Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen Children’s Stories #5) by Jane Austen, adapted by Gemma Barder
If you’ve been following me, you know that I love to brainwash share my love of Jane Austen with my nieces and my friends’ children.
So any time I spot a children’s book that has to do with Jane Austen, I try and purchase it to gift to them and hopefully influence spark a love of Jane Austen in them.
One day I was on Amazon when this Jane Austen Children’s Stories series cameacross my book recommendations. This series takes the text of Jane Austen and adapts it for children who are reading on their own and want something longer than a beginning reader, but not quite ready for a thick chapter books. Each novel has easy to read text, illustrations, but at the same time still retain the plot of the original novels.
The recommended age for this series is 7-10 years old. The series has adapted Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Love and Friendship. You can buy them individually at ~$7 a paperback (hardcover is ~$12 per book) or in a set of all seven in paperback form (plus a journal) for ~$27.
Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen’s books to be written and is a parody of gothic novels and a satire on society. In the story Catherine Morland is a minister’s daughter who loves to read and has an overactive imagination. She is asked to accompany family friends to Bath and while there her life becomes a bit like a novel as she meets the mysterious Tilney family, and the. delightful and handsome Mr. Tilney. She also has another less moral man vying for her affections, Mr. Thorpe. She is later given an opportunity to stay with the Tilneys in their home, Northanger Abbey, and while there wonders if there is a dark secret on the premises. Catherine begins investigating but is there really a mystery or has her overactive imagination just struck again?
I thought the adaption was very well done as it reminded me a lot of the Great Illustrated Classics series I used to read when I was a child, but geared for a slightly younger age. They kept the plot of the book, but removed some of the language or plot points that would sail over a elementary aged child’s head.
I also enjoyed the illustrations, well…except for the men’s outfits, they were not accurate.
I love the way they drew General Tilney. Look how sour he is, there is no doubt that General Tilney is an unpleasant man. Just look at his face.
I really enjoyed it, and I’m hoping my 10 year old cousin, who I purchased it for, will love it as well (fingers crossed). If you are looking for Jane Austen for an elementary schooled child in your life, then I definitely recommend giving this series a read.
For those who are celebrating, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day. To honor my mother, today’s book was a recommendation from my mother. I am always thankful for her patience toward my obstinacy.
Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers is something I started a while back for fans of Jane Austen who are looking for something to read.
There are Jane Austen’s works and numerous variations, but while those adapts are fun, sometimes you don’t always want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but something different. But what can you read instead?
That’s why I started this series. I will be reviewing books that have the things we love about the Austen novels, but are not another retelling.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
A few years ago I reviewed Ella Enchanted as part of my 30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves (something I ended up running out of time to finish but will one day complete. I think I’m only short two books). And at the time it made me think of Pride and Prejudice, well at least Prince Char made me think of Mr. Darcy.
I always meant to write a post about how it reminded me of elements of Jane Austen, but I ended up forgetting all about it as I was sidetracked by other reviews and life. You know how it goes…
But now not only do I have this new series to put it under, Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers but I also have reread it and decided it’s finally time to finish the post I drafted three years ago.
But for those who do no want to go to a separate post, I’ll do a quick synopsis. Ella Enchanted is a retelling of Cinderella and one of my favorite retellings.
In EllaEnchanted, Ella is “blessed”, really cursed, with obedience. She must always do what someone tells her to do, it is physically impossible for her to deny an order. This has made life really hard for her, as she struggled to make the best of her situation. Ella has a sharp mind and tongue, her words sometimes being the only thing that can get her through some days.
Ella’s mother dies at a young age and Ella is raised by her father, who does not really care about her, but himself and status more. She is sent away to finishing school where she is controlled by two girls who discover her secret, Hattie and Olive.
Ella escapes finishing school and charms ogres, reunites with the Prince (who she earlier befriended), and discovers that her father has lost his fortune and plans to remarry. Not only is the horrible woman Mum Olga going to be her stepmother, but her stepsisters are going to be the terrible Hattie and Olga. When these ladies discover Sir Peter’s lack of finances, they poor their angry into ordering Ella about. Will Ella survive life with these horrible ladies? And will she ever discover a way to break the curse?
