When I’m With You (The Jane Austen Academy Series), by Cecilia Gray – A Review

When I'm with You, by Cecilia Gray (2013)From the desk of Lisa Galek:

I read a lot of young adult fiction and I notice that there’s often a tendency to feature a female main character who’s smart, sassy, and in-control. Of course, these self-confident heroines are important and lots of real-life girls can relate to them. But, some girls are a little less sure of themselves. A little more naïve and a little too trusting. In fact, that’s something that many women struggle with long after they leave high school. No one knew this better than Jane Austen. Her heroines fit into a huge range of personalities and life experiences. In When I’m With You, Cecilia Gray gives us an update on one of Jane’s most underutilized, yet relatable teenage characters, Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey

Kat Morley just knows that one day she’s gonna be a famous actress. She’s been the lead in five different productions at her high school, the Jane Austen Academy, so it can’t be long until her name is up in lights. When Kat’s classmate (aspiring actor, Josh Wickham) asks her to travel with him to the set of a movie he’s starring in over Christmas break, it’s practically her dream come true! Things get even better once Kat arrives and starts rubbing elbows with the stars. Izzy Engel is not only beautiful and famous but she’s also decided to befriend Kat! And Henry Trenton (son of Hollywood legend, Tom Trenton) has invited her out for hot cocoa! Swoon! Continue reading

Winner Announced in the Northanger Abbey (Naxos AudioBooks) Giveaway

It appears by your comments that Henry Tilney’s interest in muslin and charming demeanor are by far the most enjoyable aspect of Northanger Abbey! He is after all, Jane Austen’s most swoonable hero. Comments in favor of Catherine Morland were a close second, but what of one of my favs, the flippant Isabella Thorpe? 

The response to this giveaway of the Naxos AudioBooks edition of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey was fantastic. The lucky winner is in for 8 hours and 17 minutes of Juliet Stevenson reading one of Austen’s funniest novels. Here is the winner drawn at random: 

Corina

Congratulations to Corina. To claim your prize, please e-mail me at austenprose at verizon dot net by midnight PST on March 2nd, 2010. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Get your very own official Henry Tilney thinks I’m nice t-shirt from Austenish’s Janeite Supply Shop at CafePress

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The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, by Lauren Willig – A Review

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, by Lauren Willig (2009)In the fifth installment in her Pink Carnation Series, more Napoleonic espionage ensues as Lauren Willig spins her captivating tale of the exploits of Robert Lansdowne, the reluctant Duke of Dovedail, and his bookish young cousin Charlotte in The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. Set in England in 1803, Robert’s unexpected return to his ducal estate in Sussex after a decade in the Army in India rekindles Lady Charlotte’s idealistic fantasies. Fueled by her passion for romantic novels such as Evelina she is hopeful that Robert, her knight in shining amour, has come to rescue her from her from the embarrassment of three failed London seasons and her grandmother’s succession of unacceptable eligible bachelors. However, Robert’s main objective is not romance, but to track down the spy who murdered his mentor during the Battle of Assaye. Even though their reunion sparks a quick romance, Robert abruptly ends their relationship and departs for London in pursuit of the elusive spy whose signature scent is the heady and seductive night jasmine. Infiltrating the notorious Hells Fire Club, he is witness to opium induced orgies and the dissipation of London society – all in the name of duty and honor, mind you. Meanwhile, Charlotte acting as lady in waiting to Queen is witness to the madness of King George, or is she? With the aid of her friend Lady Henrietta Selwick, they undertake a bit of espionage of their own, uncovering a plot to kidnap the king. Robert and Charlotte must join forces to thwart the scheme, and learn to trust each again before they can catch a spy, and, re-fall in love. 

All of Willig’s stories in this series unfold as a parallel plot prompted by the investigation of contemporary scholar Eloise Kelly as she conducts her own historical research into the enigmatic British flower spies during the Napoleonic wars. The trail of research has led her to Colin Selwick the descendant of the Pink Carnation who holds the family archive, and her affections under his control. Having read all of the previous novels in the Pink Carnation series, I was uncertain if Willig could continue to pump out fresh and engaging stories to match the intrigue, humor, and suspense of her previous four efforts. In addition, the dubious claim in the publisher’s description of the book that “Pride and Prejudice lives on in Lauren Willig’s acclaimed Pink Carnation series” really shot up an eyebrow. Talk about hitching your star onto a bandwagon! This series is not a Jane Austen sequel, though she does amusingly nod at Austen through allusions to her characters and plot lines, especially in this novel in the early chapters with young, naïve and bookish Charlotte Lansdowne. Any reader of Northanger Abbey will immediately see the similarities to Catherine Morland and smile. But the rest of the characters and plotline is entirely Willig’s own skillful imaginings. 

Given my reservations upon reading this new release, I was happy to discover that I cherish it among the best in the series. Willig’s effervescent style in almost tongue-in-cheek in its playfulness. Her strength, however, lies in her rendering of her characters unique and endearing personalities. Like Austen, she chooses an array of foibles and follies in human nature illustrated in her secondary characters to frame her hero and heroine. Charlotte’s grandmother is a great example. 

“The Dowager Duchess of Dovedale, the woman who had launched a thousand ships—as their crews rowed for their lives in the opposite direction.  She inspired horses to rear, jaded roués to blanch beneath their rouge, and young fops to jump out of ballroom windows.  And she enjoyed every moment of it.” 

Even though I thoroughly enjoy her writing style, Willig does have a few weaknesses that I hope will improve with experience. She handles comedy, historical context, and dialogue beautifully, but like Austen’s complaint about her own darling child Pride and Prejudice, her plots lack the deep shade necessary to offset the light, bright, sparkly stuff. Not only would I like to see more romantic tension between her protagonists, a bit more dastardly doings in her villains would please me exceedingly. Just channel a bit of Dickens Lauren, and you will succeed. Furthermore, I enjoyed the historical plot line so much more than the contemporary fumbling of her Bridget Jones clone-ish Eloise, mostly due to the fact that I am just really tired of clueless young woman who are so insecure that a run in their nylons ruins their day. 

Reverently harkening to her predecessors Austen and Heyer, Willig is one talented author who I hope will enjoy a very long career. In addition to The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, the Pink Carnation series included The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, The Masque of the Black Tulip, The Deception of the Emerald Ring and The Seduction of the Crimson Rose. Her next novel in the series is The Betrayal of the Blood Lily is due out in January, 2010. If you are in the mood for a Regency era romantic spy comedy romp, I recommend this book highly. 

4 out of 5 Regency Stars 

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, by Lauren Willig
Dutton Adult, New York (2009)
Hardcover (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0525950967

Visit Lauren Willig’s beautiful website

Northanger Abbey: Henry Tilney – so becomingly important!

Illustration from Costume Parisien (1818)in the course of a few minutes, she found herself with Henry in the curricle, as happy a being as ever existed. A very short trial convinced her that a curricle was the prettiest equipage in the world; the chaise and four wheeled off with some grandeur, to be sure, but it was a heavy and troublesome business, and she could not easily forget its having stopped two hours at Petty France. Half the time would have been enough for the curricle, and so nimbly were the light horses disposed to move, that, had not the general chosen to have his own carriage lead the way, they could have passed it with ease in half a minute. But the merit of the curricle did not all belong to the horses; Henry drove so well – so quietly – without making any disturbance, without parading to her, or swearing at them: so different from the only gentleman-coachman whom it was in her power to compare him with! And then his hat sat so well, and the innumerable capes of his greatcoat looked so becomingly important! To be driven by him, next to being dancing with him, was certainly the greatest happiness in the world. The Narrator on Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 20 

Here’s the fangirl romantic tip of the week. Put a man in a greatcoat and half the room sighs. Jane Austen knew this and used it to her advantage, building Catherine Morland’s admiration and our confidence in her hero Henry Tilney. Yes, it was common for a Regency gentleman to own a greatcoat, but why talk about it so seductively?  “His greatcoat looked so becomingly important!” says it all. Authors and screenwriters take heed. Put your heroes in greatcoats whenever you need a romantic punch. Works for me every time.

