I figured it is a high time for another Heidi-synopsis of a book/movie from ridiculously long lists I've created for myself. And as a while back Mary has asked me to do summaries of Austen's works, and this is an Austen blog, I thought I'd go with that. But which one to do? While that could be a hard one to decide, I made it simple in deciding to go in the order that Austen wrote them. Yes, yes--any excuse to talk about my favorite Austen hero.
Catherine Morland. Reads novels. Gothic novels. And with an overactive imagination, well, we can all see what trouble that is going to cause. She comes from a very large family, and was "lucky" to be one of the oldest of the children. Hers is a home definitely full of love and happiness. Yet it is still a life of modest means in which the family makes ends meet, knows no extravagances, and likely will not see much if any extraordinary adventures that one in wealthier circumstances might experience.
And yet the Morlands are blessed with childless, wealthy neighbors. Thinking it would be companionship for them and fun for her, they invite Catherine to spend a season in Bath. This you must understand was beyond any hopes or dreams even Catherine herself could have daydreamed. So off to Bath with the Allens she goes.
Bath. The mini-London. Always something to do, places to go, people to see, and opportunities to be seen. Yet the Allens (and Catherine) know no one upon their arrival. Mr. Allen is typical of many men and just goes where ever that's away from his wife. :-) (He does his love his wife, by the way.) In the frequent lamentations of not knowing anyone, Mrs. Allen is accidentally knocked into, she worries there is a hole in her much-fussed over apparel, and a hero comes to her rescue--one who knows muslins.
Yes. Enter wonderful, magnificent, sarcastic, hilarious, intelligent, fun, simply amazing Henry Tilney. In his light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek manner he makes sure proper introductions are made and then asks our very own Catherine to dance. There will be many successive dances in Bath that will involve some of the best conversations ever between Henry and Catherine (all wit and humor being on his side, of course). Needless to say, Catherine falls for Henry.
Other characters come into the story, most particularly the Thorpe family. Mrs. Thorpe knew Mrs. Allen at school. This is plenty acquaintance to make the two instant best comrades in their Bath doings. Her daughter Isabella leeches--I mean latches--onto Catherine...along with her odious, obnoxious brother. John Thorpe is school-fellows with Catherine's brother James, and both come to Bath for the festivities. Airhead Isabella flirts her way to James and eventually succeeds. John pursues the ignorant Catherine who is working to become friends with Henry and his sister Eleanor. In spite of all of John (and Isabella's) manipulative machinations, Catherine is able to succeed in the friendships.
Oddly, the cold, domineering, frightening Tilney father (General Tilney) takes a liking to Catherine and begins to push Henry towards her. Isabella meanwhile is quite disappointed in the monetary hopes her engagement does not promise and begins her flirtations again in the absence of James, especially with Henry's brother Captain Tilney. Eventually the invitation to the Tilney family home is given and Catherine's adventures become even more exciting as she leaves the terrible influence of the Thorpes and heads to Northanger Abbey. There, as we are grateful to finally see, her imagination continues to run wild until Henry catches her in her folly and delivers an excellent rebuke.
Catherine in great shame and embarrassment realizes what a dolt she's been. And Henry--wonderful man that he is!--feels particularly bad in his chastisement of her and is dedicated in making her feel happier and less embarrassed. Soon a letter from brother James explains Isabella's silent correspondence--she has changed her affections and he has decided to break the engagement. Whatever Isabella's intentions, she later comes to regret her loss of James and writes to Catherine to plead for her intercession to help sway her brother's opinion of her. But Catherine has become a bit wiser under the good influence of Henry and Eleanor and finally sees Isabella for what she is.
Then comes the tragical moment when--while Henry is absent taking care of his parish business (yep! he's religious!)--General Tilney without any warning throws Catherine out of Northanger Abbey forcing her to return home without any escort. Though a truly awful and disgraceful deed, Catherine survives and returns to her loving family. Sadder but wiser definitely fits her, even though she has no idea why she has been sent from the Tilney home.
Her melancholy shows she still as very deep feelings for Henry, so there is great excitement for the reader when Henry actually shows up at the Morland home! In a contrived walk to the Allens for a visit, Henry explains it all. Greedy, odious John Thorpe had thought that Catherine was the wealthy Allens heir. In his bragging of her future wealth, the money-hungry General Tilney learned of it--revealing why he was truly interested in Catherine's association and why (after learning the truth) he suddenly dismissed her in anger.
The wonderful Henry has defied his father and come after Catherine out of a sense of duty and love. His realization of love is one of the funniest (to me) ways for a man to love a woman. But the two soon marry and the book ends with a very deep question for everyone to ponder.
That synopsis could never quite do justice to the sarcasm, humor, gothic mystery, and Henry Tilney. But it's at least a start of something. If you haven't read Northanger Abbey, what are you waiting for?! And if you have, well, read it again! You'll never regret it! For a work by a 17 year old, it's highly impressive. And if anyone has met my Henry Tilney, please send him my way!