This book has action, adventure, romance, and more. I highly recommend it.
But why do I recommend this book to Jane Austen fans? First of all Ella reminds me of Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse. All three women are beautiful, witty, from a life of privilege, and brave enough to face on people head to head. But while they are all witty and intelligent, they all tend to act rashly and make decisions that make things difficult for them later on. All of these ladies: Ella, Elizabeth, and Emma; tend to make quick judgements, like to be right, and can have issues with humility.
Areida, Ella’s only friend from finishing school, is extremely sweet and caring, just like Jane Bennet. Areida is bullied at finishing school as her family isn’t wealthy and she has an accent as she is from Ayortha. However, when one of the mean girls who likes to humiliate Areida becomes ill, Areida stays up all night to take care of her. That is such a Jane Bennet thing to do.
Sir Stephen is one of Prince Char’s knights, and while he isn’t in the book long; the way he talks about his dogs reminds me of Sir John. Both men are kind, sweet, and absolutely love their hounds.
Sir Peter, Ella’s father, is extremely similar to General Tilney. He is not a kind man, and only cares about wealth and status. Both men will eagerly trade their children’s happiness to achieve what they want. Like General Tilney, Sir Peter can pretend to be kind and charming to woo a rich woman, in order to gain the wealth and status he desires.
The step family of Olga, Hattie, and Olive remind me of the Elliot’s from Persuasion: Sir Walter Elliot, Elizabeth Elliot, and Mary (Elliot) Musgrove. Like Sir Walter, Dame Olga only cares about status, looks, and having the right presence in society. Hattie and Olive both love to use Ella and have her take care of everything, slowly sucking the soul out of her; just like how Elizabeth and Mary treat Anne. Hattie and Elizabeth only care about themselves and are constantly putting down their sisters. Like Mary, Olive constantly wants attention and likes it whine about how she has the short end of the stick, compares her life to her sisters. When Anne is with her sisters she is often treated as a servant, the same stays that Hattie and Olive downgrade Ella to.
And last, but not least as he is the one that inspired this post: Char. Char reminds me of Mr. Darcy. While Char is full of responsibilities, having been taught at a young age how to be and how his actions reflect on the kingdom (just like Mr. Darcy and Pemberley), they also both share the same characteristic of “when their opinion is lost it is lost forever.”
However, this sentiment does not apply to the woman they care for.
And while Char can be open and fun, he tends to be closed off when he is with people he doesn’t know and only really shows his true self to a select full-like Darcy with Bingley, Elizabeth, Colonel Fitzwilliam, etc. Char also loves and cares for his younger sister, just like Darcy.
It’s one of my favorites and I strongly recommend it.
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.); and I was also able to reviewthe Midsomer Murders episode “Death by Persuasion“. Then last year I came up with one of my better ideas:
So Northanger Abbey is probably my favorite Jane Austen book as I just love Catherine, she’s so me.
I haven’t seen this adaption in over ten years. When I first read Pride and Prejudice back at the age of 16 I then went on to read the rest of Austen’s works and then watched every adaption I could my hands on. I remember not really being into it, there’s a lady with a heavily painted face and mole (why she is focused on I don’t remember), and that is about it.
So let’s see how this rewatch goes. And also joining me is my sister (R), my mom, and my 25 year old male friend (N).
So what is up with this music? It’s a weird dramatic rock opera. With some weird chanting going on.
We start off with Catherine in a tree reading a book.
She acts out the parts of the books, making different voices, but then imagines herself in the book. It was cute, but there are way too many of these scenes in this movie. It made it feel really, really dragged out. I like that the 2007 version kept that in, but made sure to do less and have them mostly be when she is dreaming instead of just randomly all the time.
This actress, Katharine Schlesinger, has really pretty eyes but she tends to just have them go dead.
I think she was trying to go for a wide eyed innocence look, but it comes off creepy, desperate, and shark like at times.
So Catherine gets asked to go to Bath and on the way we have another “imagination” scene where she is captured (again) and tied to a bed (again). My friend N who had never heard of Northanger Abbey was really shocked at this.
“N: She’s got an activeimagination. She’sprobably into bondage.
