Monday, 18 April 2011

Catherine Morland

'Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl, - she is almost pretty today,' were words which caught her ears now and then; and how welcome were the sounds! To look almost pretty, is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life, than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive. Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

With the exception of Jane Eyre it is rare to find a literary heroine who is not beautiful. During her six-week sojourn in Bath, Catherine Morland a likeable and unremarkable girl who takes everything at face-value is rewarded with her man while the artful, the fashionable and the foolish are the victims of Austen's biting satire. Northanger Abbey also contains a delightful defence of the novel and novel readers (as if we needed one!)

The beauty on the cover of my Everyman's edition is Priscilla Jones, Wife of the Artist by Thomas Barker of Bath (1769-1847).

18 comments:

Lilacs In May said...

Disgracefully, I call myself a Jane Austen fan but have never read this book, that must be rectified. I am currently reading Elizabeth Gaskells biography of Charlotte Bronte, and enjoying it hugely.

E. L. Fay said...

You know, you're right. And even when they're not beautiful, the movie adaptations always use beautiful actresses! Grrrr.

Sunday Taylor said...

What a good point you make. I love that about Northanger Abbey. Jane Eyre is another good example of a heroine who is not beautiful. The cover on your edition is lovely.

Karen K. said...

I agree with E. L. Fay, the actors in the recent Jane Eyre were much too good-looking. The girl who played Catherine in the BBC Northanger Abbey was cute, I thought that was a pretty good adaptation. NA is funnier than I expected. I need to reread it!

callmemadam said...

One of the things I love about this book is the realistic portrayal of Catherine's family and C's romping, tomboy-ish childhood. It's similar to the way the schoolgirls in Emma are given good food and plenty of fresh air and games and shows that not all girls were brought up to be 'miss-ish'.

Steph said...

I think I always forget that Catherine is not meant to be pretty because she is simply so spirited. And I think that that is probably what Austen had in mind!

whisperinggums said...

I love this book too. John Thorpe with his carriage is such a portrait of those self-centred self-confident young men who show off their possession - their carriage, their car, whatever. Thorpe epitomises them. It's a delightful book.

Lilacs in May - go forth young woman and read this book!

Katherine Cox said...

I've been looking for a nice edition of Northanger Abbey and may have to go for the Everyday Library's, lovely cover. :)

Lilacs In May said...

whisperinggums - it's next, promise!

Julie Wakefield said...

I love Northanger Abbey, in fact it rates 3rd favourite now.It used to rank lower in The Six, but the passing of time has improved it's appeal for me.

potterjotter said...

Its just about the only Austen that I haven't read - I will earmark it for this summer - definitely!

Vintage Reading said...

Lilacs in May. I loved Gaskell's biog of Charlotte Bronte. So glad you are enjoying it.

E L Fay. Yes, I've never seen a plain Jane Eyre on film!

Sunday Taylor, I get to like Catherine Morland more each time I re-read NA. When of Austen's less sparkling heroines, but nonetheless fascinating.


Karen K, yes there is a lot of humour in NA. Even the gothic parts are fun!

callmemadam, yes, I wonder how much Austen drew on her own childhood for her portrayal Catherine's childhood. It's only since I've read a few biogs of Austen that I've realised she was a country girl and certainly didn't move in the upper circles of society.

Steph, I love the fact the Catherine remains clear-sighted and she is no pushover despite the influence of Isabella, her vain friend.

whisperinggums, yes conspicuous consumption is very evident in Austen's novels - she had a wonderful understanding of human nature!

Katherine Cox - I invested in the whole set in hardback, but I got some of them in the Borders sale at a lower price. Expensive but worth it, I think!

Julie Wakefield, now I want to know what your top three are! For me, it's Persuasion, Mansfield Park and S&S but it changes all the time.

potterjotter, the nice thing about Austen's output is that there are only six novels which is manageable although I do dream about an undiscovered novel turning up!

Bellezza said...

I am reading this for the Classics Circuit in May, the duel between Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. There are so many of Jane Austen's novel I've yet to read, and I chose this for the very reason you mention here: the defense of readers everywhere. Can't wait!

Penny said...

I'm re-reading Sense and Sensibility, but now you've got me yearning for Northanger Abbey, which I've only read once so far! I'm also really enjoying Claire Tomalin's biography. I've heard there are some people who don't like Jane Austen... Very strange!

Bellezza said...

I think the defense of the reader is the only thing I liked about this book. Catherine was not likeable to me. Still, I'm glad she 'got her man'. I hope he likes her better than I did!

Arti said...

Nicola,

Thanks for coming over to my blog and casting a vote in my Jane Austen Poll. I'm so glad you came because now I know what a wonderful blog you have over here. I'm now catching up on your recent posts and enjoying all of them. Catherine Morland does not seem to be much of a 'heroine', but from Wm. Deresiewicz whose book A Jane Austen Education I'm reading now, Northanger Abbey has taught him quite a lot.

I'll be back for more of your posts!

Arti

Jessica Wood said...

I volunteer at the Holburne art museum where the painting on the cover is located and I agree, it compliments the book very well and gives it a nice touch.

Vintage Reading said...

Hi Jessica, you have a fabulous job! Thansk for your comment.