I've been a fan of Jane Austen for almost six years now. I've read Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Lady Susan. (Persuasion is my favorite and best, by the way. Emma is probably my least favorite.)
For many, many years I was decidedly NOT a fan of Dickens. Why?! Well, I had been
No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her.
I love to reread books. And I love to write new reviews of the books I reread. In the case of Northanger Abbey, I get to see how much I've changed as a reader. I can't believe that just a couple of years ago I thought that this Austen book was "just okay" and "not one of my favorites." That I didn't find the romance between Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland to have any spark or sizzle. You can say my opinions on this one have changed considerably!!! For one, Henry Tilney is now one of my favorite, favorite, favorite Austen heroes. And I've come to find the whole novel--not just the first chapter--delightful and charming and delicious and oh-so-satisfying. One of those novels where I could almost open it to any page, start reading, and find myself thinking, "Oh I love that part!"
And then there is the Thorpe family. Isabella Thorpe befriends Catherine quickly and enthusiastically. You'd think they'd been best friends for years and years instead of just ten minutes. There's something almost desperate about how Isabella clings to Catherine at the first. Like she just has to have someone to talk with, to gossip with. And what can I say about her brother John? I truly think that even if he hadn't been a liar, hadn't been so selfish, hadn't been so weird, Catherine would still have never considered him as a love interest. Because. It was always ever Tilney in her thoughts, in her heart. She spent her time with John Thorpe wishing that she was somewhere else, with someone else! Unlike the brother-sister team in Mansfield Park--Mary and Henry Crawford--I feel no sympathy for John Thorpe. He's just not hero material.
So the plot of Northanger Abbey is relatively simple. But I found it oh-so-satisfying. Just a joy to read this one.
"She had reached the age of seventeen without having seen one amiable youth who could call forth her sensibility; without having inspired one real passion, and without having excited even any admiration but what was very moderate and very transient. This was strange indeed! But strange things may be generally accounted for if their cause be fairly searched out. There was not one lord in the neighborhood; no, not even a baronet. There was not one family among their acquaintances who had reared and supported a boy accidentally found at their door; not one young man whose origin was unknown. Her father had no ward, the the squire of the parish no children. But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way."
The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a dazzling brilliancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been conducted.
Did I love Pickwick Papers? Yes. Did I love it as much as Our Mutual Friend or Bleak House? Well, I'm not sure I could honestly say that I love it that much. But the subject matter seems to be much cheerier than his other works. Pickwick Papers focuses on a circle of friends. Mr. Pickwick, of course, is at the center of this circle. Mr. Snodgrass, Mr. Winkle, Mr. Tupman are fellow Pickwickians. They accompany him on some of his journeys. They witness some of these adventures. They lead the group into some trouble, into some fun. Mr. Winkle is probably the most important of his friends.
But the character that I came to love the most--that is if I had to choose just one--would be Sam Weller. Sam Weller is a man we meet in one of the adventures, a man that becomes Mr. Pickwick's valet, a man that becomes a true friend when Mr. Pickwick's life turns a bit topsy-turvy.
I enjoyed this one. I enjoyed the characters and character sketches. I didn't love *every* story within The Pickwick Papers. There were some stories, some asides, that just weren't for me. In his adventures, Mr. Pickwick was collecting stories from others, so Mr. Pickwick would meet someone new, and often times, that someone new had a story or two to share with his new friend. Some of the chapters were quite funny. And The Pickwick Papers does have a little bit of romance--just not with Mr. Pickwick in the lead!
For the most part, I enjoyed this one. It made me smile in many, many places. I would recommend it.
There are very few moments in a man's existence, when he experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat. (62)
Out came the chaise -- in went the horses -- on sprung the boys -- in got the travellers. (122)
© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews