Portland Ho! Off to the Jane Austen (JASNA) Conference 2010

I am all anticipation! Tomorrow (now today) I will be on my way to the Jane Austen conference in Portland to celebrate three days of total Austen immersion. Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery, Mayhem and Muslin in Portland begins officially on Friday, October 29th and runs through Sunday, October 31th.

This is my first JASNA conference. After years of hearing it praised to the skies, I too will be one of the happy revelers, attending Plenary speakers and Break-out sessions on the most interesting of topics (Henry Tilney), shopping like Mrs. Allen on Milsom Street and meeting for the first time, many of my online Janeite friends who have until this opportunity, remained cybered.

My amiable roommate Janeite Deb of Jane Austen in Vermont is already in Oregon, having traveled in style with her husband and dog across country in their elegant equipage, the Airstream. I am so looking forward to meeting her. She is a JASNA conference veteran, and has graciously promised to show this rookie the ropes.

After registration, and unpacking by the maid of all work, Deb and I shall be hotfooting it to the Portland Public Library to see the exhibit (especially created for the descending Janeites) of Jane Austen first editions. Then it’s off to dinner with whoever will have me, followed by a Social Hour and a performance by actress Angela Barlow, “Jane Austen & Character: An Actor’s View.” Delightful. I love theatricals even though they make Fanny Price squeamish.

My trip by train journey tomorrow morning should be relaxing and I plan to listen to my Naxos Audiobooks recording of Northanger Abbey, read by the Incomparable Juliette Stevenson to put me in the mood. I have been frantically packing tonight, needing to use my largest piece of luggage to fit everything in. We do like to travel with all the comforts of home and a full wardrobe (not quite the Queen arriving for a state visit, but close). I was relieved after stepping on the scale that I have not exceeded weight limits. Oh joy! I actually have ten pounds to spare, and can make up the deficit with purchases.

I will be reporting in daily, so do check back for the latest news and hopefully some photos. I just received an email from Diana Birchall who reports that the weather is fair and warm and not raining at present.

‘She hoped to be more fortunate the next day; and when her wishes for fine weather were answered by seeing a beautiful morning, she hardly felt a doubt of it; for a fine Sunday in Bath empties every house of its inhabitants, and all the world appears on such an occasion to walk about and tell their acquaintance what a charming day it is.’ The Narrator on Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey Chapter 5

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

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Northanger Alibi, by Jenni James – A Review

What qualifies a story as a retelling of a Jane Austen novel? Reverent adherence to Austen’s plot line? Faithful interpretation of characterization?  Emulation of her prose style? I asked myself these questions several times while reading Jenni James’ new novel Northanger Alibi, the first book in her Austen Diaries series of contemporary counterparts to Austen’s six classic novels. At what point does an Austen retelling diverge so far that it is not a retelling at all? And, more importantly, does it really matter? This led me to evaluate my Janeitehood. Am I a Formidable, or an Iconoclastic Austen sequel reader? Honestly, if you can answer these questions immediately, you will know if you want to read this novel or not. I could not decide, so I continued reading.

Claire Hart is a sixteen year old country girl from New Mexico whose never been kissed. Like any teenager she’d like it to be otherwise. She is Twi-hard to the extreme having read the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer numerous times, seen the movies and obsessed over its heroes Edward Cullen and Jacob Black beyond the point of redemption. She is confident that she is now an expert on vampires and werewolves and can spot them on sight. When she and her sister Cassidy are given the chance to travel to Seattle with family friends for a summer holiday she is ecstatic to be near the epicenter of the Twi-world, Forks, Washington. Her trip to the Emerald City takes an interesting turn when she is introduced to Tony Russo, a handsome young man who likes to tease her, is interested in fine fashion, uses the word nice frequently and according to Claire’s first impression is definitely a vampire. Next she meets tall, dark and overbearing Jaden Black who is Quileute, the same local Native American tribe as the Twilight character Jacob and therefore must also be a werewolf. Everything she experiences is seen through the Gothic prism of Twilight characters and she is certain that her deductions are correct. Her sister is skeptical until she too starts reading the addictive novels that Claire has brought along with her. As both of Claire’s new supposedly paranormal male friends vie for her affections, she must learn to distinguish between fiction and reality and to trust her own instincts in matters of the heart.

