Thursday, March 3, 2016

Northanger Abbey Read-Along: Week 1


Welcome to Week 1 of the Northanger Abbey read-along! You can learn more about our read-along plans in this invitation post.

Today we're going to discuss chapters 1-3. If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts below! Otherwise, feel free to check in later today or tomorrow morning after you've had a chance to read today's chapter. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

P.S. If you're a blogger, you're more than welcome to put together your own post using the button above and linking back to the Northanger Abbey read-along tag, if you'd prefer to participate in the discussion that way. 

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Northanger Abbey Chapters 1-3

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

Favorite Quote

"Now we shall soon be acquainted, as I am authorized to tease you on this subject whenever we meet, and nothing in the world advances intimacy so much." ~ Mr. Tilney

General Impressions

This will be my second time through Northanger Abbey, and I'm excited to get reacquainted with the characters and know them better because of our discussions! So far, I'm reading the book out loud, and I must say, the humorous commentary and conversations are quite enjoyable when spoken and heard. ;)

I love how Catherine's situation is introduced. Everything is quite...ordinary. Catherine is the heroine of her own story, but she doesn't have any "exceptional" qualities or extraordinary circumstances to make her tale exciting. Perhaps the modern equivalent would be a real-life YA heroine with no super powers, no guys competing for her affection, and no incredible destiny to save the world (see #RealisticYA).

I can totally relate to Catherine's experiences. Her first ball involves annoying crowds, a tragic lack of a dance partner, and no one to talk to but Mrs. Allen. And yet, the night isn't a total loss, because she overhears two gentlemen calling her "pretty."

It's the little compliments and attentions that we tend to hold dear...and it's amazing how even a small display of attention can turn the night around!

And then we meet Mr. Tilney in chapter 3...
He seemed to be about four or five and twenty, was rather tall, had a pleasing countenance, a very intelligent and lively eye, and if not quite handsome, was very near it.
He sounds like my kind of guy!

But what I really love about Tilney is the teasing. No one flirts in such an adorable and gentlemanly way like he does. ;) He pokes fun at convention, engages in witty banter, and makes Catherine laugh.

In my book, I'm quite pleased with these first impressions.

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in a separate blog post!

1. What do you find most endearing about Catherine's character? Do you consider her to be good heroine material?

2. What are your first impressions of Mr. and Mrs. Allen? What sort of impact do they have on Catherine?

3. Has Mr. Tilney already stolen your heart, or are you still forming your opinion of his character? Which of his positive or negative qualities stand out to you most? Do you consider him to be good hero material?

Giveaway!

Be sure to log your entries for the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win a DVD copy of Masterpiece's Northanger Abbey! (Giveaway open to US residents only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Join us next Thursday to chat about chapters 4-10!

18 comments:

Miranda Atchley said...

I think Catherine is the most relatable of all of Jane Austen's heroines I've read about so far. It's nice to read about a historical figure who isn't perfect.

I agree, reading the book as part of a group is so much more fun. When you know there will be discussion questions, it makes it easier to get into a book that otherwise would be a slower read. Not saying that Northanger Abbey is a bad read, because it is a good book, just that with the different writing style it can be a bit harder to read.

Here are my answers to questions! I like these questions a lot. :)
http://bit.ly/1QtSYP4

-Miranda Atchley

Julie said...

I agree that it is fun to read it as a group. It is definitely a bit slower than other more popular Austen books. Here are my answers in a post on my blog: http://myfavoritepastime.blogspot.com/2016/03/northanger-abbey-read-along-discussion-1.html

I'll enjoy reading everyone else's thoughts on the book so far. I think you had better first impressions than I do about the book Amber. I like your positives about the characters :) I'll be looking forward to continuing reading to see if my opinions change.

Julie @ My Favorite Pastime

Grace M said...

I'm really enjoying this book so far, and could easily see myself reading more than one chapter a day.

As for the discussion questions, first, I like how we're getting to see Catherine's first steps out into the world, getting compliments and the like, after having been such a plain girl. I can completely understand her at the moment she felt satisfied at simply being called "pretty."

I don't have too much of an opinion of the Allens, save they seem to be a couple who doesn't care what they have to go through to get stuff, including mingling at a party where they know no one! This amused me for some reason.

Hm, Mr. Tilney... I like his humor, and the quote you shared was probably my favorite. Perhaps he has begun to steal my heart, but I think I need to see more of him before I know. :-D

Jenni Elyse said...

I'm really enjoying this so far. It normally takes me a bit to get into classics, but I've been captured right from the start. I think it may be because we're introduced to Mr. Tilney so early on in the novel. I posted my answers to the questions on my blog.

Mary Horton said...

So far, I very much enjoy this book! In fact, I almost read another chapter today because I liked it so much. ^_^

I already feel like I can connect with the characters. Catherine has such a fresh, natural air to her. She seems genuine, pleasant, and innocent. I like how down-to-earth she feels.

And Mr. Tilney...ah, Mr. Tilney. I'm afraid he's run off with my heart already :P This is my first time reading the novel, but I can already tell I'm going to like him a lot. His open, teasing, cheerful manner is so refreshing.

One of my favorite parts is when Catherine almost asks Tilney how he can be so strange. XD I already love these two!

Carissa Miller said...

1. The fact that she's a book worm. And she's different from Jane's other heroines. I do consider her to be good heroine material because it shows that any girl can be a heroine.

2. That they tend to have a habit of thinking more about themselves. The impact they have Catherine is opening her up to new places beyond her small village.

3. Mr. Tilney has stole a bit of my heart and I am still forming my opinion of him. Right now no positive or negative qualities are standing and I do consider him to be good hero material.

