Friday, July 30, 2010

Northanger Abbey Update #2 – Chapters 10-15

This post is part of a readalong and will likely contain many plot references.

This part of the novel was so good! It actually made me feel frustrated and even angry. I don’t know about you guys but this Thorpe character had me fuming! I could not believe how in chapter 11 he deceived Catherine about seeing the Tilneys drive off, making Catherine believe she wouldn’t be going on a walk with them. I was happy Catherine called him out about lying to her. But Thorpe more or less abducts Catherine for the day… the creep.

If you remember, Thorpe makes a wild promise to drive out to the ruins of a castle much to Catherine’s interest. Now, this seemed normal enough especially since Catherine likes reading gothic novels. But remember N.A. is a gothic parody. Thanks to the footnotes in my Broadview edition (I love Broadview texts!) this episode became quite funny: “Thorpe either lies or is ignorant of the fact that Blaize Castle was actually a sham built in 1766…” and not a real castle – ha! (101).

The drama continues as Thorpe yet again thwarts Catherine’s attempt to walk with the Tilneys in chapter 13. He actually goes to Miss Tilney and tells her Catherine won’t be coming! Wow. Austen is great at creating douchey characters! Poor Catherine has to flee Thorpe’s presence and insist Miss Tilney see her so she can explain. I loved how Catherine stuck to her guns about not going with Thorpe and barged into the Tilney’s house to set the record straight. Finally, she’s getting some gumption.

But what about Henry Tilney? Is he a good guy? He strikes me as a fast talker and flatterer so it’s hard to get a read on him. I think he likes Catherine – she obviously likes him. But he does make some disagreeable statements about women at times. Is he being funny? Miss Tilney tries to make Catherine think so. I’m not sure about Henry yet. Catherine has her rosy colored glasses on when she sees H. which could be dangerous for her. I’m waiting to see how their relationship plays out.

I felt bad for Catherine when she found out her brother and Isabella got engaged. How sad that he did not tell Catherine about his intentions and let her share in his happiness. He seems to cut her out at every opportunity. He certainly isn’t looking out for Catherine at all. And neither are the Allen’s, her supposed chaperones. I think Catherine’s beginning to realize that she’s going to have to be the one to look out for herself. There’s no one coming to this damsel-in-distress’ aid.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for chapters 16-23 next week!
If you like N.A. or Austen in general, check out readalong participants’ posts like mine, links to which can be found here. It’s fun reading everyone’s take on this classic!


  1. +JMJ+

    I, too, was furious at Thorpe when he lied about the Tilneys and then laughed when he was found out, although Catherine was so obviously distressed. (Maybe he even liked it!)

    But I was also very annoyed at James for being so besotted with Isabella that he would brush aside Catherine's wishes, to the point that she has to struggle physically against both Thorpes in order to get free--and he still seems to think it is her fault for being "obstinate." Mr. Tilney is not just a contrast to Thorpe as a suitor but to James as a brother.

  2. One can only hope that John Thorpe is going to get his comeuppance in the worst possible way - loathsome creature. And if I had any positive feelings for Isabella they disappeared very quickly. What the idiot James sees in her is beyond me.
    Catherine did seem so alone but at least it forces her into independent action.

  3. The scenes with Thorpe not stopping the carriage and when he goes ahead and cancels on Miss Tilney for Catherine were scary. Just wow, what a ridiculous psycho. Serous boundary issues, like a man born destined for a restraining order.

    The castle isn't real? That's so funny. Either it continues to point to Thorpe's craziness or he's a little dumb too.

    I'm not quite sold on Tilney either. He doesn't seem to be taking anything seriously. Catherine does seem to be completely blind to any flaws he may have, which even if he is interested in her, could still cause some issues.

  4. +JMJ+

    Jennifer: When I was studying Northanger Abbey in a paper on Genre, the lecturer pointed out that John Thorpe's abduction of Catherine is very much a farcical version of all the heroine abductions in real Gothic novels.

  5. I remember the first bit of Northanger being a little slow but by about halfway, I was really invested in the characters and looking forward to seeing what happened next.

    This is a great book.