Northanger Alibi is a charming tale written for a pre-teen audience craving more vampire and werewolf fare after reading the sensationally popular Twilight series. As such, it gently mocks the genre and its obsessive fans while following its heroine in her first experiences with love and romance. The concept of combining Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, a parody of the melodramatic Gothic fiction so popular in Austen’s time, with the hugely successful modern Gothic tale Twilight was intriguing to me. The story had a promising beginning and then wanders away from Austen’s classic tale to the author’s unique plot and characterizations. Her hero and heroine do have similarities to Austen’s Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney: she is impressionable, naive and obsessed with Gothic fiction; he teases, likes fashion and the word nice, but beside a few other plot comparisons and character allusions, that is just about as close as it gets to the original. The ending brings us back to some resemblance of Austen’s story, but by then this reader was baffled.

Why am I picking at this funny and exuberant debut novel written by a promising new author you ask? Because of how it has been marketed. “This modern Gothic remake of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, with a nod to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, will leave you in stitches.” The Formidable in me must warn readers who purchase this book because of the Jane Austen connection that they will find very little Abbey in this Northanger. On the other hand, the Iconoclast in me admires the author’s energy and creativity, and blames her editor and publisher for not pointing out the egregious omissions and addressing them. Promoting this book as a retelling of Austen’s novel is misleading. Promoting this book as a Twilight inspired story for pre-teens pairs the author’s creative choices with her target audience. Northanger Alibi is a great concept novel and a fun read for those interested in Twilight, but not the most rewarding fare for the Janeite who is expecting more than a passing resemblance to the original story.

2 out of 5 Regency Stars

Northanger Alibi: The Austen Diaries, by Jenni James
Valor Publishing Group, Orem, Utah
Hardcover, text (310) pages
ISBN: 978-1935546153

Additional Reviews

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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Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen (Naxos AudioBooks), read by Juliet Stevenson – A Review & Giveaway

Northanger Abbey is the exuberant lesser-known child of Jane Austen’s oeuvre. Even though it was her first novel to be completed and sold in 1803, much to Austen’s bemusement it was never published and languished with Crosby & Co for thirteen years until she bought it back for the ten pounds that the publisher had originally paid. It was finally published posthumously together with Persuasion in late 1817. If its precarious publishing history suggests it lacks merit, I remind readers that in the early 1800’s many viewed novels as lowbrow fare and unworthy of serious consideration. In “defense of the novel” Austen offered Northanger Abbey as both a parody of overly sensational Gothic fiction so popular in the late eighteenth-century and a testament against those opposed to novel reading. Ironically, Austen pokes fun at the critics who psha novel writing by cleverly writing a novel defending novel writing. Phew! In a more expanded view, it is so much more than I should attempt to describe in this limited space but will reveal that it can be read on many different levels of enjoyment for its charming coming of age story, astute social observation, allusions to Gothic novels and literature, beautiful language and satisfying love story. I always enjoy reading it for the sheer joy of its naïve young heroine Catherine Morland, charmingly witty hero Henry Tilney and the comedy and social satire of the supporting characters.

It is believed that Jane Austen wrote many of her first works for the entertainment of her family and would read them aloud for their opinion and enjoyment. It is not hard to imagine that Northanger Abbey was presented to her family in this manner. The language and phrasing lend itself so freely to the spoken word, almost like a stage play, that I was quite certain that an audiobook would be a great enhancement to the text. Add to that the talent of a creative narrator and you have a great combination for several hours of entertainment ahead of you. I adore audiobooks and listen to them in the car during my commute to work. This Naxos AudioBooks recording is read by the acclaimed British stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson whose performance as the acerbic Mrs. Elton in the 1996 movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma was amazingly, as outrageously funny as Austen’s insufferable character. Stevenson’s reading did not disappoint and far exceeded my expectations. She added just the right amount of irony and humor to the reading that I was never in doubt that it is a burlesque of campy Gothic fiction or other overly sentimental novels popular in Jane Austen’s day. Her choice of characterizations was imaginative and captivating. Hearing her interpretation of the emptiness of Mrs. Allen and her frivolous distinction for fashion, Isabella Thorpe and her shallow endearments, and Henry Tilney with his knack for reading and adapting to different personalities with wit and charm, I have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the novel and recommend it highly.