*Illustration from Costume Parisien 1818

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Austen at Large: Catherine Morland is a delight!

Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey (2007)In my Jane Austen Seminar this semester we had been talking about Austen’s juvenilia for a while but a now have shifted our focus to Northanger Abbey. It was very interesting looking at the transition between a story like Love and Friendship to Northanger because we can pretty clearly see Austen’s growth as a novelist. I fall in love with Northanger Abbey more and more each time I read it. It is such a wonderful coming of age story. Catherine Morland is a charming heroine though from the very beginning of the novel Austen tells us that “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her.” (Chapter 1).  I love that Austen takes Catherine’s normalcy and turns it around to make her a heroine. For me what is so endearing about Catherine is the fact that I see her as almost every young girl. Who in high school or as a teen was not blinded by a friend or just naïve in general? Maybe I was just a little more personally sheltered until I hit college but I can see where Austen is coming from with Catherine’s growth. She grows up and begins to see the world a little more realistically.

 Katharine Schlesinger as Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey (1986)

Catherine Morland may at times get accused of being a goose by critics, but not this one! If she is a goose at all it is her goosey parts that I love the best. She is so easily teased by Mr. Tilney it is cute. One girl in my class pointed out that it was like being on a playground and a little boy was pulling your pigtails to get your attention. It is only when your mother tell you later that “he is doing that because he likes you” that it begins to make a little sense. I sometimes feel like Mr. Tilney is just pulling Catherine’s pigtails. He knows he is witty and clever so sometimes he talks over her head but he normally tries to explain it to her whether she gets it or not. A classic example of this is when they are dancing and Mr. Tilney makes the connection between Country dances and marriage. Mr. Tilney says,

“I consider a country-dance as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are the principal duties of both; and those men who do not choose to dance or marry themselves, have no business with the partners or wives of their neighbours.”

 “But they are such very different things!”

” – That you think they cannot be compared together.”

“To be sure not. People that marry can never part, but must go and keep house together. People that dance only stand opposite each other in a long room for half an hour.”

“And such is your definition of matrimony and dancing. Taken in that light certainly, their resemblance is not striking; but I think I could place them in such a view. You will allow, that in both, man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal; that in both, it is an engagement between man and woman, formed for the advantage of each; and that when once entered into, they belong exclusively to each other till the moment of its dissolution; that it is their duty, each to endeavour to give the other no cause for wishing that he or she had bestowed themselves elsewhere, and their best interest to keep their own imaginations from wandering towards the perfections of their neighbours, or fancying that they should have been better off with anyone else. You will allow all this?”

“Yes, to be sure, as you state it, all this sounds very well; but still they are so very different. I cannot look upon them at all in the same light, nor think the same duties belong to them.”

“In one respect, there certainly is a difference. In marriage, the man is supposed to provide for the support of the woman, the woman to make the home agreeable to the man; he is to purvey, and she is to smile. But in dancing, their duties are exactly changed; the agreeableness, the compliance are expected from him, while she furnishes the fan and the lavender water. That, I suppose, was the difference of duties which struck you, as rendering the conditions incapable of comparison.”

