Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: Read-Along Week 2

I’m participating in the March Read-Along of Northanger Abbey hosted by Amber over at Seasons of Humility. We’re already in chapter 10! This discussion post covers chapters 4-10.ย 

Northanger Abbey Read-Along Graphic 2016 (2)

Discussion Format: One favorite quote, some general impressions, and three questions for each week’s reading.

Favorite Quotes

Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world. -chapter 6

Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter. -chapter 10

General Impressions

As Amber noted, Catherine seems to be drawn away or distracted from her desires at every turn in these chapters. I find it interesting that Catherine met Mr. Tilney in chapter 3 and didn’t have any real interaction again with him until chapter 10. Maybe Austen wanted the reader to miss him or cheer Catherine on with a little absence? Or it’s a lesson in patience for Catherine. Either way, I’m glad she has met with him again. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Thorpes are proving to be a bother. While they are, at least, an acquaintance for Catherine to have in Bath, I’m thinking their motives are not for friendship and kindness but are instead self-focused. And is it just me, or does it seem odd that Catherine’ s brother, James, is staying with the Thorpes instead of spending time or lodging with Catherine? (I know he’s obviously infatuated with Isabelle, but still…)

Now for my even more random thoughts. In chapter 5, there is mention of the Crescent (I think referring to this popularย Royal Crescent area). And, in chapter 11, we see mention of a castle and other place names. My question is this: did people of that era get excited about mentions of familiar places like I think we do today? Totally random, but I’d like to think they appreciated Austen including them and maybe thought: “oh, I’ve been there!”

Questions

1. Is Isabella a friend or a “frenemy“? Do you think there’s the seed of a genuine friendship between her and Catherine, or is Isabella only loyal to her own ambitions?

First impressions made me think she would be somewhat of a friend, but now I’m leaning towards frenemy. She is not sincere in her attentions toward Catherine (like ignoring her to talk with James Morland, etc.), and I think Catherine is just a means to get to James. Or, Isabelle is treating Catherine as a friend because she has no better acquaintance to spend time with. Poor Catherine! It makes me feel for her and wish she was not so trusting of Isabelle (because she is so innocent, I don’t think she comprehends the deceit or insincerity of the Thorpes).

2. Let’s talk about John Thorpe, whose presence is obviously a problem! How would you advise Catherine in her interactions with Mr. Thorpe?

Run. Away. Now. hehe ๐Ÿ˜‰

All he talks aboutย are his carriage, horses, and money. Really, Catherine doesn’t need to associate with him beyond acquaintance. Like I’ve said, he and his sister seem very self-centered and I don’t think they will be a good influence or example for Catherine.

3. Do you agree with Mr. Tilney’s comparisons between dancing and marriage? And do you consider dancing an important component of romance?

His comparisons are so interesting! I had not thought of connecting the two in quite that way. It’s definitely a passage to come back to and consider after the book’s over. As for the second question, I have to agree with Kara. Iย don’t consider it a priority today. For the Regency era, I’m sure it was an important part of a social relationship for many couples– ย I will defer to another Austen heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, in suggesting that dancing is the best way to encourage affection.

Head over to Amber’s Week 2 post for everyone’s answers/links to other posts & to enter the fun GIVEAWAY !

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3 thoughts on “Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: Read-Along Week 2

  1. Oh, I like that, “Run. Away. Now.” Isn’t it so true? Poor Catherine is so naive that I fear for her where the Thorpes are concerned, they will eat her alive! Love the reference to Elizabeth Bennett where “dancing is the best way to encourage affection” and the idea of the people of the era saying, “oh, I’ve been there!” What fun ideas! Great answers Courtney!

    • Thanks so much, Julie! The Thorpes just seem more menacing as the story goes. At least Catherine is starting to realize it, I think!

  2. I agree with Julie – that’s great advice for Catherine regarding Thorpe, haha! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I also agree with Julie regarding your other awesome observations. I hadn’t even thought of that, but you know, I bet you’re right about readers getting excited when they came across familiar places in the story! I think that must be part of human nature: to put ourselves in the story and to see how the things we read and hear and observe intersect with our own experiences. Perhaps the stories they read made it more commonplace to come across settings they recognized…but still, that would make it fun to picture the story unfolding in places you know and love. ๐Ÿ™‚

    ~Amber

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