“And what are you reading, Miss — ?” “Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language.” Ch 5

5 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen, read by Juliet Stevenson
Naxos AudioBooks USA (2006)
Unabridged (7) CD’s 8h 17m
ISBN: 978–9626344279

GIVEAWAY CONTEST

Enter a chance to win one copy of a Naxos AudioBooks recording of Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey by leaving a comment by midnight PST February 23, 2010, stating who is your favorite character in the novel or movie adaptation of  Northanger Abbey. Winners will be announced on February 24th, 2010. Shipping to the continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Cover image courtesy of Naxos AudioBooks © 2006; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2010, Austenprose.com

Northanger Abbey (2007) Encore on Sunday

Don’t miss the encore presentation of Northanger Abbey (2007) on Masterpiece Classic PBS Sunday, February 14th 9:00 – 10:30 PM (check your local listings). This adaptation by screenwriter Andrew Davies stars Felicity Jones as Jane Austen’s idealistic and naïve heroine Catherine Moreland and JJ Feild as the charming and witty hero Henry Tilney. 

Northanger Abbey is one of Jane Austen’s most overlooked novels, but contains some great dialogue by Henry Tilney and a heroine in Catherine that most ladies will smypathize with as she ventures into society in Bath for the first time and embarks upon romance. This adaptation is both lively and beautifully filmed. 

When it originally aired in the UK in 2007 Carey Mulligan, who portrays Isabella Thorpe, was a relative unknown British actress who had a supporting role in this movie. She has since becoming the darling of British film and awarded a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for her role in An Education. What this adaptation lacks in Austen’s beautiful language it makes up for in style and charm. Enjoy! 

Why not spend Valentine’s day with Jane Austen’s ultimate hero, Henry Tilney? *swoon* Join us on Tweetgrid  or your favorite Twitter aggregator for a an informal bicoastal Northanger Abbey Twitter party during the Masterpiece Classic viewing 9-10:30 eastern and pacific times. Use hashtag #emma_pbs from the last Emma party. Enjoy!

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Collector’s Library Re-issues Jane Austen Classics

Collector's Library Banner

Great news for Jane Austen readers and book collectors. The Collector’s Library, a UK publisher has re-issued their popular and distinctive editions of Jane Austen’s six major novels. These compact 5.9 x 4 inch volumes are beautifully designed for easy handling and include these great features: 

  • Full-cloth hardcover bindings
  • Ribbon markers
  • Head and tail bands
  • Gilt edges
  • Classic illustrations by Hugh Thomson

Sense and Sensibility (Collector's Library) 2009Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by Henry Hitchings
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson

Two sisters of opposing temperament but who share the pangs of tragic love provide the subjects for Sense and Sensibility. Elinor, practical and conventional, the epitome of sense, desires a man who is promised to another woman. Marianne, emotional and sentimental, the epitome of sensibility, loses her heart to a scoundrel who jilts her. True love finally triumphs when sense gives way to sensibility. ISBN: 978-1904633020 

Pride and Prejudice (Collector's Library) 2009Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by Henry Hitchings
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson 

A tour de force of wit and sparkling dialogue, Pride and Prejudice shows how the headstrong Elizabeth Bennett and the aristocratic Mr. Darcy must have their pride humbled and their prejudices dissolved before they can acknowledge their love for each other. ISBN-13: 978-1904633013 

Mansfield Park (Collector's Library) 2009Mansfield, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by Nigel Cliff
Illustrations by Hugh Thomson  Park

Mansfield Park is a novel about town and country, surface dazzle and lasting values. Fanny Price, a poor relation, is brought up at the wealthy Bertrams’ country house and falls for Edmund, the younger son. Their lives are disrupted, however, by the arrival of the worldly Mary Crawford and her brother Henry. With her usual psychological insight and attention to detail, Jane Austen paints an irresistibly lifelike portrait of shifting values and split loyalties. ISBN: 978-1904633297 

Emma (Collector's Library) 2009Emma, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by David Pinching
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson 

When Emma Woodhouse sets out on a career of match-making in the little town of Highbury she manages to cause confusion at every step. Jane Austen was particularly proud of Emma, in which she takes apart the desires and foibles of small-town society with unnerving accuracy. ISBN: 978-1904633006 

Northanger Abbey (Collector's Library) 2009Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by David Pinching
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson 

Northanger Abbey tells the story of Catherine Morland, a naive young woman whose perceptions of the world around her are greatly influenced by the romantic gothic novels to which she is addicted. When she moves to Bath she sees mystery and intrigue all around her. This is one of Austen’s early works, a broad comedy about learning to distinguish between fiction and reality. ISBN: 978-1904633303 

Persuasion (Collector's Library) 2009Persuasion, by Jane Austen
With an Afterword by Henry Hitchings
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson 

Jane Austen’s final novel, her most mature and wickedly satirical, is the story of Anne Elliott, a woman who gets a second chance at love. To achieve happiness she must learn to trust her own feelings and resist the social pressures of family and friends. ISBN: 978-1904633280 

Enjoy!