“No, indeed, I never thought of that.” (Chapter 10)

Illustration by C.E. Brock, Northanger Abbey, J.M. Dent & Sons, London (1908)This passage is rich with things to mention but what I want to point out is that Catherine does not really understand where Mr. Tilney is going with this. In fact it is hard of even the reader to understand but we can sort of see what he is getting at. Catherine’s misunderstanding of so many things around her can remind the reader (at least this reader) that the heroine is not so very different from herself. Catherine makes mistakes, misjudges people, is fooled by her supposed friends and can’t see things that are happening right in front of her and yet we still find her endearing, perhaps because Catherine seems so truly human and that’s what makes her a heroine. She is not a great beauty, or a great wit or anything really extraordinary and yet she seems delightful to us. My reason for falling in love with Catherine Morland is that though she is fooled she does has a strong resolution and can step up to the plate. When she is sent away from Northanger Abbey she is able to get herself home without any fainting fits, robberies or other calamities. Catherine is a fully competent heroine even if she is a little scatter brained at times…. But then again who isn’t?

Virginia Claire our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey Wrap Up: Giveaway Winners Announced!

“But now you love a hyacinth. So much the better. You have gained a new source of enjoyment, and it is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible. Besides, a taste for flowers is always desirable in your sex, as a means of getting you out of doors, and tempting you to more frequent exercise than you would otherwise take. And though the love of a hyacinth may be rather domestic, who can tell, the sentiment once raised, but you may in time come to love a rose?” Henry Tilney, Chapter 22 

Ahh… Henry Tilney is so wise. It is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible. As Catherine learned to love a hyacinth, I hope that readers have learned to love Northanger Abbey and gained a new source of enjoyment through the group read. For me, it was pure fun and a joy to write about. Jane Austen’s other major novels may get all the limelight, but I think it quite appropriate that it resides in a lower place like the spooky dungeons in the Gothic novels that it parodies. 

This is my second novel event here at Austenprose, and this time out I had some help from my friends with great guest blogs who added their expertise and humor to entertain us. A big thank you to all the guest bloggers. 

Amanda Grange: Henry Tilney’s Story

Diana Birchall: as Isabella Thorpe on Northanger movies

Margaret (Mags) Sullivan of AustenBlog: Henry Tilney the ultimate hero

Kali Pappas of Emma Adaptations & Strangegirl Designs: Fashion in the Northanger movies

James Jenkins of Valancourt Books: the ‘horrid novels’ of Northanger Abbey

Trina Robbins & Anne Timmons: Gothic Classics: Graphic Classics Volume 14 

An extra loud shout out to Ms Place (Vic) of Jane Austen’s World: for writing four blogs on Catherine Morland’s experience in Bath. Great job and thanks Vic. 

PRIZE WINNERS

And now for the fun stuff! Here are all the winners of the 16 prizes. Congratulations to all, and many thanks to all who participated. 

Day 01 – Oct 1             Northanger Abbey – OWC – Heather                      

Day 02 – Oct 2            Northanger Abbey – Penguin Classics – Ren

Day 04 – Oct 7            Northanger Abbey – Barnes & Noble Classics – Lucia

Day 06 – Oct 9            Northanger Abbey – Norton Critical Edition – Felicia  

Day 08 – Oct 14          Jane Austen in BathCourtney  

Day 10 – Oct 16          Jane Austen’s Guide to Good MannersEmily

Day 11 – Oct 19         Northanger Abbey Audio Unabridged – Janeen

Day 11 – Oct 19         Northanger Abbey Audio Abridged – Sylvia M.        

Day 12 – Oct 20         The Mysterious Warning – Valancourt Books – JaneFan  

Day 13 – Oct 21         Northanger Abbey Stage play – Carrie Oak Rise Cottage  

Day 15 – Oct 23         Jane Austen Entertains – Music CD – Joanna  

Day 16 – Oct 26         The Mysteries of Udolpho – OWC – Leah  

Day 17 – Oct 27         Gothic Classics: Graphic Classics Volume 14 Becky

Day 18 – Oct 28         Northanger Abbey – Broadview – Crazy_Spinster

Day 19 – Oct 29         The Mysteries of Udolpho – Penguin Classics – M

Day 20 – Oct 30         Jane Austen: Seven Novels – Barnes & Noble – Susan 

Winners – Your prompt reply is appreciated. You have one week to claim your prize! Please e-mail me, (austenprose at verizon dot net) before Saturday, November 8th, 2008. If I do not receive a response by a winner by that date, I will draw another name and continue until all of the prizes have a home to mail them to. Thanks again to everyone for your great contributions. Congrats to the winners, and enjoy! 

