Fred walks in on Jane showering, even though he could hear the water and she told him it was occupied. And then when she is upset about it he wants to even the score by getting naked for her; wow a real prince. It’s like he super values her opinion. Yeah, right.

I don’t even know why they fall in love. He helped her get to London, gave her money, and taught her to swim. That’s it? She’s in love? Like why?!!!!

And why does Fred like her? Like Jane is awesome but she also has zero knowledge of how anything works-and he doesn’t find that strange or weird?! He doesn’t even wonder about her background, I would. Is she Amish? Was she in a cult? I mean in Kate and Leopold, Kate thought it was strange he didn’t know anything and later she fell in love with his old-fashioned habits. Like he doesn’t find it weird or strange that she doesn’t know about computers, cellphones, is crazy about sugar, etc?

And he he doesn’t even ask about her, her family, or what she wants to do. He knows zero about her and she knows little about him. He has an accident and gets electrocuted, with Jane and him being “in love”, but why. What do they have in common? What do they even enjoy together? They hardly have spent any time together and he asks her to marry him. Flirting is great but that’s what Jane really thinks she should base a marriage on?  The author who cautioned her niece, the one who showed us in countless examples of marrying for beauty or money can lead to unhappiness. The author who showed us that spending time with a person and getting to know who they really are is the best thing? None of her heroines ever rushed into love but either knew the person they married for a while or grew to know them by spending time with them. There is no real timeline but its like a week or two they spend together.

Fred is trying to write a book and Jane encourages him to write more, even sending off the few pages he has to a publisher. But when he gets writer’s block he blows up at her and blames her for everything-all is her fault. He takes off, out all night punishing Jane and leaving her worried and scared that something happened to him, but when he gets home he doesn’t apologize or care that he worried her but just expects her to sleep with him. Like that is textbook emotional abuse, purposely freaking your partner out and making them get worried so when you return the fight you are having is forgotten. Fred is just a horrible boyfriend.

Me to Fred

Like Jane gets so heartbroken and blames herself after his tirade. She starts believing it is her fault and she should have done nothing, then they would have been fine and happy. She then decides to forget all about what she is upset and then calls herself a slave to him. She decides to resign herself over to the only thing she is going to do with her time, is love him. Where did Jane Austen ever write that? All her women were strong women who wouldn’t roll over to be a lapdog. Like where is this coming from?

I also didn’t like that she slept with Fred. First of all the manner it went down with him throwing a tantrum and blaming his problems on her and staying away all day to punish her. Not cool, dude, not cool. But then that Jane had no problems or qualms or regrets over what happened. As a women from Regency time AND the daughter of a minister I feel like she would have had much more complicated feelings about what happened and the decision she made. Not just shrug it off as no big deal.

Fred is also really controlling and doesn’t want Jane gone for a second as he is “afraid” she will leave him. Also not true love and again abusive. She goes for a walk with Sofia and Fred has a meltdown.

And then when Jane wants to return to her time, the only way she can is by the blood from her true love and what does Fred do? He refuses as he wants to force her to stay with him. What a serious jerk! Like this Fred is nothing like Fredrick Wentworth.

And to make things even worse, Fredrick had never even read any Jane Austen books. He was willing to deprive the world of her works and he’s never even read them. What a selfish jerk!

Seriously!

Yeah Jane and Fred’s romance was not good. Give me Sofia and Dave any day.

Sorry to have such a downer of a Valentine’s post. I know to cheer me up I am going to spend the rest of my day with the wonderful Austen men.

Soooo cute!!!!

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, no matter how you spend it. And don’t forget-candy is on sale!

For more Northanger Abbey, go to Northanger Abbey Audiobook Narrated by Anna Massey

For more Persuasion, go to You Ever Notice That The Gossip Girl TV Show is a Lot Like Persuasion?

For more Northanger Abbey adaptions, go to Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more Persuasion adaptions, go to Holiday Mix Tape

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Emma Manga

For more Valentine’s Day, go to You Are My Fantasy: Austenland (2013)

Northanger Abbey Audiobook Narrated by Anna Massey

So I love Northanger Abbey SO MUCH!

Please note that this is being said sarcastically.

So when I saw this audiobook on Overdrive I was excited to give it a listen.

But that joy did not continue with this production.

So I really enjoyed her narration and I liked how she did Mrs. Allen’s voice. It was really well done and had me view her in another way. Take this passage for instance:

“…they[Mrs. Thorpe and Mrs. Allen] proceeded to make inquiries and give intelligence as to their families, sisters, and cousins, talking both together, far more ready to give than to receive information, and each hearing very little of what the other said. Mrs. Thorpe, however, had one great advantage as a talker, over Mrs. Allen, in a family of children; and when she expatiated on the talents of her sons, and the beauty of her daughters, when she related their different situations and views—that John was at Oxford, Edward at Merchant Taylors’, and William at sea—and all of them more beloved and respected in their different station than any other three beings ever were, Mrs. Allen had no similar information to give, no similar triumphs to press on the unwilling and unbelieving ear of her friend, and was forced to sit and appear to listen to all these maternal effusions, consoling herself, however, with the discovery, which her keen eye soon made, that the lace on Mrs. Thorpe’s pelisse was not half so handsome as that on her own.”

I never really thought about this other than Mrs. Allen was a bit vain and both ladies were not really friends, but just trying to one up each other…but hearing the audiobook got me thinking. What if Mrs. Allen’s obsession with clothes isn’t really because she is a vain, silly, or just obsessed with fashion…what if it is to fill something that is missing in her life?

Hmm…?

Having children was very important in the Regency Era, maybe her attention to fashion was what she always had, but became more obsessed with after she never had children. I mean Mrs. Allen’s only consolation to Mrs. Thorpe bragging about her children is she is dressed better than her.

Or my gowns.

However, I didn’t care for her doing Catherine’s voice as she didn’t really make it sound different, but did for Isabella. I mean she tried to show distinction with everyone’s voice but Catherine didn’t sound youthful. All that I could have handled it was the men though, the men were really hard to listen to.

I prefer in audiobooks narrated by women when they don’t try to make “men’s voices” but just read it normally as a lot of times it just sounds silly. I didn’t like Mr. Tilney’s voice, but I really didn’t care for Mr. Thorpe’s voice, I mean I wouldn’t anyway, but it was just so silly and grating. It made it really hard to listen to.

 

It wasn’t horrible, but definitely wasn’t that enjoyable to me. I didn’t really care for it.

Are there any audio adaptions you really care for? Any narrators you recommend?

For more Northanger Abbey, go to Is Emma Jane Austen’s Only Mystery?

For more audiobooks, go to YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

For more Northanger Abbey adaptions, go to Are You Prepared to Encounter All of Its Horrors?…Let’s Just Say That All Houses Have Their Secrets, and Northanger is No Exception.: Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Achy Breaky Heart: Austentatious (2015)

In other news, February usually means it is time for Romance is in the Air: 14 Romantic Moments from Film & TV.

However, I will not be doing it this year.

I just wasn’t inspired this year. I only had 4/14 romantic moments so instead of trying to rush it and try to scrounge up 10 more,  I just decided to not do it this year. I just save it for next year.

If you are looking for something romantic, check out some of the previous years.

I Only Want To Be With You: Romance is in the Air (2013)

Keep On Loving You: Romance is in the Air, Part II (2014)

What I Like About You: Romance is in the Air, Part III (2015)

Good Lovin’: Romance is in the Air Part IV (2016)

How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You: Romance is in the Air, Part V (2017)

The Power of Love: Romance is in the Air, Part VI (2018)

13 Films to Watch on Valentine’s Day If You Are in An Anti-Romance Mood (2019)

I Won the Read the Write Act & Six0Six Design Giveaway + Can’t Fight This Feeling: Romance is in the Air, Part VII (2020)

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Secrets of the Heart

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading List? The idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured books, (and I still do), that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would be reading or interested in reading.

It started with one review, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

Secrets of the Heart (The Ravensmoore Chronicles #1) by Jillian Kent

This book is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers.

Madeline Whittington is the daughter of the deceased Earl of Richfield. She has been deeply depressed and heartbroken since her father’s passing, along with her siblings’ passing, and has just ended a year-long period of mourning. Her best friend, Hallie, Lady Gilling, a widow, is trying to get her out and about but Madeline is still suffering.

Life is grey…

Devlin Greyson, is also suffering, but not deaths but from people bullying him and not wanting to befriend him because of his new title, Earl of Ravensmore. As the second son, Devlin had never planned to be the Earl, but instead wanted to pursue his dream of being a doctor. After his brother passed, he received the title, and to the chagrin of the ton he has decided to forgo what is expected and continue his doctoral studies.

Madeline is feeling lost and spends her days meandering the property by walking or on horseback. She is deeply troubled when she discovers a a mute girl on her property that looks as if she has been suffering from terrible things, she decides to help her-hiding and feeding “Brown Eyes”. This gives her something new to devote her attention to as home is not so pleasant with her mother’s new beau, Lord Vale. Lord Vale claims to be her late father’s friend, but Madeline doesn’t know him or trust him and she has a bad feeling about him. He is just too slimy and creepy.