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

Austen at Large: Oh Henry! What a good Valentine

Henry Tilney Valentine 

Henry Tilney would be a wonderful Valentine I believe. Not to endorse the completely commercialized holiday but I do want to take this chance to talk about one of my favorite men in Jane Austen’s works. Henry Tilney is delightful from the first time we meet him in Northanger Abbey. He is a dutiful bother which I think says more about his character than almost anything else. He is a reader and an intelligent man. Henry also has a wonderful sense of humor and though he seems to be picking on Catherine and teasing her I think it very believable and endearing. Henry Tilney is the type of young man that many girls want to meet. He is handsome, clever, loyal and funny, an all around great nice guy!

Many girls in my class have been swooning over Mr. Tilney and one of his best qualities seems to be his attentions to his sister. Now by today’s standards he might be considered to be a little meterosexual but Mrs. Allen is very taken in by his knowledge of muslin. He is very attentive to his sister and we can suspect that he is Elanor’s only support in her difficult family. My mother always say that, “you can tell how a man will treat his wife by how he treats his mother“. Since the Tilneys mother has died some years ago, we can now look at how he treats his sister. He is a dutiful, and entertaining brother by all accounts. He goes walking with Eleanor almost every morning, thus showing his commitment. I am sure a young man in Bath can find other things to do for many mornings but he wants and does go walking with his sister.

One of the most appealing things to me about Mr. Tilney is that he is a reader and not ashamed of it! Mr. Tilney can hold conversations about countless books and even novels! I think that Henry Tilney defending novels is one of the cutest parts of the novel. Henry says,

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember finishing it in two days – my hair standing on end the whole time.””Yes,” added Miss Tilney, “and I remember that you undertook to read it aloud to me.”

I can just Henry reading it aloud, with pure enjoyment. He would not take it to seriously or write it off as silly nonsense. He is thoughtful yet not didactic. Henry shows good judgment in is praise of novels (since he is a character in one!).

One aspect of Henry’s personality which I find to be charming, yet that others have criticized, is his sense of humor and his teasing of Catherine. Ok, so admit I am not exactly the type of girl who likes to be teased, but Catherine doesn’t always know when he is being serious and when he is joking and yet she is still enamored with him. If Catherine doesn’t mind the teasing, which she doesn’t in the end because she ends up marrying him, then I don’t either! He is also jealous of Catherine talking to Mr. Thorpe and I would not have pegged Mr. Tilney to be the jealous type but he is when Catherine’s attention is divided from him. Henry’s sense of humor shows his good nature, mild manners and that he is still young at heart.

Henry Tilney as ElvisWhen my friend and I were discussing Mr. Tilney we ended up concluding that Henry Tilney is one of those male leads that can make you giggly. He has a twinkle in his eye and a sense of fun which makes him so endearing to youth. We can see why Catherine likes him. He is also steadfast which I think Austen required in her true heroes. Though Mr. Tilney does do a lot of teasing and we can’t always tell what he is thinking, I think he would be a wonderful Valentine.

Till next time! We have begun reading Pride and Prejudice in class and I can’t wait to talk about it!

Virginia Claire

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.

Austen at Large: Isabella Thorpe as a modern blogger!

Northanger Abbey, Vintage Classics (2008)In this past week I have been finishing Northanger Abbey and as wonderful as the romance is in it, I think one of the most important lessons is about friendship. Catherine learns throughout the novel how to better read people, in particular her friends. She starts out completely fooled by Isabella Thorpe. Catherine thinks that they have a mutual friendship while Isabella is most likely just using Catherine to get closer to her brother James. For me Isabella has always been that friend that every young girl has. She is completely self consumed, silly, hyper sensitive and mellow dramatic. (What 16 year old hasn’t known someone like this?). Isabella’s false friendship with Catherine revolves around Gothic novels, shopping and young men. All of which point out, though slowly to Catherine, Isabella’s failure as a true friend.