In his defense they have showed her being tied up in a majority of her imaginings. I guess the director was trying to go for sexy gothic fiction, but it was weird and it was Harding to have the film interrupted like every 10 minutes (it was probably more time between).
One thing that is really odd about this film is that on the way to Bath they have Catherine ass Northanger Abbey and is told about. I really didn’t like this because first of all why is Northanger Abbey down the block from her house? And secondly, her knowing of Northanger Abbey before meeting the Tilneys makes her seem like a gold digger as she already knows if their wealth and is enamored of the abbey. It’s a really weird choice to make and I’m not sure why they decided to do that.
As they pass by they also play this creepy horror music that is really out of place. It also makes it sound like vampires live there.
Me: What is with this music. Definitely sounds like a vampire is in there.
N: Might as well come out Vampires, they are playing your music.
We then get even more shots close up in her face. I really, really, really don’t like it. They are too big, too unblinking, and the director gets too close.
So they wait a day to go out as they needed to get more clothes. When they do go they meet Mr. Tilney and no offense to Peter Firth but he is no JJ Feild. I mean look at JJ Feild:
And now Peter Firth:
Me: He looks…kinda…weird.
My Mom: He looks an elf.
N: He looks like a creep.
To make things worse, this Mr. Tilney is pretty stiff and lacks charm. He also likes to philosophize a lot which didn’t bother the others viewing but it made me really uncomfortable as I felt that he was insulting and trying to educate Catherine to his way of thinking; instead of getting to know her. Maybe I’m off base but that’s how I felt about it all.
The next day they can’t go out because it is raining and Catherine stares out the window angry-again looking super creepy. She looks like she wants to burn the city down.
Like she looks crazy!
James arrives with John Thorpe and it feels like they are just flipping through this book. John Thorpe arrives and there is a clown horn sound effect, I’m not sure what it is and how it is made in the Regency era, but if that doesn’t fully encapsulate John Thorpe than I don’t know what does.
N: Here comes the Mad Hatter
R: He looks like a leprechaun.
N: He looks like a creep.
And to add to the creepiness of this scene the director decided to do lots of closeups on the face, filling the screen with them. I’m like can we back away please and give them some space.
The Thorpes are interesting characters. John is oozing creepiness and gives off that vibe of that one guy that is obsessive and controlling. Isabella is all smiles and it is all the same smile, 24/7. I think the director or actress was trying to have it be her facade, hiding her true nature; but to me it was unnerving to see her smiling all the time.
After this the two go on a ride in the gig, Catherine not being super into it, with the boys splitting up to be alone with their girls”. This scene is also weird as John Thorpe asks a few awkward questions to find out if she is rich or not but it is really strange way of questioning and he sound slike he suspects her of being a good digger. Which is odd because he IS one.
The other thing that is odd about this film is that it has been missing the Tilneys. Where are they?
The next day Mrs. Allen discovers that Mr. Tilney is there with his sister. She gets all happy that Mr. Tilney is single and goes into another fantasy.
N: Oh no, not again! Here is another bondage fantasy.
This fantasy/daydream is pretty gross as it shows a woman sewing her fingers together. Ew!
The next day Catherine and Isabella (or as the actress calls her, Isabeller) are spending time together and Isabella shares that she and James are in love and he went to ask his parent’s permission. Isabella is a little worried because her family doesn’t have money, and thanks to John Thorpe’s running of the mouth, they believe the Morland’s to soon-to-be wealthy, as they will inherit Mr. Allen’s wealth.
Catherine Morland: James and I think marrying for money is a very wicked thing to do.
My Mom: That’s because you are poor.
The next day they all go to the baths and everyone was surprised by the little wooden boards around their necks. I thought they held like bath salts or something, everyone else thought it was food. Does anyone know exactly what those are? I did a quick google search but didn’t find anything. I plan to go into more research later.
N: I like the snack tray hanging around their necks. I think it’s cool they have a little charcuterie to get their snack on.