Madeline continues in this despondent way, not going to any parties or events as she doesn’t want to be involved with what the ton likes. The grief she encountered from the loss of her family coupled with seeing the heartbreak her mother faced, she never wants to be married, but then what is left for her? What should she do with her life?

Hallie doesn’t mind her friend wanting to do something else, but is worried over her despondency and hoping to spark some light in her, she has invites her to join the latest hunt. Although Madeline is not into hunting, she agrees to go as she enjoys horseback riding. During the hunt Madeline gets injured and Devlin is introduced and looks in on her as she has injured her arm, but Madeline is not having it. She wants zero to do with Devlin as he killed her father.

Relax, Devlin is not a murderer, but he was the physician-in-training who was unable to help as her father arrived too far gone.  Devlin instantly falls for Madeleine, but is unable to start any relationship with her as she hates the very sight of him. She’d rather be concussed and lying on a field with a broken arm than receive any help from him. In fact she only gets treatment because of the insistence of her friends.

Wow!

So this wouldn’t be a gothic novel if it didn’t have a creepy building and the creepy building in this one is Ashcroft Asylum. The Asylum is located behind Madeline’s home and guess which creepy dude is in on board and in charge of a lot of asylum decisions? Lord Vale.

One day when Lord Vale is visiting the Countess, Madeline’s mother, he talks about a missing mute murderess, a child. Madeleine figures out it is “Brown Eyes”, but doesn’t believe him as the girl is so nice. Madeleine does all she can, but unfortunately the little girl is discovered and sent back to the creepy Asylum.

Creepy…

Ashcroft Asylum continues its creepy grasp as it holds dread for Devlin as well. His mother went insane and his father sent her away to the asylum where she passed away. Devlin does all he can to stay far away from it, and the fear of mental illness has a strong grip on him.

One day he can no longer avoid it as his school gets a call that the asylum is in need of medical assistance and his instructor volunteers Devlin. When Devlin looks at the wounded inmates, he feels very suspicious of the “self-inflected” wounds, they have but without any concrete proof nothing can be done. Fearing that there is something not right going on in the facility, he decides to tell his instructor and have him check up on it.

Hmm…

Hallie and Madeline run into Devlin and his fellow trainee Melton repeatedly, with Hallie and Melton being very interested in each other, but Madeline doing all she can to get rid of Devlin. Devlin honors her requests as a suitor, but as a doctor he feels he must check up on her health after the horseback riding incident, and then a later carriage accident. On one such visit to see that her arm is healing properly, the two go horseback riding (Madeline’s insistence) and when they return they discover Madeleine’s mother is gone!

She has eloped with Lord Vale to Gretna Greene.

They run after them, but are too late. They have been married and Madeline has a wicked stepfather. Madeline becomes so angry at it all, that when Devlin goes to check on her mental and physical state he discovers she has a gun, one she had wanted to use to keep Vale from marrying her mother. Devlin comforts her and helps her return home, but his visits stop as he will be busy with the upcoming tests to complete his training, leaving her alone in her thoughts.

Vale and her mother return and Vale slimily slips into every part of their lives, taking over. He even volunteers Madeline to help at the asylum, teaching two young boys who are awaiting transport. In doing so Madeline starts to see what really goes on in the asylum: uncleanliness, lack of food being given to the inmates, etc. Vale “listens” and agrees to consider her requests of going through the head of the Asylum’s practices and having  doctor check the inmates, but his compliance seems very out of character and as benefactor, does he really not know what is going on?

Hmm…

Madeleine finds herself attracted to Devlin, and turning to her with her problems, but she still doesn’t want to be with him if he is a doctor. She insists Devlin tell her what happened with her father, and when he reveals the truth, he wasn’t too far gone it turned out that her father didn’t like how tight the tourniquet was and when the doctors were busy with other patients, he loosened it and bleed to death.

From The Wolf Man (1941)

Madeleine is furious at this statement and refuses to believe him. She tells Devlin she never wants to see him again and refuses letters, calls,  etc. all contact from him.

Of him

Madeline continues to fall into depression and melancholia.

Life is grey…from Anna Karenina (1948)

Then Madeleine’s mother grows very sick wasting away. Madeleine immediately grows suspicious of Vale and tries to get her away and send for Devlin. When Vale uncovers this, he sends her packing to the asylum.

In the asylum she encounters the horrors of the asylum:

The Wolfman (2010)

She also finds out the deep secrets that lie in the asylum and has to fall victim to the horrors of the asylum, Will she get out, or be stuck in the dreaded place forever?

Hmm…

Will her mother be saved, or will she die by the plotting of the dastardly Vale?

Hmmm…

And what terrible secrets does the asylum hold?

Hmm…

So this was a really interesting book as it talked a lot about grief and depression, and showed realistic reactions to it. I used to work with grieving people and we see parents and children hating doctors after their loved ones died, depression, isolation, wanting to not be involved romantically because of fear, pushing away from new people, starting a new relationship (the mother), etc. It’s actually nice to read about her being lost and confused but trying to journey through.

The conditions of the asylum were truly terrifying. And the way that people could so easily be thrown in one, made me think of The Woman in White. (An amazing book, you should definitely check out!).

This is of course a romance, so the end was a bit quickly resolved in a happy way but I still enjoyed it. I thought it was cute and mysterious.

This is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers as the character of Madeliene reminds me of Marianne Dashwood. Like Madeleine, Marianne has just encountered the death of her father and her whole world changed. With the estate entailed she and her sister lose their house, some of the furnishings, friendships, position in society, and have to move to a place rented to them out of the kindness of their hearts. Like Madeleine she is a whirlwind of passion and emotion, and also like Madeliene rejects a suitor adamantly. Madeline rejects Devlin believing him to have killed her father ad hating all doctors in general, while Marianne thinks Colonel Brandon is too old and not passionate-yet they both end up with those guys who patiently love them from afar.

As I said a good book to read.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Cat Burglar Black

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Homespun Bride

For more Gothic Fiction, go to The Poison Diaries

For more stories with asylums, go to Trapped in a Mansion in the Middle of Nowhere with a Psycho: The Cat and the Canary (1939)

Is Emma Jane Austen’s Only Mystery?

Mystery, you say?

So a few years ago I read an article about how this one expert believed Jane Austen wrote a mystery, (I unfortunately can’t find it but there are other articles out there if you are interested) and she believed that mystery was Emma.

What??

At first I was what? Emma?

If anything it has to be Northanger Abbey-the mystery of the Tilneys, did the General kill his wife, what was in the forbidden rooms?

The reasoning was that a large majority of the novel is spent trying to uncover who Jane Fairfax’s secret admirer is. I never really thought of it as a mystery as Emma didn’t seem to me that interested in Jane, at least not until Frank stokes her interest with the thought that the man, Mr. Dixon, who married might really be in love with Jane and sending the expensive gifts. In fact, it seemed more like gossip than solving a mystery.

Let’s spill the tea.

It also seemed to me that she wasn’t really interested in getting to know the truth, but seemed more like she wanted to know a dirty secret about someone she doesn’t like-you know to lord it over here. You know, when you don’t like someone and then you find out a reason to really not like them. 

So I was like nah, I don’t think it is a mystery. 

But then I read A Visit to Highbury by Joan Austen-Leigh and that changed my perspective. The story is about Mrs. Goddard and her relationship with her sister who made a hasty marriage. The whole novel is told in letters as Mrs. Goddard sends news of Highbury to her sister. Soon the three of them are embroiled in several mysteries: Why is Mr. Elton so angry at Emma Woodhouse and Harriet Smith? Why does Harriet refuse Mr. Robert Martin when it was clear she was crazy about him? Who gives Jane Fairfax the piano? Why do Harriet and Emma suddenly stop being friends? Who does Mr. Knightley wish to marry?

Hmmm…

Okay, so I had to admit, it seems that Emma is a mystery. 

It,

So I was wrong, but while i will concede that Emma is a mystery, is it the only one?

Hmm…

Is Northanger Abbey a mystery as well? I mean we all know it is a gothic novel, but is it a mystery too?

Time to get on the case!

So the definition of mystery is:

Mystery (pronounced mis-tuh-ree, ) is a genre of literature whose stories focus on a puzzling crime, situation, or circumstance that needs to be solved.

In Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland is a reverend’s daughter who loves to read gothic novels and has an overactive imagination, is asked to join family friends on a trip to Bath. There she gets involved with a gothic novellike plot and journeys to Northanger Abbey. 

The first mystery are the Tilneys. Catherine meets Mr. Tilney and falls for him, let’s be honest who wouldn’t? After that she tries to glean more information about them, but can find very little from the people she knows. Are the Tilneys the amazing people she believes them to be?

Or could they not be good acquaintances? They are the first friends Catherine makes that aren’t known to her friends and family so she doesn’t know if anything they tell her is true or not. This makes me think of Agatha Christie as a big theme used in a lot of her mystery novels is that we meet people and assume all they tell us the truth when they tell us about them, but we honestly don’t really know if anything they say is real or a lie. 