In thinking about Isabella this week, my Jane Austen class was writing short papers on topics of our choice for Northanger Abbey. One of my friends Maggie Lally, decided to make a modern day Isabella. Her reincarnated Isabella was a teen blogger who oozed about everything from shopping to young men. The new “Bella” had most of my Jane Austen class roaring with laughter when Maggie read it aloud so I thought I would pass it on to the world at large. Maggie was so nice to let me share this wither everyone and I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I did. It was pretty clever!

Maggie says of Isabella; “It seems that, given her love for both fashion and creating drama, she might best appear in the modern world as a teenaged blogger, such as xx_cutiepie22_xx, a “writer” on the fictitious site http://www.blogalot.com. Evidence of xx_cutiepie22_xx resembling Isabella Thorpe is as follows in this selected blog entry

Modern Day Isabella Thorpe

March 10th, 200-

Title: OMG!!!!!!!!1!!! New friendzzzzz!!!!!!!1

So, like, I was totally bummed when Mom said that we had to travel so she could “get over” Dad… like, I don’t get it, but whatev. At least I got some new clothes and stuff. I spent a ton of my money at like my two favorite stories EVER, Sephora and Victoria’s Secret. Like, OMG, I could totally shop there every day! Both places, I mean, cause like, they make me look so amazing and really, my sisters are just OK next to me. Daddy always said I was the pretty one, so I’m glad that Mom’s letting me spend his money… I just have to like find a guy that will let me spend his money too, cause, like, what else are boyfriends for????

So then, I get to go shopping and when I get back she’s all like “hey we’re going to Bath, which is a spa town” and I was all excited because, like, um the spa? Fabulous! I’ll come back looking better than I usually do! But then Mom was all, no, it’s the ancient city with “healing waters”-whatever, I am so not there for that. And the club scene is pretty happenin’ too and that will keep me busy. She said there’s like, a ton of shops and stuff too, so I can look totally HAWTTTTTT.

BTW, I totally met this really sweet girl, Catie, the other day. She’s pretty, like, you know, innocent, cause I think she came from one of those, you know, really big homeschooled families or something, because, like, she doesn’t know anything about fashion or what life is like in her little country town. It’s kinda a bummer, but then, like, it’s kinda fun too because I get to tell her, like, everything. I totally think we’re gonna be BFF, but maybe that’s just cause most of the people here are totally too full of themselves and like, I don’t know many people yet. So we get together to hang out every day because, like, seriously, we don’t have much else to do. I mean, my feet start hurting after all the walking I do here-shopping takes so much out of me. For realz.

I guess that’s all for now. We’re gonna go hike for a while with my brother Jack and her brother, Jimmy, who is so totally GORGEOUS! He’s an absolute babe and I think he’s got money too-apparently their family is rich, so that whole ton of kids thing is just cause the parents are weird.

Xoxo, Bella.

EDIT: OMG!!!1!! I totally hate Catie right now! She’s totally unfair cause, like, she was supposed to go hang out with this super rich girl named Eleanor (like, for real? Who names their kid that? Her parents obviously hate her) and we were all gonna go for a drive, me and Jack and Jimmy (BTW, I totally think that Jimmy is gonna ask me out, like to be his girlfriend for real, which would be totally amazing, cause like I said, he’s a babe), but Jack threw a total hissy fit because, like, it’s unfair for him to be alone while Jimmy and I are gazing into each other’s eyes (we’re going to have beautiful babies, like, I swear!) and I totally see his point, but stupid Catie wouldn’t give in and was all “oh, no I need to do this. I like Eleanor” blah blah blah. She’s just selfish and self-centered because even when I told her that we were BFF and that, OMG, I just couldn’t go without her, she insisted on having things her way. I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE her!!!!!!1!!!!1!!!!!!

Xoxo, Bella

Guest blogger Maggie Lally

Guest blogger Maggie Lally

As the blog entry demonstrates, young women of Isabella Thorpe’s temperament still exist, since phony, fashion-conscious girls did not cease to exist after Jane Austen’s day. Bloggers like xx_cutiepie22_xx demonstrate, however ignorant they might be of Austen’s characters, that the fictional characters bear great resemblance to real life characters.

Austen was not writing merely of Bath society but showing the ignorance and folly of youth. Overall I loved Maggie’s Bella. I can just see her typing away on a blog pouring over gossip columns much like Isabella Thorpe poured over the Bath Arrivals book! Guess the world really doesn’t change. Until next week!

Virginia Claire

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.

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