So this scene is really weird as she hasn’t been introduced to Eleanor and just goes up to her and starts talking. It’s very much like when Mr. Collins approaches Mr. Darcy at the ball. It comes off very desperate and the in my opinion, if this film wasn’t based off a beloved book that I had read I would have thought that these people need to get a restraining order or something as Catherine comes off sooo crazy and almost obsessed with them.
So Eleanor and Catherine made plans to go walking and Mr. Thorpe does not want that at all. He wants to keep her with him, as does Isabella as they think Catherine is set to be an heiress. Catherine does not want to go with him, but he decided that would not do and cancels with the Tilneys for he. This John Thorpe is an extra creeping creep! When Catherine tried to leave he grabs her arm to force her to stay. Like he gets completely crazy
John Thorpe: I like a girl with spirit.
No, run Catherine! Run! She does, thank goodness, but when she runs she holds her skirts up really high that her knees are showing. I’m like girl, what are you doing?She runs all the way to the Tilneys and just barges in their house into their sitting room where they are together babbling about the walk and how she wants to be with them. She looks and acts crazy.
She meets General Tilney and while Eleanor explain the situation, Mr. Tilney low key tries to get an invite. Like this Mr. Tilney is trying to be sarcastic and silly, but something seems off. Like he’s a bit too grandiose and flamboyant in his interactions to me.
I really do not like this Mr. Tilney as everything he says is too mean spirited or the way he talks to Catherine feels as if he is mansplaining/talking down to her. The words aren’t bad, but the delivery he is just out there and there is no charm or chemistry between them. They share the same space but they don’t feel like they are inhabiting the same world.
So unfortunately I have not been able to finish transcribing my review from my notes. As I have to go to work I will pause her, and continue with part II tonight.
Sorry for that brief intermission. I am going to try and finish up what I can while on my lunch and then everything else tonight. Although it won’t be much as the power went out 15 minutes into my lunch and just came on.
So I have been thinking about this all day and I really think the reason why I don’t like this portrayal of Mr. Tilney is that he is too much like Mr. Collins and Mr. Elton. He has grandiose manners and a interacts (body language) like Mr. Collins and then his way of talking and uppityness (although he’s supposed to be making fun of people) is too reminiscent of Mr. Elton. One of the reasons Mr Tilney is so enjoyable is that he is different from the other Austen characters. I really feel this actor did not understand the character he is supposed to be playing.
So everything is going well, but then Captain Fredrick Tilney enters the picture. My friend N had a few thoughts about him:
N: He [Frederick Tilney] looks like the guy from Pirates of the Caribbean.
I don’t think so, I mean they both wear a wig. That’s about it.
N: [Talking about Captain Tilney] I can’t believe these cheesy lines.
Me: He’s like that frat guy who has his set of lines that he uses and just goes down the line of girls until it works on someone. Plus he’s the first son and rich.
N: So he’s a Regency frat guy?
Catherine watches Frederick and Isabella together and is worried. She wants Mr. Tilney to do something but he won’t as he has tried before and his brother won’t listen. I guess if I had to choose one thing that this adaption does really well is that I like how it shows the brother’s relationship. Although, while it shows their relationship well, it doesn’t show his and Eleanor as well as the 2007 adaption. He and Eleanor have a few scenes together, but he talks more about her than spends time with her.
Catherine and Mr. Tilney then have what would have been a cute scene, Mr. Tilney sarcastically echoing her words from before telling her that Isabella has a choice and Catherine giving it back to him, except she peters out and ends her sentence with dead eyes.
She convinces Mr. Tilney and he goes to his brother where they both take snuff! Snuff! No wonder Mr. Tilney is acting so weird, he’s been up on cocaine.
Catherine gets invited to go to Northanger Abbey and is super excited as she thinks it will be just like in her novels she has been reading. But what is sad is that Catherine Moreland wishes she was in a gothic novel, but Eleanor is trapped in one. She’s in a dreary old home with an abusive father, stuck there alone until she gets married. She’s had a wealthy life but an emotionally poor one, in contrast to Catherine who grew up not with riches but with parents who cared more about her than what they could broker with her.
So they get to the Abbey and Catherine is told that General Tilney is very particular about time and to not dilly dally. She reads her book and is late, later getting lost/exploring the abbey. These scenes were probably the best in the film as it was nice to see her wander through the mysterious manor.