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey is officially concluded!

 

 

If you don’t read Northanger Abbey, Henry will know!

 

THE END 

 

Northanger Abbey Chapters 29-31: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 20 Giveaway

On entering the room, the first object she beheld was a young man whom she had never seen before. With a look of much respect, he immediately rose, and being introduced to her by her conscious daughter as “Mr. Henry Tilney,” with the embarrassment of real sensibility began to apologize for his appearance there, acknowledging that after what had passed he had little right to expect a welcome at Fullerton, and stating his impatience to be assured of Miss Morland’s having reached her home in safety, as the cause of his intrusion. The Narrator, Chapter 30 

Quick Synopsis 

Catherine is too wretched to be fearful of her journey home. She thinks only of Henry as she passes along the road that once took her to Woodston where she spent the happiest day of her life. She is anxious of his return to Northanger to find her gone, and her parent’s reaction when she appears unannounced. They welcome her warmly and hear the story, perplexed as she is over the general’s actions. Catherine writes to Eleanor of her safe arrival and returns the advance. She calls on the Allen’s who agree that the general acted oddly. Her mother notices that Catherine is restless and unproductive and thinks she has “been spoilt for home by great acquaintance.” Henry Tilney arrives to apologize for his father and explain that Catherine “was guilty only of being less rich than he had supposed her to be.” He has had a great argument with his father who ordered him to never see Catherine again. He proposes to Catherine who accepts. Mr. and Mrs. Morland give their consent contingent on his father’s approval. Eleanor marries her beau who was previously unacceptable until an “unexpected accession to title and fortune had removed all his difficulties.” Now a viscountess, her father is in a fit of good humor. She asks her father to forgive Henry, he agrees after learning that the Morland’s are not poor and Catherine will have a 3,000 pound dowry. They marry, the bells rang and everyone smiled. The narrator leaves it to the reader to decide if unjust interference is rather conductive to the strength of an attachment.

Musings 

Catherine’s sudden and unexplained ejection from Northanger sends her home in a tearful and wretched state. She only thinks of Henry as she passes down the same road that once took her to Woodson where she spent the happiest day of her life. She is anxious of other’s reactions when Henry arrives at Northanger to find her sent away, and for her parent’s when she arrives unannounced. After eleven hours on the road, she arrives at Fullerton. Though a true Gothic heroine would arrive home a countess in a chaise in four, our heroine sadly arrived in solitude and disgrace. Her family warmly greets her and “she found herself soothed beyond anything that she had believed possible.” At length she explained to her family what had happened, and they can not understand the general’s actions, “what could have provoked him to such a breach of hospitality, and so suddenly turned all his partial regard for their daughter? How comforting to return home after such unrest to be embraced by your family. Her mother philosophizes over her loss and hopes that “the next new friends you make I hope will be better worth keeping.” Catherine, in a pensive state can only think of Henry and that he might quickly forget HER.

She could never forget Henry Tilney, or think of him with less tenderness than she did at that moment; but he might forget her; and in that case, to meet – ! Her eyes filled with tears as she pictured her acquaintance so renewed; and her mother, perceiving her comfortable suggestions to have had no good effect, proposed, as another expedient for restoring her spirits, that they should call on Mrs. Allen. The Narrator, Chapter 29

When Catherine is restless and unproductive, her mother does not suspect love but thinks she has become a fine lady and has “been spoilt for home by great acquaintance” from her experience in Bath and Northanger. I had a good laugh at this. How little life has changed in two hundred years. Parent’s are still clueless and misread their children. What a surprise when Henry arrives. Let’s hope that this clues Mrs. Morland into their relationship.