Hmm…

Mr. Tilney jokes about the Abbey being haunted or holding secrets, but Catherine (and my mind) go there as well. Is there a dark cloud hanging over the home? Is there a dark secret?

Hmm…?

Then there is the mysterious chest in her room and the manuscript she finds. What secrets do they hold?

And of course the big one: the mystery of Mrs. Tilney’s death. She dies so quickly, did she die naturally or was she murdered?

Hmm…

And of course what is in Mrs. Tilney’s old rooms? Why are the shut up and forbidden? What secrets do they hold?

I think for me I always felt like this was a mystery because Catherine is actively investigating and searching out the truth, searching for a mystery-while Emma doesn’t seem as invested or investigative as she has other plans on her mind-matchmaking and party planning.

What do you think? Is Emma Jane Austen’s only mystery? Is Northanger Abbey a mystery as well?

Mystery, you say?

For more Emma, go to Interference: Friday Night Lights Meets Emma

For more Northanger Abbey, go to Are You Prepared to Encounter All of Its Horrors?…Let’s Just Say That All Houses Have Their Secrets, and Northanger is No Exception.: Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more on Emma Woodhouse, go to Take a Chance on Me: Austentatious (2015)

For more on Catherine Morland, go to Let That Catherine Morland Flag Fly Free

For more mysteries, go to The Conclusion to the Griggs Mystery…Or Is It?

Are You Prepared to Encounter All of Its Horrors?…Let’s Just Say That All Houses Have Their Secrets, and Northanger is No Exception.: Northanger Abbey (2007)

It’s Time for Our Jane Austen Pick!

It’s exactly as I imagined. It’s just like what we read about.

Are you prepared to encounter all of its horrors?

 Horrors? Is Northanger haunted, then?

That’s just the least of it. Dungeons, and sliding panels; skeletons; strange, unearthly cries in the night that pierce your very soul!

Any vampires? Don’t say vampires. I could bear anything, but not vampires.

Miss Morland, I believe you are teasing me now. I have to say, there is a kind of vampirism. No, let’s just say that all houses have their secrets, and Northanger is no exception.

So every year I have been trying to find a way to include Jane Austen in my Horrorfest posts. I lucked out with Death Comes to Pemberley as that gave me two years, (I posted in between as three years seemed a really long break.) Then last year I did the Midsomer Murders episode “Death by Persuasion“. This year I was like, ugh I guess I have to watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (I didn’t care for the book so I’m not enthused about watching the film.)

Oh, if only Jane Austen had written a Halloween-y book.

Then it hit me, how could I be so blind- she did!

So I decided that this year would be the year I review Northanger Abbey (2007). I’ve wanted to review this movie for a while, but haven’t as when I do then I can’t review it again. Does anyone else ever feel that way?

I’m happy to include it as I know of Catherine was around today, she’ be all over Halloween,

So in my post on The Blob, I mentioned that back in January when my book club read Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon, I thought what better way to end Horrorfest IX than to end with The Blob. I thought it would be cute to have it a few months apart from the book review.  Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the review. I was still planning to end with it, but then I got an idea.

I was switching some posts around and was going to move Northanger Abbey to a different day when I decided why not end with Northanger Abbey? And if I’m celebrating? Why not encourage everyone to as well!

So I’m going to watch the 2007 adaption, but there are others to watch if that doesn’t interest you:

Or you can read the book or other adaptions:

And don’t forget to #CelebrateHalloweenwithNorthangerAbbey so I can see what you do!

So Northanger Abbey is probably my favorite Jane Austen book as I just love Catherine, she’s so me.

And I LOOOOOOOVE this adaption. I felt that everyone who did this production really understood the heart of the novel and brought it to life perfectly! There are a few changes/additions, of course there always will be, but I felt these added to this film. And JJ Feild and Felicity Jones were beyond perfect!

But enough gushing, let’s get on to the review!

So I love the way we start off with this gothic creepy spooky music over the actors and title. I could just listen to this it over and over again.

We start the film off perfectly, the first lines of the text narrating and we get a great view of Catherine’s life. A family of 10, her father a reverend, she loves to play cricket and baseball (how can you not like a heroine like that?) Although, at 15 she settles down and changes her hobbies to reading. I like how we see her playing with her siblings and sports, but then off to hide away and read.

I am soooo jealous I wish I could go off in the beautiful English countryside and hide to read.

When Catherine reads she imagines herself in the stories and I love it. It is just like how I imagined her to be when I read the novel. I love how the characters in her imagination are played by the same actors in the film, but we don’t see their faces until she meet them in the story.

The Allens have arrived and want Catherine to come with them on their trip to Bath. This was the first book Jane Austen wrote, although not published, and it makes sense that she used Bath as she stayed with her aunt in Bath when she was young.

As they are traveling Catherine is reading and I love how she imagines herself in the story and then attacked by highwaymen. I LOOOOOOOVE, LOVE this movie! So much!

I mean it is so relatable, don’t tell me know of you bookstgrammers and book lovers haven’t done that because I am sure you have!

I like how when Catherine first comes to Bath it is beautiful but then right away we see an ugly underbelly as two jerks call her a “tasty piece”. Ugh, some things ever change-but also alludes that a pretty facade can hold ugliness, makes me think of the people she is to meet but also has me think of Twin Peaks or Blue Velvet. 

And their names are Thorpe and General Tilney

Felicity Jones as Catherine is cute and adorable which is exactly how I imagined her to be in the book.

Mr. and Mrs Allen are so sweet:

Mrs. Allen: Have you ever seen anything prettier Mr. Allen?

Mr. Allen: You mean besides yourself.

I love how they have Catherine from a small parsonage thrown into this crowded room full off gross men, snooty men, and crowds, crowds, crowds.

Mr. Allen ditches the ladies right away, for the men’s room I believe.

See ya!

Then JJ Feild as Mr. Tilney enters, and he is utter perfection.

I’m all about that Henry!

I love their whole interaction together, JJ Feild is just perfect-a joker, sarcastic, but at the same time fun. I love when he says Catherine’s line about how her gown will fray, and such a white knight getting rid of the wolves and getting them a table, then procuring an introduction.

But I love how when he is following protocol he looks like he will spurt out laughing at any moment. The teasing-it’s too perfect.

I love the jokey sillyness of them talking, such a contrast to the “we have to talk when dancing” scene you see in Pride and Prejudice. JJ Feild says the lines perfectly-so theatrically “astonishing” that it fits his character perfectly. I just love it!

Ugh, but then the horrid-John Thorpe (William Beck) skulking in his bulldogg-ish way. He spots Catherine and eyes her like a piece of meat.

I love this scene.

Catherine: [Puzzled] Why does he look at us?

Mr. Tilney: I imagine he likes what he sees.

Catherine: [Incredulous] You don’t mean me?

So I love this scene because for a girl who was sporty and never considered pretty as a youth it is so difficult to believe when someone says you are pretty. I also think this is another reason why Catherine is a favorite as she has gone through body image issues like most teen girls. Not to say that Elizabeth doesn’t suffer some, constantly being compared to the “beauty” of her elder sister, but with Catherine she is in a different situation and younger, plus she isn’t as powerful a wordsmith as Elizabeth or able to laugh off her hurt in front of others. I think she and this scene resonate really well. Her being baffled at the thought that she could have the interest of two men, let alone have a man to watch her from across the room because he thinks she is pretty just puzzles her. I also like that Mr. Tilney uses pretty to describe her multiple times. On one hand pretty is more jestful, he just met her he doesn’t want anyone thinking he’s proposing, but at the same time him saying it is more of something for Catherine to cling to. Someone who has never been called beautiful, but cute or nice-being called beautiful they would never believe it. But being called pretty after being considered “almost pretty” is more something they can can accept.

When Mr. Tilney teases her about writing a journal and Catherine sasses back it is beyond adorable. I love it except how could he ever think Thorpe more handsome than him.

And then that night we see she is writing in a journal. I love it!

Catherine again reads but this time in her mind she sees the people as Thorpe and Tilney-the handsome hero of course being Tilney

The next day they are out and another horror-Mrs. Thorpe and Isabella, Mrs. Thorpe being an old friend of Mrs. Allen. They hone in on them, wanting to join their party, Catherine and Isabella immediately going out together, You know I always felt like the interaction between Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe was weird, the way Mrs. Thorpe “just happened” upon them, but this time watching it I can see how contrived it is. The Thorpe’s must have been planning the harpooning the Morland’s for quite some time. Something in their manner must have made them think they were a great catch. Thorpe sees Catherine at the dance (knows what she looks like and probably heard from James she would be there, not to mention the book where people signed in) and the next day the other Thorpe’s were on the hunt. I’m not sure if the plan was always for them to snag both siblings but from what I see of Isabella she’s been working on James for some time, the “beloved friendship” of his sister helping capture him even more.

You know I never noticed it before there are a lot of creepy dudes in Bath.

SUPER creeped

When they go out, Catherine looks for Mr. Tilney’s name and Isabella says that there is something strange about the family. Not going to lie, that would probably intrigue me more. Oh, do tell.

Hmm…spill please.