She then goes to a random room and we have the weirdest exchange I have ever seen. So Catherine is looking at a canary in a cage when Mr. Tilney comes upon her. She’s looking at a bird in the cage and Mr. Tilney tells her that it is a canary. Catherine remarks how sad it is that it is in a cage and then Mr. Tilney tells her that’s all it has ever known. He then asks her if she has a stout heart or can handle being stuck her in a really, really creepy voice.
This scene is so creepy! Mr. Tilney sounds like a psycho! Like the way the scene is done with the cage it makes it sound like he is planning on making her a permanent fixture, and not in a good way-like buried in the walls or locked in the attic. N said that he thought he was playing up the gothic points but even he agreed with me this whole scene was creepy. If I was in this situation I would run and that is what I would tell Catherine to do.
You know an adaption is bad when it makes you afraid Mr. Tilney is going to murder Catherine.
That night at dinner General Tilney is super controlling and gets angry when his son doesn’t propose to him over the soup.
There is a definite shift in characters when leaving Bath for Northanger Abbey. In Bath Catherine was acting all crazy, while in Northanger Abbey it is Mr. Tilney. We also have the general shifting from genial to controlling, uncouth, and rude.
N: I don’t understand why they have such a big table for just a few people.
Me: That’s because you’re poor .
N: [Laughs] You’re right, that is something a poor person would say.
That night Catherine is in her room looking through the writing desk for clues when she hears Eleanor and Tilney outside her room, Eleanor having a breakdown. I know they want to give character development, but it seems odd that they would do this outside their guest’s room.
They also sound like they are planning to murder General Tilney, it’s like Northanger Abbey became the murder house or something.
General Tilney acts like a vampire. Like I forget at times what he is saying as he looks like he wants to suck her blood.
Catherine also is super insensitive in this adaption. When talking to Elinor about her dead mother she refers to Mrs. Tilney as “the corpse”.
The Tilney have a party and Mr. Tilney sings in a flamboyant way with another girl. He looks silly and horrible, but Catherine looks worse as her eyes bore into the woman and she looks as if she would like to murder her.
The other guest is, Marchioness de Thierry, who shares the same backstory as the real life person, Jane Austen’s sister-in-law Eliza de Feuillide.
The makeup and costuming is ghastly and this character doesn’t even really add to the story.
N: She [Marchioness de Thierry] looks like Dr. Frank N. Furter.
Then we have the weirdest scene. A little servant boy leads Catherine outside during the performance WHERE HE DOES CARTWHEELS and she has another fantasy/daydream. Like what is even happening?!!
So later the General invites Catherine out riding. She agrees but after questioning the maid decides she would much rather try to investigate Mrs. Tilney’s room, she and Elinor had tried to see the picture earlier but failed. As soon as all have ridden away she snoops to the mother’s room and looks around.
Mr. Tilney interrupts her as he wanted to check on her. Again, he really creeps me out in this scene as he is angry, but says everything calm, quiet, and over the top. He makes me think of Hannibal Lector when he talks to Clarice. It also doesn’t help that he has a riding crop and blocks the door, giving even more creep vibes.
He leaves and Catherine, sad, goes to her room and destroys the book by ripping it up and throwing it in the fireplace. NOOOO! NOT THE BOOKS!!!
Catherine cries the day away and falls asleep. She is awoken by Eleanor who falls asleep. She is awoken by Eleanor who brings a letter from James? Catherine’s brother. He shares that Isabella had broken their engagement for Captain Tilney. Catherine is upset but then Eleanor shares that her brother will not marry Isabella.
Apparently, General Tilney has gambled all their money away and needs his children to marry rich people (even though Eleanor is in love with a poor man and seeing him secretly.) I felt this weakened General Tilney as a villain as him being rich and still a money grabber was worse than a degenerate gambler.
Catherine’s trip ends with General Tilney returning home and sending Catherine packing. This scene wasn’t bad but they didn’t really show the fear and the danger of her going home alone.