Catherine meanwhile – the anxious, agitated, happy, feverish Catherine – said not a word; but her glowing cheek and brightened eye made her mother trust that this good-natured visit would at least set her heart at ease for a time, and gladly therefore did she lay aside the first volume of The Mirror for a future hour. The Narrator, Chapter 30

Henry is of course his charming self, and Mrs. Morland notices the change in her daughter. When he expresses a desire to pay his respects to the Allen’s seeking Catherine’s assistance to find the way, Mrs. Morland begins to understand the motive in his visit and consents to their walk. Once they are alone and can talk more freely, the truth starts to come out. He wastes no time and declares his sincere affection for Catherine and her heart in return was solicited. Hurrah! What a relief. Henry tells her that when he returned to Northanger, his father told him of her departure and ordered him to think of her no more. “Such was the permission upon which he had now offered her his hand.” He reveals to her relief that she had done nothing to offend the general and that she “was guilty only of being less rich than he had supposed her to be.” Being mistaken by her fortune and connections he had courted her acquaintance in Bath and solicited her company at Northanger. John Thorpe had informed him in Bath of his acquaintance and hopes of marrying her himself. Thorpe then proceeded to pump up her fortune from her father and legacy from the Allen’s. The general never doubted his source. Henry and Eleanor were astounded that their father’s interest in her and his command for Henry to attach her affections. John Thorpe later revealed to the General that he “confessed himself to have been totally mistaken in his opinion of their circumstances and character.” The general is enraged with everybody but himself. Catherine heard enough to “feel that in suspecting General Tilney of either murdering or shutting up his wife, she had scarcely sinned against his character, or magnified his cruelty.” Henry’s indignation of how Catherine had been treated rallied his honor and affections.

He felt himself bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing that heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no unworthy retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing decree of unjustifiable anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it prompted. The Narrator, Chapter 30

Swoon! If Catherine had been previously influenced by the drama and sentimentality of Gothic novels, his story and reactions must have sent her into ecstasy. She is now living the romance that she so craved, but as Henry had so wisely moralized to her previously, “our pleasures in this world are always to be paid for, and that we often purchase them at a great disadvantage.” Her happiness she will learn must be dearly paid for when her parent’s agree to the marriage contingent upon the approval of the general. What a road block. Henry is estranged from his father and it is not likely that he will apologize and make amends. They must wait for his change of heart which does not look promising considering his temperament. Only a miracle could soften his resolve.

The circumstance which chiefly availed was the marriage of his daughter with a man of fortune and consequence, which took place in the course of the summer – an accession of dignity that threw him into a fit of good humour, from which he did not recover till after Eleanor had obtained his forgiveness of Henry, and his permission for him “to be a fool if he liked it!” The Narrator, Chapter 31

Austen has added a great twist to the plot when all hope seemed against our happy couple when Eleanor marries her previously unacceptable beau, whose “unexpected accession to title and fortune had removed all his difficulties” placing the general in a fit of good humor! What luck! Her influence on her brother’s behalf is aided by her position as a viscountess, the fact that the Morland’s are neither necessitous or poor, and that Catherine’s dowry will be three thousand pounds. “Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang, and everybody smiled“, all within a twelvemonth of their meeting, despite being plagued by dreadful delays and the general’s cruelty.

To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced that the general’s unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience. The Narrator, Chapter 31

And so the story concludes happily, but with the narrator interjecting a bit of irony at the very end. Henry and Catherine have the blessing of their families, and we are supplied with a gentle zinger. What an appropriate and satisfying conclusion.

THE END

Further reading

Read Northanger Abbey Summary: Chapters 29-31

Read Northanger Abbey Quotes & Quips: Chapters 29-31

 

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 20 Giveaway

Jane Austen: Seven Novels – Library of Essential Writers Series (2006) 

By Jane Austen and includes the complete and unabridged editions of : Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Lady Susan

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of the Jane Austen Seven Novels (2006)

(US residents only)

Upcoming event posts 

Day 21 – Oct 31          Go Gothic Wrap-up

 

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose