Jane Austen Birthday Party: Game I, Jane Austen Trivia

So as I have been saying in every post, I have been planning my Jane Austen 29th birthday party for a few years (it was originally supposed to be my 27th birthday celebration but things happened); and I was finally able to have it.

So in my previous posts I went over the invitations, the prizes, the decorations, making a teapot piñata, the menu, etc. The next step in my party planning was activities. I ended up choosing to have the activities of paper fan making and croquet for those who didn’t want to play the games; or for the little girls to do while the adults played the games.

Party time!

So originally I had planned for three games, but I ended up doing four. The first game I had wanted to play a type of guess who game where I gave an Austen character to each party guest. I planned for each to have a short bio of their character along with a list of characters everyone else was going to be. I planned for each to act out their character, the first person to get someone to guess them right would receive a prize. I thought it would be a lot of fun, but then my sister and mother pointed out that the people attending were not really Austen fans.

Yes it turned out that all my friends who had actually read or watched Austen’s works were unable to come and the friends that were attending had very limited exposure to Jane Austen. So it was back to the drawing board .

Hmm…?

My next thought was that I would do a game that was more of “Who Am I?” I would give everyone a list of characters and then I would read out a short bio of each character and they would have to match up who goes with which storyline. I thought this would be easier and I could do it either before or after the trivia game, that way it would help people get a boost in answering one of the games.

But when I presented it to my mom and sister, they both still thought it would be too hard. So it was back again to try and come up with a new idea.

Hmm…

I decided to shelve it altogether and instead work on the Jane Austen Trivia game I had planned. I sat down and wrote it up, but then when I looked it back over, I realized it was too hard. I ended up throwing it out and starting all over again.

So I rewrote it, and then this time it was far too easy. I thought if I used it then everyone would be a winner. That one joined the other in the trash.

Ugh, so hard.

I did a few more drafts and then finally settled on one that I thought wasn’t too hard, but also not too easy.

However, it still appears that I made it too hard as everyone said it was really difficult.

From Clueless

My friend who won got 9/15 questions correct and chose prize three. I will attach the Trivia file below and let me know what you think. Was it too hard? Too easy? Or do you think just right?

At the end of the post I’ll put the answers. Let me know what your score is.

I’ve been having so much fun sharing all these things with you, and even though the party has ended I will be continuing to share all my other party plans!

Answers: 1.B, 2.A, 3.C, 4.D, 5.A, 6.A, 7.B, 8.B, 9.B, 10.C, 11.B, 12.D, 13.A, 14.C, 15. A&K, B&M, C&N, D&H, E&J, F&L, G&I

For more of my Jane Austen Birthday plans, go to Jane Austen Birthday: Prize One

For more Jane Austen party ideas, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party Menu, Plus How to Dip Cookies in Chocolate, and a Sugar Cookie Recipe

For more Jane Austen games, go to Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game

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)

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?