Then we have the “romantic” end scene. This weird ‘80s music chanting plays as fog rolls in. Mr. Tilney rides in on a dark horse, and says:
Mr. Tilney: “I promise not to oppress you with too much remorse or too much passion, but since you left us the white rose bush has died of grief.”
Not only did we all go huh, but Catherine Morland does to. Like what does this mean?! I think he has been taking too much snuff that his brain is is not connecting right.
So I think they were trying to do a storybook/gothic ending but because there are so many fantasy/daydreams it really just feels like one. I guess the director could have been trying to do her fantasy has come to life but it didn’t really work. I also did not like the freeze frame ending. As a whole, I did not like this film
Costumes: The wigs and hair are really bad. Like hardly anyone has a good one. It’s really bad. The costume colors are as well, they are accurate pieces but not as nice as in the later adaptions.
Actors: The only actors I really enjoyed was Googie Withers as Mrs. Allen and Ingrid Lacey as Eleanor Tilney. Robert Hardy as General Tilney was good but a bit inconsistent in his manner. Peter Firth as Mr. Tilney was too stiff and Katharine Schlesinger as Catherine Morland was very inconsistent as at times she was animated but other times like a sleepwalker and she had those dazed/dead eyes.
Set: I liked the set design a lot. I really enjoyed when they were in the Abbey and wish we spent more time there. I just wish they had utilized better lighting and angles.
On a while I did not enjoy this adaption, but prefer the 2007 version instead. Although this one did have a lot more horror elements as Catherine had creepy stalker vibes and Mr. Tilney gave off murder-y vibes.
I don’t know if she will like it, but she enjoyed Sense and Sensibility, so I’m confident she won’t hate it.
I will give a quick synopsis for those who have never sent the film or read the book. Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen’s books to be written and is kind of a parody of gothic novels and a saltire on society. In the story Catherine Morland is a minister’s daughter who loves to read and has an overactive imagination. She is asked to accompany family friends to Bath and while there her life becomes a bit like a novel as she meets the mysterious Tilney family, of which one son she finds delightful and handsome, Mr. Tilney. She also has another man vying for her affections, a more crude and brutish man, Mr. Thorpe. She is later given an opportunity to stay with the Tilneys in their home Northanger Abbey and wonders if there is a dark secret there. Catherine begins investigating but is there really a mystery or has her overactive imagination just struck again?
So the film starts off with the great quote from the beginning of the novel:
“No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.”
I love that quote. I feel it right away connects you to Catherine as most of us are just average people.
G: What’s a heroine?
Me: A female hero.
The film then progresses to talking about Cathrine more how she was plain and more interested in boy’s things than girls, but around 15 she started to care more about her appearance and other things. Her parents were known to say:
“Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl—she is almost pretty today…”
G: Don’tlie to her.
My niece can be really mean sometimes. I think Felicity Jones is so cute and very pretty.
I also love that quote to “be almost pretty”:
G: Her little sister is so annoying.
Me: Yeah the little sister is very sassy.
So as the film progresses, the Allen’s ask Catherine to come along with them. We both agreed that we wished we had a family friend who wouldn’t ask us on a vacation like that. I mean at least my niece has me, but I wish I had had someone do that for me when I was young.
So in between the action with Catherine every time she reads she imagines herself in the book and we have a dream or imagination while reading sequence. I really like this, but my niece was not a fan.
G: This is weird.
So Catherine and Co. arrive in Bath and when they go out the next day they run into Mr. Tilney.
G: Is that the guy she’s gonna end up with?
Wow, she was sharp. At least she’s not opposed to him like she was to Colonel Brandon last year. But then again who could ever resist JJ Feild?
G: I really like their [Mrs. Allen and Catherine] dresses.
I totally agree, as even though Catherine isn’t the wealthiest Austen heroine, nor the poorest, I like her dresses the most.
I love how Mr. Tilney is able to clear the room for the ladies with a glare. He’s like get out of the way, this table is for the ladies!
So as Catherine dances with Mr. Tilney, she notices another man watching her and questions Mr. Tilney about him.
“Catherine: [Puzzled] Why does he look at us?
Mr. Tilney: I imagine he likes what he sees.
Catherine: [Incredulous] You don’t mean me?”
G: No duh!