Courtney Clark said...

Your favorite quote was one I highlighted, too!!!

And I appreciate how realistic Catherine's situation seems to be, too. Austen stories end up with a happily-ever-after ideal ending, but there is plenty of realism in her characters and societal situations.

My week 1 post: Northanger Abbey Week 1

Amber Stokes said...

Miranda,

So true! One of the most relatable things about her is that she acts/thinks her age, you know? She's naive and not super mature - but she's also very sweet and very easily pleased with life. :)

And I definitely agree with the things you said about reading a book like this as part of a group. To be honest, it's only recently that I've discovered I actually enjoy some classics. ;) (And even then, there aren't many I would pick up "for fun.") But I had to read classics for school, so this is kind of like that - knowing there will be "assignments" and deadlines. But of course, it's way more fun reading books with you guys than reading them as school projects. ;)

Will stop by your blog soon! So happy you liked the questions!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Julie,

Reading as a group is a lot of fun! I'm not sure I would have made it through Persuasion without our read-along last summer, even though I ended up really enjoying the read. But I find it easier to enjoy these stories in smaller chunks. :)

I confess I came to Northanger Abbey completely biased toward the story - in a good way! I fell in love with JJ Feild's Henry Tilney, so I was predisposed to love him in the book, too. ;) But it will be interesting to discuss the finer points of the story and see what our conclusions are!

Thank you for sharing your post link. Will visit soon! :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Grace,

I'm so glad to hear you're enjoying the story so far! The chapters are pretty quick, aren't they? :)

I love what you noted about Catherine. It's definitely fun to get to see her experience life outside her usual sphere for the first time. And I, too, can relate to her happiness and satisfaction with even the simplest of compliments regarding her looks. :)

"Amusing" is a perfect way to describe the Allens, LOL!

Fun to hear your first impressions of Tilney. His humor and lightheartedness are such endearing qualities. Will be curious to see how you like him moving forward!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Jenni,

Yay! That's awesome. :) And that's a great point - it's wonderful to be introduced to the hero early on. Will stop by your blog soon!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Mary,

Love your thoughts! And I'm so happy you're enjoying the book. :)

That's a great way to describe Catherine: fresh and natural. Her character is very down-to-earth and relatable, for sure. :)

I've only read one other Jane Austen book (Persuasion) - although I hope to read more - but I'm familiar with most of the stories based on the movie adaptations, and Tilney definitely stands out to me because of his humor and cheerful demeanor. While I can appreciate a brooding hero with a hidden heart of gold, there's something to be said for a man whose kind heart is visible right from the get-go!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Carissa,

All great points about Catherine's character! She's different, and the fact that she's so simple and relatable is inspiring to the reader. :)

Hmm...good point about the Allens, too! While they're helping Catherine and giving her more possibilities than she had before, Mr. Allen is off doing his own thing for the most part, and Mrs. Allen is a bit self-absorbed, especially when it comes to admiring her own fashion sense. ;)

Glad to hear Tilney has already stolen a bit of your heart! We shall see what sort of impression he makes in the coming chapters.

Thank you for your comment!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Courtney,

Sweet! Isn't that such a fun quote? I'm a big believer in light-hearted teasing. ;)

And I love that aspect of the novel, too - how authentic the story feels. While Catherine does get to meet Tilney, it's after a dud of a ball and a realization that things don't always turn out as amazing as we dream them to be.

Thank you for sharing your link! Will be by soon. :)

~Amber

Bluerose said...

Reading through the comments, I had already forgot about Catherine almost asking Tilney about him being strange. THAT did make me like him more. (only because she said it in a laughing manner) I agree with the comments about him being cheerful. I think I will like him much more by the end!

So far, I feel connected to Catherine, so I'm really curious where the story will go for her.

Here is my blog post:

http://bluerosesheart.blogspot.com/2016/03/northanger-abbey-read-along-week-1.html

Thank you for hosting this read along! It's just what I needed. :)

Amber Stokes said...

Bluerose,

Haha, these two are a fun pair, aren't they? ;) I love the banter and teasing!

That's great that you're already feeling connected to Catherine. She's quite likable in her sweetness and ordinariness.

Off to go comment on your post! So glad to hear that this read-along came along at the right time for you. :)

~Amber

Kara said...

I am definitely enjoying this story! After all the raving I've heard about it, I figured I would and I'm so happy to be right. :) I really like Mr. Tilney! I have to say that JJ really played him just as he seems in the book. That first ball scene where he and Catherine converse is so cute.

Also I just love that Catherine is so ordinary! It's actually kind of nice to have a heroine who's nothing amazing at the beginning of the story. And that she knows this and is perfectly okay with it! Also the fact that her family life is so happy. No major drama in her family is kind of different for Austen's stories! But I'm not complaining. :)

My post should be up soon. Thanks so much for hosting the read-along, my friend! I'm so pleased I'm finally reading this one.

Amber Stokes said...

Kara,

I'm so glad you're enjoying it! Isn't that the best when you've looked forward to reading something and it turns out as good as you hoped? :)

I LOVE how JJ portrays Tilney. (As you already know, haha!) I feel like having seen the movie first made me interpret how Tilney acts and what he says in positive ways. :) He gets the teasing just right in the movie!

I agree that it's refreshing to read about a heroine a lot of us can really relate to - someone who's comfortable in her own skin. And yay for her family!

I'm so behind on comments and visiting everyone's posts, but I hope to catch up today since I have today off from work! :) Thank you for participating in the read-along. So fun to chat about this book with you!

~Amber