They are followed out of the place by two men-creepy, but Isabella seems in to it. Weird.

Strange girl.

Catherine is afraid, but Isabella laughs it off. She is trouble.

Do not be friends with her!

They come upon John Thorpe and James Morland (Hugh O’Coner) as they have come to Bath as well.

Poor James

James: [To Isabella] When I heard you were here nothing could keep me away.

John is the opposite of Henry-John is brash, bulldoggish, curses-although he was introuduced the proper “way”. I’d rather do things the Tilney way.

John doesn’t read novels as he thinks them silly and for women (ugh) We don’t like him. We don’t like boys who don’t read.

Ugh…this guy

At the dance, Catherine sees Mr. Tilney with a beautiful woman and her whole face falls. Then she hears it is his sister and her face lights up like a Christmas tree. I love it!

Eleanor and Catherine are so cute I ship their friendship-Catherine needs a wiser woman to help her not horrible Isabella.

They see General Tilney (Liam Cunningham) across the room and Eleanor’s cryptic message about her father sets him up as a perfect villain. Henry look is grim after talking to him, Eleanor calls it “his way”, he does look positively scary. He just casts a shadow over everyone.

Catherine and Eleanor get on smashing, both like to read and walk-while Isabella likes being in town, in a party, with men hanging off her every word. Don’t go with Isabella-stay with Eleanor and Mr. Tilney.

This next scene is perfection with showing the story and the characters so let’s break it down.

The next day Catherine is preparing for the date she planned with Mr Tilney walk she planned with the Tilneys when Isabella, Thorpe, and her brother James all come in convincing her that the Tilneys are out of town and she should come with him-John stats this  with “I think I saw them leaving”, Isabella backing him up, then he says he knows, then he insists that in this brief passage in the street from far away that he heard them saying they will be gone. Of course when I say it like this you can obviously tell it is a lie, but when he and Isabella work in tandem it is incredibly well done. Catherine bring up a point, one sibling parries it while the other puts in a stab that gets to her. Isabella “my dear one, in this false world, people often make promises they have little intention of keeping. Remember, we are your *true* friends”, when they are in fact doing the very things they are warning her against. This is a perfect representation of the Thorpes who will lie, scheme, and do anything to get what they want and how they manage this so perfectly off the cuff. Immediately, you can tell they have done similar schemes before bur above all that we get a great sense of their character as they see no wrong in it, experience no guilt, Isabella dosen’t even blink an eye when she is the very person she warns Catherine about.

And then we have brother James. True he’s no brother John (Sense and Sensibility) but he is not a good brother. He so badly wants this alone time with Isabella and is so consumed by his “love” for her that he doesn’t even see the inconsistencies in the Thorpe’s speeches. Instead he insults his sister, being her brother he knows where to get at her. The Thorpe’s pulled down Catherine’s defenses, but the betrayal of her brother-his stab is the thing that really gets her to join in with them. Harsh. And the use of “scatterbrained sister”, for some reason that really gets her moving, the need to show him she’s not that. It’s not hard to imasgine that maybe that insult was used a lot growing up. It is such a quick scene but a really good one that let’s is know each character’s motivation.

Speaking of James, does any Austen heroine have a good brother besides Fanny Price? I mean Elinor and Marianne have John, who is ugh, the Bennets have no brothers, Emma doesn’t have a brother and hasugh John Knightley as a brother-in-law, and in Persuasion no brothers. The only good brother out of the three is William Price, Fanny’s brother. I mean James isn’t as horrible as John, but not as good as William. Jane Austen had six brothers, I wonder if each brother and brother-in-law where based off of them? Anyways, that’s for another day-back to the renew.

From Clueless

We see more of how rude Thorpe is when Mr. Allen is crossing the street and Thorpe almost hits him. He interrogates Catherine about Mr. Allen saying they are rich with no children and she’s the favorite. She doesn’t really answer, so he takes that as a yes.

Then she sees Mr. and Miss Tilney. Now Thorpe here is awful. Catherine wants out and he purposefully speeds up so that she can’t. He flat out tells her that he doesn’t care that he lied and then goes on to manipulate and convince her that she is “needed” to chaperone so her brother and Isabella can be together, uh..why can’t you do that if you “care” about your sister sooo much.

He then goes on to explain that he was not lying or manipulating to her (my words) with any evil intent he is just “protecting” her against the Tilneys. John insists there is something strange about the mother’s death-and then continues to lecture her about being more careful about making new acquaintances they are not as honest as you and I.

You just lied and admitted you lied…like do you not hear yourself?

This is another reason why I love Jane Austen-remove the carriages, regency clothes, and language and you could set this scene in any time period. Her work is beyond relatable. Who has not met someone like this in their life, espechially when you are young, friend or romantic partner people like this abound. I wish Catherine just stormed out of the carriage and away from him, but of course she’s young, she does want to help her brother, and she doesn’t want to disappointed. This whole manipulation is abuse and that is another reason why Thorpe is a horror. Run Catherine! Run from him!

So Catherine goes with them…

And it rains and they get blocked with sheep. Good! May Thorpe always be sheep-blocked.

Sucks to be you

Then we have Catherine and Isabella in their underwear waiting for clothes to dry-I think this exchange is odd as why not wear robes-aren’t they cold after being in the rain? But it is part of the “sexy” Austen they have since added in.

Isabella encourages Catherine and John, although Catherine is not that interested besides someone being pleased at someone finding her cute. Isabella encourages her to red the very “naughty” book The Monk as it is John’s favorite. It doesn’t surprise me that the only thing John wold deign to read is a “naughty” book.

The worst!

So feel like after Catherine reads a part of The Monk, she has a fantasy where she is in a bathtub, but that isn’t i my copy. Did I just imagine that?

The next night they go to the opera, the Thorpe’s joining them and John Thorpe “compliments” Catherine, ugh.

Why are you with him?!

Catherine see the Tilmeys and runs over to apologize, I love how she speaks to Mr. Tilney when apologizing not Eleanor Mmmhmmm.

How sweet!

She also tells Mr. Tilney she would have run out of the carriage and back to him (using you not the two of you.) Felicity Jones is so cute as Catherine, I just love it!

Soooo cute!!!!

I also love how hurt Mr. Tilney is and trying to pretend that all is fine, when you can easily tell it is’t and the look Eleanor gives him is priceless. She knows her brother was hurting.

I see people talking about Georgiana having to put up with a heartbroken Mr. Darcy, but what about Miss Tilney? She probably had to spend the whole walk hearing about how hurt Henry was and how Catherine was just whisked away from him and all in the rain!

Mr Tilney: I felt a little slighted.

Mmmhmm a little?!!

I love how Eleanor states you were quite cast down when you heard that Miss Morland preferred the company of others. Good job Eleaor, good sister-prodding your brother.

They renew the invitation and we see John Thorpe talking to General Tilney about how rich the Allens are, oh no. General Tilney then engages an introduction and he invites Catherine to spend the day with them. Catherine is so sweet but the Tilneys siblings exchange a look, oh no-Dad’s getting involved this won’t be good.

That’s not good.

They go walking and Catherine is cute she’s never traveled but has seen pictures and read books.

Catherine assumes that Tilney wouldn’t read books, but he shares that he loves novels and that there can be more life in it then in some sermons- cough cough Mr. Collins. Aw, he likes to read!

Guys who don’t are not.

By the way, Mr. Tilney’s green coat and cream breeches are the same that Mr. Darcy wears although I don’t love the cuffs. Speaking of costumes, fantastic choices. I love everything they have except the cuffs.

I noticed that Eleanor just happened to need to fix her skirt “it caught on something” allowing Henry and Catherine go on ahead. Mmmhmmm.

I like this exchange between Catherine and Mr. Tilney about the themes in books being ones you see in life. So true. Catherine doesn’t think so and we have this moment when we get a glimpse between the teasing, sarcastic nature we love to something vulnerable Mr. Tilney comes from a wealthy estate so he hasn’t had a harsh life materially-but we see that their has been pain and darkness. Catherine comes from a loving home so she doesn’t see the world the same way. I like this as often the people who laugh the loudest and are so flippant have some emotional scars we can’t see. It also rounds Mr. Tilney out, it would have been easy to write him as just  two-dimensional character.

The walk is interrupted by a man hurriedly riding a horse and Mr. Tilney explains that it is a secret, Eleanor is in loves with him, but their father doesn’t approve. He is leaving to make his fortune and wanted a final good-bye.

Aw!

The next day Catherine is reading when Isabella interrupts her as James’ has proposed. “You know my nature I can never trifle with a man’s affections.” MMhmm…

Catherine is pleased although in strage twist she’s the voice of reason thinking this is all rather fast. But James and Isabella laugh off  as they have been “in love” since last Christmas. Poor James is a blind fool in love.

James leaves to speak to their parents and John is going too. He then delivers one of the worst proposals

John: Perhaps I might look for one [a ring] for myself, do you think I should? [Catherine surprised says nothing] Frightfully good this marrying scheme, what do you think?

Catherine: I think it is good.

It’s not even a real proposal. They leave and Isabella is blue. She thinks that Catherine’s parents will not be interested as she has no money while Catherine is like thinking in her head we don’t have that much money, I guess.

Huhhhhhhh

That night they go out and Isabella goes on and on about how sad and heartbroken she is not to have her “love”. They see General Tilney, Mr. Tilney, and Miss Tilney. General Tilney leaves taking Catherines hand and placing it on his son’s and then vanishes. Oh my gosh, General Tilney has zero subtlety he makes it clear to everyone in a 400 mile radius that you want the two to get together. It makes me laugh, but it is so indicative of General Tilney’s style. He is General, he commands and all must follow his orders.

We also have another horror enter the scene, I believe this is number 4, Captain Tilney-the eldest Tilney.

He’s such a snob blowing Catherine off (although thank goodness)

Mr. Tilney: He’s always been iIl mannered. He was even ill mannered as a baby.

Catherine: [Teasingly] How do you know he was ill mannered as a baby, you weren’t even born yet.

I love Tilney and Catherine’s interactions:

Mr. Tilney: My rival having left bath.

Catherine: He’s not your ri- [breaks off]

Ugh Captin Tilney is so ill mannered. He wants to dance with Isabella, and Catherine tells him Isabella isn’t dancing with anyone tonight, shouldn’t have said that as it just raised the challenge he’s going to ask Isabella. Or did he? Could she have approached him? Hmm….

Hmm…

Catherine sees Isabella dancing and then later Isabella explains it away, hmm… She gushes about him, but reassures Catherine, she loves James.

Really Isabella?

That night Captain Tilney is the bad guy in the fantasy and he looks so devilishly evil. Perfect.

The next day Ctherine comes over to hear how James’ trip went, and Isabella is not immediately happy. James will recive 400 pounds in two years, so they will have to wait. She’s really hurt, and Catherine defends her father. Isabella thinks Mr. Allen might give money, but Catherine is extremely surprised. They have no expectations from him. Isabella realizes she’s losing the crowd and changes her tone to insisting that she doesn’t care about money but the wait to marry. Sure

The next day Catherine learns that the Tilneys will be leaving, but is invited to Northanger Abbey. Omg I wish I could go. I would say Yes! but Catherine does the right thing and asks the Allens, the Nothanger spooky music playing!

Creepy…

Their last time together Isabella drops that John thinks Catherine and him are engaged. You know I just realized if your name is John in an Austen novel you are a jerk. Catherine defends herself and shares she never did any such thing. Isabella is upset but all is forgotten when she sees Captain Tilney. Captin Tilney lays the flirt on thick…eyes give us torment, etc. Catherine is upset at the exchange and tries to get her and Isabella out of there, but Isabella refuses to go and instead is off with Captain Tilney, oh no.

That’s not good.

The Tilneys arrive to pick up Catherine and you know we talk a lot about Ms. Bennet, Mrs. Jennings, and the other women who are always trying to plan and scheme marriages for our heroines, but it seems like everyone forgets General Tilney practically throwing his child at Catherine.

Marry my son in this case.

Poor Eleanor. She looks so abused right here, she probably is with an emotional vampire like her father. Even Mr. Tilney stands at attention and ready to do the orders of his father. It is interesting as when both are apart from their dad they are completely different, but when father is around they are quiet, quick to respond, and follow his commands like good little soldiers. I never noticed just how like “at attention” they are around him Its very good as that will be important later ****foreshadowing****.

Hmm…

The general offers his son like the fattened calf and Catherine of course is eager to sit with Mr. Tilney.

They ride and Catherine asks about Captain Tilney, worried about Isabella. Mr. Tilney instantly responds with were you wanting his company and I love how fast Catherine tells him no. I can just imagine in her head HECK, NO! She shares her concerns for Isabella, Catherine is such a good friend.

My problem with Isabella is not the part of her liking men’s attention or whatever. I just hate people who play around with other’s feelings, liars, and those that do whatever they want never thinking of the hurt and pain they cause in others. Isabella is a completely toxic friend that everyone should immediately avoid.

Seriously!

Mr. Tilney tries to reassure her as he knows his brother isn’t serious, but doesn’t want to say why. He is a gentleman after all.

They come upon Northangr Abbey and its just what I imagined! The music plays so spooky.

One of my favorites exchanges and where the title comes from. I like this as it show the progression of thei relationship and how much fun they have yet twinged with sadness as Northanger Abbey houses a vampire.

But an emotional vampire.

[Riding in the curricle, Henry and Catherine see the first view of Northanger Abbey]

Henry Tilney: There.

Catherine Morland: It’s exactly as I imagined. It’s just like what we read about.

Henry Tilney: Are you prepared to encounter all of its horrors?

Catherine Morland: Horrors? Is Northanger haunted, then?

Henry Tilney: That’s just the least of it. Dungeons, and sliding panels; skeletons; strange, unearthly cries in the night that pierce your very soul!

Catherine Morland: [sardonically] Any vampires? Don’t say vampires. I could bear anything, but not vampires.

Henry Tilney: [laughing] Miss Morland, I believe you are teasing me now.[seriously] I have to say, there is a kind of vampirism. No, let’s just say that all houses have their secrets, and Northanger is no exception.

General Tilney always looks so foreboding even when he’s nice. Like Jack Nicholson.

Eleanor acts completely different in her home like a reversal of Mr. Darcy. All shaken up, nervous, wanting to please-her elegance, coolness, replaced by anxiety and fear.

First thing Catherine does is look in the wardrobe. Same. I would defintely go inside.

She then sits on a trunk and starts looking through it, but is interrupted. Same as well. She then goes to get ready, leaving that trunk for later.

Catherine is the first to walk in and paid all the compliments and I love at what a loss she is. This is too fancy. Eleanor has to help her out.

Hmm…

I like when General Tilney is trying to pay her compliments and she is at a loss, so is General Tilney as he doesn’t understand why the Allens have so much money but less than him. Both of them are utterly confused and the Tilney siblings share a look. Mr. Tilney eats his soup so silly he has to be doing that to set Catherine at ease as she is a bundle of nerves herself.

The night there is lightening and candlelight and everything feels so spoooooky. It’s perfection!

Catherine opens the trunk and finds old papers. Treasure map, notes, secrets? The wind blows the candle out and she can’t see it, instead jumping into the bed. The maid tripping over it the next day. Catherine tells the maid to leave it and as soon as she is out the door picks them up to read.

It is….

A laundry list.

Maybe, maybe its is code? Could be! Probably not.

Darn!

Eleanor and Catherine walk together and Eleanor shares she and her mom used to walk along the same path. Eleanor shares she was away when her mother died of an illness, it was sudden and short. The body was buried before Eleanor got there.

Hmmm…

Strange…

At Northanger Abbey.

Eleanor wants to take Catherine to her mother’s room to see the portrait of her mother as Catherine resembles her. However they can’t as it is forbidden. The Rebecca vibe is strong. Like Northanger Abbey is like the great grandfather of Rebecca.

General Tilney comes upon them and stops them. Darn.

Catherine writes to Isabella mentioning her thoughts that maybe this house holds a dark secret. At dinner General Tilney has to leave and Catherine, Eleanor, and Henry have the house to themselves. As soon as he is gone a shadow lifts and Eleanor returns to the way she was before, so does Mr Tilney.

Party time!

Henry takes Catherine riding to see his parsonage, how adorable. It is so cute and I love his coat.

The two share a moment when he tenderly wipes mud off her checks and they gaze into each other’s eyes. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww my heart melts…

Soooo cute!!!!

Poor Eleanor, they are walking and she is a third wheel, I know it is her choice but still…sad.

Catherine tries to question Henry about what he meant earlier when he said that there was a darkness, but he doesn’t say wanting to keep it a secret, but encourages her to think of the worst things she can and write a novel about it. I have to say Henry I love you, but maybe you should think about some of the things you say.

Catherine shares he is teasing but also that she feels that the house is not a happy one. Henry shares a bit, such as he envious of her childhood. His sister wants to marry Edward the man that met with her secretly, but he is a second son and has to marry the first son of a rich estate, his brother has to as well, and him too. Catherine is worried as she does not have a fortune an asks if he will, marry someone rich. Henry shares that he hoped he wouldn’t have to choose between love or money.

Mr. Tilney has to leave and will return the next day. That night Catherine starts investigating, with the men out she makes a run for Mrs. Tilney’s room

Mystery, you say?

The room is in bad repair and dusty. Is it grief or like Maxim de Winter he does he feel guilty about his role in it?

Sad…trauma from Rebecca.

Mr. Tilney arrives and sees her in the room and I can’t blame him being upset, it is rude Catherine. Although Eleanor saying the picture resembled her I could see me wanting to, although this portrait doesn’t look that much like Catherine. Probably a good thing as as that would bring these crazy theories that Catherine is the reincarnated mother set to enact revenge and have a plot like Chances Are, that was freaky movie. How did it get green-lighted?

Sorry I am just everywhere today. So I really love this exchange between Henry and Catherine when she shares she believes that his father murdered his mother. I like it because you can see Henry is hurt and upset, I mean would be too if the person I liked called my father a murderer-but I like that he’s not screaming, yelling or calling her names. He is calm but he is clearly hurt and upset. I’m glad they went in that direction, him being the opposite of how his father (and brother) would most likely react.

Although in her defense you did tell her to dream up the most horrible thing she could imagine so you can’t really be mad at her for thinking it.  And not going to lie the first time I read this I totally thought General Tilney killed her, and I’m not wholly convinced he didn’t . Like I don’t think he out murdered her but after being in an abusive relationship for that long, I defintely think his behavior really sapped her will for living. And people who are abused have lower immune systems as their health greatly suffers, so he definitely killed her. I wouldn’t win a criminal case, but I bet I could prove it in a civil case, Any lawyers out there want to give me their thoughts?

At the end, I love how Tilney says Catherine how could you-so disappointed, so wounded-he says it softly like a cry of pain and walks way.

And poor Catherine crying thinking she has lost her chance at ever claiming his heart, internally berating herself for being so foolish.

Aw!

Eleanor comes upon her in the garden with a letter and sees her crying. She tries to reassure her, but Catherine is sobbing-this scene is so good. OMG this actors are amazing. I don’t think there could be a better adaption.

And as the adage goes when it rains it pours. James sends a letter that the engagement is over. He is a gentleman and doesn’t say anything else regarding why but believes Captian Tilney and Isabella will be engaged. Eleanor tells her probably not. She’s sorry “that anyone she [Catherine] loves should be so hurt but Captin Tilney will never marry Isabella. He can only marry a wealthy woman ad currently is not interested in marriage. Eleanor is classy but she clearly spells it out that things will not go well for Isabella.

She should not have done that.

And to make it clear for the viewers, the next scene we see that captain Tilney took her to an hourly rate lodgings and had his enjoyment and is tossing her back to her parents. Looking sinister the whole time.

Isabella tried to net a larger fish, but failed. I do feel bad for her, like a thimble’s worth as girl you did wrong. She the writes to Catherine hoping her “dearest friend” will help her get back with James.

Eleanor: I’m not surprised

Eleanor is a good friend and she can lock into a person’s character right quick.  Eleanor just throws more shade.

Catherine I feel sorry for Isabella.

Eleanor: I’m sure shell be fine soon enough.

Classy Eleanor on Isabella

That night is spooky and dark and General Tilney comes storming in screeching for Eleanor. Poor girl.

Catherine is worried for her friend and she shares that her father is forcing Catherine to leave, and that she has to leave now. You know this is incredibly awful as they don’t even have her leave the next day but that night drop her at the public stagecoach alone, dumped on the side of the road like refuse.  And not only that he forces Eleanor to drop this bomb instead of telling her himself.

Poor Catherine doesn’t even feel bad about being treated that way. She thinks she deserves it for what she thought, believing Mr. Tilney told his father.  But this is seriously messed up . General Tilney is the worst as Catherine could be murdered, robbed, raped, kidnapped, injured, etc. She has to wait until a coach comes in the middle of the night in a strange place where she has no friends or protection. General Tilney:

Thankfully a coach comes soon.

Please, oh please! from Death Comes to Pemberley

No daydreaming this time, instead the journey home is spent in reflection. Catherine returns home so sad looking and hurt. She’s lost some of her heart and childlike innocence.

Darn!

They discuss this at her home with the Allens, the Morland’s being extremely upset. Thankfully these parents are on it-not cool and the mom is not impressed by these friends as no one even wrote. Catherine has pretty good parents in comparison to some other Austen heroines. Her mother s ays she is proud she dealt with it all maturly, she’s not so scatterbrained-aw there is it. They must have used that a lot when she was younger.

Mrs. Allen defends Mr. Tilney saying that she liked Tilney as he got them a chair and knew muslin. Oh Mrs. Allen. Knowing Muslin is all you need to impress her.

That night Catherine shares her trip with her siblings and one asks if she loves Mr. Tilney. She says no, of course, but we know that to be a lie. She’s in Love!

Catherine loves Tilney

Then Mr Tilney comes up on a white horse *SQUEAL*

Mr. Tilny tries to tell Catherine what happened-he shares he was upset with what she said but that wasn’t why she was sent away. He shares a little about his father:

Henry Tilney: Your imagination may be overactive, but your instinct was true. Our mother did suffer grievously and at the hands of our father. Do you remember I spoke of a kind of vampirism?

Catherine Morland: Yes.

Henry Tilney: Perhaps it was stupid to express it so, but we did watch him drain the life out of her with his coldness and his cruelty. He married her for her money, you see. She thought it was for love. It was a long time until she knew his heart was cold. No vampires, no blood. But worse crimes, crimes of the heart.

Catherine Morland: It was stupid and wicked of me to think such things as I did.

They are interrupted by her sister and the girl s the best little sister actress ever interrupting them all sassy saying they ned to come to the drawing room.

Then Mr. Tilney apologizes under the gaze of Catherine’s 5 siblings and mother.

Mr. Tilney wants to get Catherine alone so he can talk to her and asks her to show him the way to the Allen’s and mom’s a brick she knows why, she can sense what that “alone time” is going to be used for.

Wedding!

Tilney shares the rest of the story and why she was sent away. I love how Tilney is so angry at his father and doesn’t want Catherine to blame herself. I also like when Catherine asks, what did he say and Tilney refuses instead telling her what he said. I don’t need to know what General Tilney said, I can lready surmise it in my head.

Catherine Morland: He thought I was rich?

Henry Tilney: It was Thorpe who misled him at first. Thorpe, who hoped to marry you himself. He thought you were Mr. Allen’s heiress and he exaggerated Mr. Allen’s birth to my father. You were only guilty of not being as rich as you were supposed to be. For that he turned you out of the house.

Catherine Morland: I thought you were so angry with me, you told him what you knew. Which would have justified any discourtesy.

Henry Tilney: No! The discourtesy was all his. I-I have broken with my father, Catherine, I may never speak to him again.

Catherine Morland: What did he say to you?

Henry Tilney: Let me instead tell you what I said to him. I told him that I felt myself bound to you, by honor, by affection, and by a love so strong that nothing he could do could deter me from…

Catherine Morland: From what?

Henry Tilney: Before I go on, I should tell you there’s a pretty good chance he’ll disinherit me. I fear I may never be a rich man, Catherine.

Catherine Morland: Please, go on with what you were going to say!

Henry Tilney: Will you marry me, Catherine?

Catherine Morland: Yes! Yes I will! Yes!

I love this as earlier whenever Tilney was around his father he was a “good little soldier” and did what he was told. But here we see that he mutinied and went after the girl he loves, even if it means no inheritance.

And they awkwardly fly into each other’s arms and it so cute because it feels so real instead of Hollywood. Aw, I want a Mr. Tilney.

Aw, and all are happy as they marry and have a baby. And Eleanor’s love is rich and they too get to marry! And General Tilney is all alone, as he should be, so it is a happy ending for all!

I just love this movie, it is so perfect. My only complaint: it ends.

Why is it over?

So writing, amazing. The lighting was also really good as sometimes period dramas try to be authentic and are too dark you can’t see what is happening. Acting superb! And costumes? I love everything besides Mr. Tilney’s shirt with the ruffled cuffs. I espechially love this coat, although I couldn’t find a really good pick of it:

It’s beautiful, but also romantic as he rides across the fields, it flowing in the wind. It reminds me a lot of the romantic coat Ross Poldark wears in Poldark. 

I also love Catherine’s blue coat and I really want it. I might have to get my own made.

You know Catherine is not the wealthiest character in the Austen canon, but of all the adaptions I think she has the prettiest clothes. Everything she wears I love, and her hair always looks fantastic.

I like Catherine Morland’s outfits.

So that end another Horrorfest!!! I hope you all enjoyed it!

I hope you all have a fantastic and safe Halloween!

For more Northanger Abbey, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more Northanger Abbey (2007), go to Storybook Ending: Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more Northanger Abbey variations, go to Rational Creatures: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney, & Lady Susan

For more films based on Jane Austen, go to Sense and Sensibility (1995)

For more Jane Austen variations, go to The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair)

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

I was reorganizing the library’s young adult graphic novels and came across this book. It has a gothic and spooky old house, a secret society, a mysteriously hidden treasure, and teens being trained to be a part of a thieving ring.

Of course it sounded right up my alley.

And not just perfect for me, but for someone else…Catherine Morland. Yep, another book for Catherine Morland’s Reading List.

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading List? The idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen, (and I still do), I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala

We start off with Katherine “K” Westree dressed in all black with a mask, running at night from a wild boar.

We then go back three weeks earlier…K is a orphan who was placed in an orphanage run by a woman called Mother Claude, who was using the orphanage to create a ring of cat burglars, thieves, and pickpockets.

She forced the kids to do it, threatening and abusing them if they didn’t. If they tried to run away, she would hunt them down and force them back.

The were eventually found out and all the children sent to reform school. After K served her time she stayed on as a live-in counselor for the younger children. She was then located by her aunt who had been searching for her, and her aunt invited her to live with her at Bellsong Academy, a spooky gothic mansion.

Haunted house!

When she arrives at the Academy things are not as she expected. Apparently the school has lost funding and there are only three students there at this time, orphans who have nowhere else to go: Dory, Morrow and Zel. And it turns out that she can’t see her aunt as she is deathly ill and fully covered in bandages.

Now this made my radar go off. Anytime people are all covered up in bandages like that, it means they aren’t who they really say they are. That’s not her aunt, something must have happened to her.

Hmm…

The people running the academy are  the headmistress Mrs. Turtledove, teacher Dr. Kuvac, teacher Mr. Dell, and teacher Mr. Fahr. There also is a very creepy handyman who goes by Stump and the housekeeper Ms. Mund.

Everything seems off with the other girls and the faculty. And then K hears a voice in the wall warning her that she is being watched. Definitely creepy!

SUPER creeped

That night K sneaks out of her room ad uses all her training to try to get in her Aunt’s room, but is caught by the other girls as they have been watching her. It turns out the school is another thief ring,  but an “old, established” one called The Obtainers. Her mother and father were a part of it, and her aunt as well.

K’s father chose to leave the group when she was little and took K with him, that’s why she was never a part of it until now. The rest of the ring are glad she is here as she is incredibly talented and they need her help. Bellsong Academy originally belonged to the Quinn family. When Anodyne Quinn inherited the house she discovered that her family fortune came from pirating, she was deeply ashamed she had been benefiting from stealing from others. She decided to give back by opening the Bellsong Academy, the first woman’s college west of the Rockies. After she passed she left provisions so that it would continue on. There is a rumor of treasure hidden somewhere on campus and no on has ever found it.

Hmm…treasure?

The other thing she left behind was three paintings-one in her youth, one in middle age, and the third as an older woman posing with the graduation class. Each painting was given to a separate family in the neighboring village, they were given a large sum every year-and all they have to do is put their painting on display. The map to the treasure is rumored to be found within those three paintings.

Rebecca (1940)

K finds this extremely odd that they need her to “borrow” them, and I agree. Like if they are this all important and amazing league of thieves why haven’t they done it already?

I mean for real!

K isn’t interested but they insist they need it to keep the academy going and to pay for her aunt’s care. The other girls try to convince her as they give her the grand tour of the property-old time fountains, a sun dial, a “haunted cabin”, a prehistoric sinkhole, and share the stories of the serial killer, “The Moon Killer”, who was rumored to run around the woods.

Spooky…

K decides to train with them, as why not what else has she to do, and they have a practice room right out of a superhero comic. K outshines them all and that night joins them as they break into the first house.

Each house is eccentric and when they leave they are missing a girl. Did they decide to take off and get their freedom? Were they captured? Is The Moon Killer back? Is there something nefarious going on in those houses?

Hmm…

K manages to score every painting and starts putting the clues together. But finding hidden treasure isn’t the only surprise she will discover.

This was really interesting mystery/gothic tale and I liked the character K and the twist ending at the end. I had figured out half of it, but the other half surprised me.

Wow!

The only thing I don’t like is that we never find out what happened to the other girls. I searched but it doesn’t appear that Sala wrote a sequel. I guess it will be an unsolved mystery.

We’ll never know.

I really enjoyed the the style of it too, it has an Edward Gorey feel to it, and I just love Edward Gorey. I recommend reading it even if it has a few loose ends.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Poison Diaries

For more mysteries, go to Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

For more Gothic fiction, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Poison Diaries

So the idea of Catherine Morland’s Reading List came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen, (and I still do), I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than I like to:

The next book I’m reviewing is…

The Poison Diaries by The Duchess of Northumberland

Weed is an orphan boy who is taken in by a drunk apothecary who delights in hurting, beating, and making Weed’s life horrible.

Aw, that’s sad.

One day this horrible man shows Weed a secret garden he found that was supposed to be destroyed. This garden is full of poisonous plants and after it’s creator died it was supposed to be wiped from the earth. …But for some reason it wasn’t destroyed (because evil can’t die)

It now becomes Weed’s duty to come every day and care for them. Weed of course has to follow the instructions, or else he will receive a beating.

When he goes to the garden to care for them, the plants speak to him.

At first Weed thinks that he is crazy, but as he continues in the garden he listens to them, as each plants calls out to him and share their secrets with him-how they can heal, help, and destroy…

Hmmm…

Every plant-Belladonna, Opium, Tobacco, etc. -have a tale to share. Some are on how they helped people, but most end in death or madness…some in worse ways than others.

Going mad!

Every day the plants encourage Weed to use them against his master, to get his freedom. At first Weed completely refuses, as it is morally wrong…but as each visit continues he becomes intoxicated with the power they have.

Will he give in to their poisonous power?

Hmmm…

This book wasn’t that long, but while the book may be short in pages, it is most defintely not a light read. These gothic tales are sad and macabre-very reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe.

And this book has absolutely beautiful illustrations, look at belladonna. It is definitely worth reading just to look at them.

I also learned a lot about plants as it was very informative on what they looked like, grew, latin names, etc.

Wow!

It is not a book that I find myself wanting to read over and over, but I did enjoy it and recommend it to other gothic fans.

For more books from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

For more gothic fiction, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

So the idea of Catherine Morland’s Reading List came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen, and still do, I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on eventually reviewing. What can I say…

The next book I think Catherine Morland would read is…

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

So when this book passed my desk at the library, I immediately had to read it. The title, cover, fairy tale foundation, all tied up with a Gothic bow…you know me!

So the foundation of the story is The 12 Dancing Princesses, one of my favorites. In the original tale a King has 12 daughters who he locks up in his house every night, but every morning they are tired and their dancing shoes worn out. The king decrees that any man who finds out where they go each night and how, can marry any of the girls, and be King. However, if he does not figure it out in three days-the man will be killed. A soldier wounded from war and at a loss of what to do, is wandering through the woods were he mets an older lady. Some versions he helps her, others she sees his heart, but either way she gives him advice not to drink the wine served by the princesses and gives him an invisible cape.

That night, the soldier is almost convinced to drink the wine by the pretty princesses, but remembers the warning. He pretends and after he falls asleep, a trapdoor opens up in the floor and the girls get dressed, grab their shoes, get in a gondola, and pass silver, gold, and jewel encrusted trees to a ball in the underworld. There all the girls dance with dead princes, clearly under a spell. In the version I like, these princes want the girls as their brides to rule the underworld with them, and as the girls sleep less and less they are knocking on death’s door. The soldier goes reveals the truth, marrying one of the princesses. I have always been interested in the macabre tale, you know me and Gothic tales, so I was excited to see what Craig was going to do in her adaption.

Annaleigh lives in a beautiful castle, Highmoor, on an island in the sea. She is sixth of 12 daughters, having a happy childhood until her mother passed in the last daughter’s childbirth.

Since then, life has turned grim. Not too long after their mother’s death, the eldest sister, Ava, passed away when plague slipped through the island. Ava was followed by Octavia when she fell off a tall library ladder and broke her neck. Then Elizabeth, who always suffered from bouts of melancholia died by suicide. Annaleigh and her sisters follow the custom of wearing black for six months, followed by six months of gray. The girls have been wearing mourning colors for the last few years, secluded in their home, not allowed to take part in balls and festivities, etc.

Life is grey…

Their father, Duke of Salann Islands, has been free to travel, attend to business, etc. He remarried a young woman he met on the mainland, Morella, a woman young enough that many assume she is one of his 12 daughters.

Wow…

Not too long after the marriage, another sister died, Eulalie…but this death feels different, wrong. Ava’s death was easily explained, all saw the pustules and knew of the fever. Octavia was always clumsy and falling or bumping into things. And Elizabeth, she had a long history of depression. But Eulalie was nothing like any of them. She was healthy and strong, she was graceful and never awkward or off balance, and above all she loved life. She wasn’t interested in inheriting the Duchy and becoming the Duchess of Salann, but she loved being a lady of the island and she loved men. She was the most gorgeous of the 12 and had so many admirers.

So why did she fall off the cliff? What was she even doing out at night? Was she meeting someone? Was she murdered?

Hmm…

No one believes Annaleigh, but she feels something is not right at all and starts investigating the death of her sister, against her father’s wishes.

However, life takes a far different turn when Morella announces in the middle of Eulalie’s funeral that she is pregnant, and with a son. Morella also refuses to follow the customs of the island and wants a ball to celebrate her pregnancy and combine it with a party to celebrate the younger girl’s reaching womanhood.

Annaleigh is against this whole thing, as it looks and feels like no one cares about Eulalie, but she is outvoted and a ball is set with each sister getting their own set of “fairie slippers” dancing shoes.

Annaleigh begins investigating on the sly and visits with the fishermen who found Eulalie’s body. They found her with a locket, the chain smashed, but they could read the inscription on the piece. It was from a lover…a lover she planned to run away with, but was stopped? Or a lover that murdered her?

Hmmm…

She also meets a mysterious, handsome stranger, Cassius, who is on the island to take care of his sickly father. Cassius has otherworldly beauty and Annaleigh immediately falls for him.

All I can think is this stranger to be trusted, or is he going to bring more ruin on the household?

Hmm…

The ball comes, but it turns out to be a gloomy event. No one dances with the girls as they believe the house is cursed, that the girls carry death with them, people find it shocking that they aren’t even observing the proper grief rituals, etc. The ladies are sad, disheartened, lonely, and feel they will never escape grief, death, and gloom.

The house is full of grief, death, gloom, and tension. Verity, the youngest, starts feeling spirits and seeing things. Annaleigh starts to feel it too, seeing monsters. Are they full of grief and pain, or going crazy and cursed? Or could someone be trying to destroy the girls? Destroy their family?

Hmm…

An old family friend, Fisher, returns from being the lighthouse keeper and aids Annaleigh as her soundboard. He doesn’t offer much help, but does express a wish they could leave the island and the gossip of the curse. Annaleigh wishes the same thing, but knows her father will never let them go anywhere, they are in “mourning”. Fisher tells her stories of the gods, that there are “magic doors”, ones that allow them to go from their world to our world, easily transporting from island to capital, etc. If only, right?

Annaligh continues her investigations and finds a watch that Eulalie had. Inside was a lock of hair, a lock of blonde hair that matches Edgar Morris, the clock worker. He tells her they planned to run away that night, but when he got to their meeting place in the boat-someone, or something, knocked Eulalie over. So who, or what killed Eulalie? Or is Edgar lying and he is the murder?

Hmm…

No on believes him, but Annaleigh. The house grows darker and more depressed as the remaining girls realize the deaths of their older sisters have tainted them and they will never be able to escape…

Annaleigh wants raise their spirits and proposes searching for one of these “doors” Fisher mentioned earlier. They search the whole house and grounds but find nothing.

They decide to check the mausoleum, and when they get to the statue of the girl’s mother, they discover a door behid her. Fisher goes in first, followed by Annaleigh’s sisters Ligeia and Rosalie. After what seems like forever, the two return with an invitation to a masked ball. Uh oh, masked ball? Masked balls in Gothic stories don’t go so great.

Erik: [at the Bal Masque as “The Red Death”] Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men! Thus does The Red Death rebuke your merriment!

All the girls are excited for the ball, for a chance to be free from gloom and doom. The theme is nightmares and daydreams, each sister excitedly coming up with beautiful costumes after beautiful costume-again so pleased to wear something other than black or gray.

The girls continue to dance night after night, except for Annaleigh, and start changing from the girls she knew. Fisher tells Annaleigh he loves her, but when she refuses him, he disappears and so does her help. Edgar passes away, and with him Annaleigh’s link to finding more about Eulalie. And then some more of her sisters pass away.

What else?

Annaleigh continues to see, smell, and hear things-things no one else does. Is the house haunted by ghosts, by one of her sisters? Are they cursed? Is someone trying to make her go insane, or did they bargain with a trickster to drive them all insane?

Annaleigh is running out of time. She must find out who or what the culprit is.

I really enjoyed this story as it blended many things I love-gothic fiction, fairy tales, etc. It was a compelling story and a good mystery, one that I enjoyed and tried to guess who was behind it all. I figured it out who was doing it and why, but not the how.

Hmm…

I liked how Craig built the doom and gloom which explained why they wanted to go out and party, even at the risk of death for others and the change of who they are from the drinking and partying in the god’s world.

Pleasure Garden from Metropolis 

The only thing I didn’t like was that there was a character I really liked and he ended up passing away. Darn.

But otherwise, very good. Even my niece enjoyed it. She was drawn to the cover, like me, and sucked into the Gothic tale.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

For more on Gothic Novels, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Inn at Half Moon Bay

For more mysteries, go to An Insane Doctor, A Hysterical Herbalist, and Murder in a Magician’s Mansion + A Possible Persuasion Reference?

For more Fairy Tale retellings, go to Why I Still Love My Fair Godmother

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

So the idea of Catherine Morland’s Reading List came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured all these books that I know, if Catherine was alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on eventually reviewing. What can I say…

The next book I think Catherine Morland would read is…

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

I read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton and really enjoyed it. I was shelving books in the library and spotted this book and it called to me, you know like books do. I picked it up and knew I had to read it, as it is perfect to add to this list.

So first of all this book is amazing in how it was printed. The cover pages are set up like the cover pages of old books, looking like they are worn, torn, folded, etc. The prologue begins with a snippet from gothic story, The Mud Man, and I was instantly hooked.

This story is a Gothic Novel Lovers dream! It has a scattering of references to other novels, like the trail of breadcrumbs Hansel and Gretel left-this one leading you to the conclusion.

W have the prologue of the Mud Man and I wish it was a real book. It is so creepy!

The book is told between a few different timelines, we have 1992 (present) and 1940s (past). The story starts off with our main character narrating the story, reminiscent of Wuthering Heights, which continues as she tries to search for the truth of a family secret, just like how the main character does there.

I’m telling you, this is like Gothic Novel bingo!

Edie works for a book publisher as she loves reading. It is very small and starting to die out, only saved by Edie’s moxie as she doesn’t really want to start over.

So it starts off with an unlikely beginning, (after the Mud Man story). Back in WWII a postman became a bit too inebriated and forgot to mail a bag of letters. Said bag was discovered years later, with it becoming a huge story in the media.

Wow!

Edie’s mother was one of the people who received a letter, but instead of being happy about the missive that went away she became extremely upset about it, and asked Edie to leave.

Edie forgets all about it until she heads to Kent to sign an author. There she passes this amazing castle, Milderhurst Castle, the owner being Raymond Blythe-the author of Edie’s favorite book, The Mud Man.

Wow!

She purchases a copy of The Mud Man and another book on the history of the Blythes, and when she hears of tours to the castle she heartily wants to do it!

However, the Blythe sisters don’t allow tours anymore as they are growing older and have a younger sister who has dementia. But for some strange reason they agree to let her.

Edie is fascinated by the castle, and the strange family. (There is this part where they talk about the tubes going through the castle like in the Vincent Price radio drama Fugue in C-Minor). But it isn’t until the younger sister Juniper calls her her mother’s name-that Edie is hooked!

Huh?

Why did she think she was her mother? How does she know her mother?

What the heck?

Meanwhile, back in WWII the Blythe sisters are having some issues. The world may be at war, but they are too.

The elder sister Percy loves the castle, as if it was a part of her. She doesn’t want any thing to happen to it, and will do anything and everything she can to keep it going. She especially doesn’t want her sisters to leave as she has no knowledge or use for cooking, laundry, or any thing that really keeps the castle going and with no money to do it she needs her younger sister.

The middle daughter Saffy dreams of being a writer, a nanny, a research assistant, pretty much anything if she can get to London. But every time she tries to go-her twin Percy makes her stay. Poor girl, she’ll be stuck here forever.

Juniper is beautiful, intelligent, talented, the whole package. But she needs to be cared for as her mood swings take her to dark, dark places; she seems almost manic depressive with her mood swings and possibly schizophrenic. She goes to London and wants to stay there and get married to an army officer, who happen to be Merry’s teacher.

Merry, Edie’s mother, did not want to leave London during the bombings in WWII. She cried the whole way on the train and was one of the last to be picked. She was saved when Juniper came storming in and claimed her for their house. Merry came from a lower middle class family and finds herself in a brand new world when she goes into the castle. Books upon books, a family that values daydreaming, writing, etc-all the things that Merry was looked down back at home for liking. She loved being in the castle so much that when her parents came to take her home, she didn’t want to go back. But she does have to…and while she still sees Juniper when she comes to the city, she developed a serious crush on her teacher turned soldier. When she finds out the two are getting married, she is heartbroken as she was sure he felt something for her.

Aw, that’s sad.

Like every castle, this one holds dark, deep secrets-generational secrets. Ones that Edie gets involved with. First she tries to figure out her mother’s connection to it, and then when her father is recuperating from a heart attack and bored-she reads to him The Mud Man and they begin searching what could have been the origin of the story.

Hmmm…

She also gets asked to help write the new edition of The Mud Man, going back to the Castle and interviewing the ladies. Will she discover the secret to the idea of The Mud Man, why her mother is connected and upset over the past, and what really keeps those sisters anchored there?

This is a fantastic book, with amazing characters full of depth. If you like Gothic novels you will go ga-ga over this. You can clearly see how much the author loved gothic novels and loves books-she goes on and on about them (I clocked Wuthering Heights, The Yellow Wallpaper, Rebecca, etc.) This author is a spooky girl!

The end was is very cute with her father getting interested in reading fiction and novels after they read The Mud Man together.

And the twist of how the mud man came to be, the truth behind who the monster is-wow!

Wow!

There were two things I didn’t like about this book though: there is a point in the third act where the book drags, I would have cut those pages as they didn’t really add to the story.

And there is a whole section about what did Juniper do that night? Everyone is scared as she is late coming home, covered in someone else’s blood, and coming out of a “mood”; but they never resolve it. What did she do that night?

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Tell-Tale Heart

For more on Gothic Novels, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Murders in the Rue Morgue

For more stories set in WWII, go to The Colonel