Yeah, Catherine is pretty naive. Although in her defense she’s never really been called pretty before so it is easy not to see it in yourself.
Mr. Tilney decides to sassy and sarcastic (as usual):
“Mr. Tilney: So, tell me, what will you write in your journal tonight? ‘Friday, went to the Lower Rooms, wore my sprigged muslin dress with blue trimmings, and looked very pretty, though I say so myself. Danced with one man, was stared at by another much more handsome.”
Me: Who do you think is more handsome, Mr. Tilney orhim? [points to Mr. Thorpe]
G: Not him [points to Thorpe], he looks weird. I like that other guy, what’s his name? Christopher?
Me: Mr. Tilney, Henry Tilney.
We have another dream sequence and at first G wasn’t into it, but then we started talking about how we act when we read.
G: I like to imagine myself as a character or create my own.
Me: Me too.
Look at that, we both be Catherine Morlands.
The next day Mrs. Allen and Catherine are out and they run into Mrs. Thorpe and Isabella Thorpe.
G: She [Isabella] looks mean.
Me: Well, she’s not a nice. And look at her dress, during the day ladies wore a fichu or lace to cover themselves and only at night would wear something so low cut, but Isabella is not following the rules.
The next day the girls are out checking to see if Mr. Tilney is still visiting the Upper Rooms. They don’t see his signature and leave, being followed by two men. The men go a different way and instead of steering away, Isabella wants to cross paths with them again.
G:She wants torun into those men, that’s why she has her boobs out.
Isabella is definitely on the prowl!
They run into James Morland (Catherine Morland’s brother) and John Thorpe (Isabella’s brother). James is super into Isabella and John tries to get with Catherine.
G: John Thorpelooks so crazy! He’s so creepy.
Me: It is because he has such a heavy brow.
G: Yeah but it is the way he stares at her, with his eyes-it is so crazy [mimics John Thorpe].
Me: Yeah, he makes me think of those tiktok videos when they say do you want to look creepy?Thenlower your head and look up with your eyes.
G: He does!
That night they go to a dance and Mr. Tilney arrived with a woman in tow.
G: [Screams]…oh it’s his sister.
The two spend the time talking and make plans to go walking the next day. The only problem is, John Thorpe has other plans. John starts with “I think I saw them leaving”, with Isabella backing him up, then he insists that in this brief passage in the street from far away that he heard them saying they will be gone.
Me: Do you hear that, first he asks Catherine does Mr. Tilney have a certain type of horses and then he’s all I heard them say they will be gone all day. Such a liar!
Catherine insists they wouldn’t act that way, but then her brother interjects and makes her doubt herself.
“James Morland: My dear scatter-brained sister, haven’t you just heard him say they’re halfway to Wick Rocks?”
G: Shut up James! You’re supposed to be on my side!
Me: I know, right! James is so awful, lookhow he talks to her.
John Thorpe goes off in his phaeton with Catherine and who should they see as they go down the way.
“Catherine Morland: [Sees Mr. Tilney and Miss Tilney] Oh, Miss Tilney! [To Mr. Thorpe] Stop! Stop now! It’s Miss Tilney and her brother!
John Thorpe: There’ll be hell to pay if I tried to stop him now!
Catherine Morland: Please stop, Mr Thorpe! I’ll get down! I will!
John Thorpe: It’s not possible!
Catherine Morland: Oh!
John Thorpe: Whoa, there!
Catherine Morland: How could you deceive me so?
John Thorpe: Well, what if I did?
G: Boom! I would smack him!
Me: He definitely needs a punch in the face.
G: Get Out and Run, Catherine!
Me: She should! But she won’t as he manipulates her into feeling bad that if she leaves her brother and Isabella, they can’t ride together.
They get rained on, served them right. And the next day they go to the opera where John Thorpe tries to be romantic and fails.
“John Thorpe: Damn fine-looking woman. [To Catherine] But she’s nothing to you, you know.
G: I don’t care!
Ugh, John Thorpe!
Catherine goes to talk to the Tilneys after the opera performance and apologizes. Mr. Tilney tries to act cool, but you know he was probably driving Eleanor up the wall with his heartbroken.
G: You’re [John Thorpe] nothing to him [Mr. Tilney]
A couple days later Catherine learns of James and Isabella’s engagement. John Thorpe tries to ask Catherine, sort of.
“John Thorpe: Miss Morland, I, too, must take my leave for the present, just for the present. I’m going to accompany James to Fullerton, and then onto town to help him choose a ring.
G: I’m not going to miss you.
Me: I know, right.
“John Thorpe: Perhaps I might look for one for myself while I’m there. Do you think I should?”
So the men leave and the next time they go to a ball, Isabella states she will not dance with anyone. However, Mr. Tilney’s older brother, the rogue, enters the scene.
“Mr. Tilney: Miss Morland, allow me to introduce my brother, Captain Tilney.
Captain Tilney: [Dismissive] Charmed. [Moves away from them]
Mr. Tilney: Don’t let my brother’s ill manners offend you. That’s how he is, I’m afraid. He was ill-mannered as a baby.
Even though Isabella wasn’t supposed to be dancing as her “love” is away, she dances with Captain Tilney.
Catherine ends up being asked to go visit Northanger Abbey. We both wished we could go to a castle.
On Catherine’s last day in Bath she and Isabella go to the Upper Rooms. There Isabella hangs out with Captain Tilney.
G: Are they [Isabella and Captain Tilney] dating now?
Me: Just watch.
Catherine then travels to Northanger Abbey which is awesome and mysterious and I really, really, really want to go there one day.
G: I wish I could go to a castle. I want everyone to know the princess that I am.
So at Northanger Abbey Catherine spends a lot of fun time with the Tilneys, especially once General Tilney leaves on business. One thing Catherine had wanted to see was the portrait of Mrs. Tilney, but General Tilney kept them from the room. When Mr. Tilney goes away, Catherine takes the time to search in the room.
G: Why are we snooping around?
I alsways feel embarrassed when Catherine does this but I totally would want to do the same. Unfortunately, Mr. Tilney catches her and as you can imagine it doesn’t go well.
Catherine become even more upset when she gets a letter from her brother James who has ended his engagement as Isabella was trying to get with Captain Tilney, he has left Bath believing the two to be engaged although Eleanor does not believe her brother will, he’s not into commitment.
G: It’s because of all those low cut dresses she wore.
Then Catherine gets a letter from Isabella. Isabella tried to trade up but nothing came of it as Captain Tilney is not into commitment.
”Catherine Morland: I wish I had never known her.
Eleanor Tilney: It will soon be as if you never had.
Catherine Morland: There is one thing I can’t understand. What has Captain Tilney been about all this time? Why should he pay her such attentions and then fly off himselr?
Eleanor Tilney: He has his vanity, as well as Miss Thorpe. And he is accustomed to…having his way. Though I am surprised he should have stooped to such an easy conquest.
Catherine Morland: Really? Then I am sorry for Isabella.
Eleanor: I am sure she will be over it soon enough. “
Oh, Eleanor is just throwing shade.
So the film ends with Catherine being sent home with no escort. She doesn’t cause a scene as she thinks that Mr. Tilney told his father what she thought about him murdering his wife. After she returns home, Mr. Tilney comes after her and declares his love in the most romantic way! It is such a great scene!
So after the movie ended I asked her thoughts:
Me: Did you like it? What did you think?
G: It was good.
Me: Did you like it better than Sense and Sensibility?
G: Hmm…I don’t know.
Me: Which guy do you like the best. One of the guys from Sense and Sensibility or Mr. Tilney.
G: I don’t remember what they looked like.
Me: This one is Mr. Ferrars, Elinor’s love interest [Shows picture of Hugh Grant]. And then the other guy was the actor who played Snape.
Me: Yes, Snape.
G: I liked this guy better. I think he was cuter.
Yay! She likes Mr. Tilney and she liked the movie. My work here is done…at least for now.
If interested in a full review, click on this link. Otherwise thank you for 9 wonderful years! Happy Blogiversary!
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.
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?
Okay, so I had to admit, it seems that Emma is a mystery.
So I was wrong, but while i will concede that Emma is a mystery, is it the only one?
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.
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?
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?
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?