Saturday, 11 January 2014

Learning to love a hyacinth

You have gained a new source of enjoyment, and it is as well to have as many holds on happiness as possible.  Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey
I'm afraid The Little Friend was a Donna Tartt too far for me.  Awful people doing awful things to each other and really, if you threw a live king cobra from a motorway bridge, what are the chances it would go through the sun roof of your victim's car at the precise moment it passed below? 

Time to return to Jane Austen.  Northanger Abbey is perfect to dispel the January gloom and each time I re-read Austen I discover nuances unnoticed before.  I was struck this time by how spare Austen is with her physical descriptions yet how much they convey.  Catherine gazing at Henry Tilney with 'sparkling eyes' tells us all we need to know of a blooming young girl falling in love.  Henry may be a bit of a clever clogs but when Catherine tells him that she is 'learning to love a hyacinth' his witty reply that loving a hyacinth is 'rather domestic' but she may in time 'come to love a rose' is very endearing both to Catherine and the reader.

I'm also fond of Mrs Allen, it has to be said, she is not very bright but she is kind to Catherine  and as she is completely obsessed with clothes and fashion she is the go-to woman for advice on sprigged muslin, Mechlin lace and silk gloves.  Then there is the vain and silly Isabella Thorpe who foolishly plays one of her admirers off against the other only to lose them both.

I do like the cloth-bound Penguin editions.  Unfortunately some of the of the pink gothic keys on my copy of Northanger Abbey have rubbed off after I spilled my tea.  Good job I took a picture first. Happy New Year!  



Iris said...

I am still looking for the perfect hardcover editions of Jane Austen's work. I love the cloth-bound vintage books, but I have seen quite a few of them fade in bookshops etc and so I haven't yet bought any myself.

As for the details of Austen upon rereading: I couldn't agree more!

Audrey said...

Oh, now I want to re-read this...and buy another copy in this pretty edition. Happy new year!

Cath said...

I haven't read this since I was a teenager but you're reminding me of why I liked it so much. Also enjoyed the drama from several years ago. I must reread it at some stage

Geri Meftah Art said...

Happy new year to you! I am always happy when I see you visited me. Thank you!
Have a nice day, Geri

Penny O'Neill said...

Isn't it the most perfect time of year for returning to a favorite novel? I'm now in search of Northanger Abbey and the perfect cover.

Happy New Year!

mary said...

I gave up on The Little Friend, too. At the first mention of snakes.

Arti said...

Agree. Jane Austen's novels are best remedies for a bleak winter, or anytime. Good to see Jane Austen posts every time I come here. ;)

Anbolyn said...

My first and only read of Northanger Abbey was during a very hard time in my life. It was one of the only bright spots in that horrible year so I always look on it with fondness. I must get around to reading it again some day!
Did you like The Goldfinch?

Bellezza said...

As I responded to your comment about The Little Friend on my blog, I understand your feelings with Donna Tartt drama. Much as I love her, and I do love The Secret History, even The Goldfinch became a Bit Much.

It's so good to revisit some of our favorite classics. Currently I'm rereading Great Expectations, and I think I love it even more than I did the first time around.

Glad you have a copy of Northanger Abbey, pink keys and all; a little spilled tea only means you loved it while you read it. xo

Peggy Ann said...

I have a digital copy of this and must get it read this winter!

Sunday Taylor said...

Love all that you said about Northanger Abbey. I am also reading Jane Austen right now -- Sense and Sensibility. And yes, it is the perfect time to return to Austen. I always read more classic than contemporary novels anyway. But I have to say that The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt has really captured my imagination.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I've always wanted to sit down and really read Jane Austen. I admit, I don't think I've read one tale from her. I am hanging my head in embarrassment and shame, since I don't think I've ever confessed this before... but I have read Donna Tartt (The Secret History) and I do have the new one, The Goldfinch. I've yet to read The Little Friend, though. There, that felt loads better to get that off my chest! :)

Nan said...

Why are so many new books about 'awful people doing awful things to each other' - Sometimes I'll read about a book and say to myself why should I inflict such images on myself. I once posted a quote from a letter Theodore Roosevelt wrote to his son - I am paraphrasing- life has enough pain without having to read about it in literature as well. My sentiments exactly.

Vintage Reading said...

Iris, hi, yes I have a two shelves of Austen novels now in different formats. Time to stop, I think!

Audrey, I suppose it's better than a shoe addiction!

Geri, always enjoy your blog, Nicola.

Penny, yes, covers shouldn't be that important but they are!

Mary, yup, we don't do snakes!

Arti, I tend to get the urge for contemporary fiction in the spring and then back to Austen in the winter. Strange ....

Ann Bolyn, glad Austen got you through a difficult time. Yes, loved The Goldfinch.

Bellezza, re The Goldfinch, great novel but an awful lot of drink and drugs!

Peggy, do let me know how you get on with NA.

Sunday, oh I love S&S, probably my favourite. I very much enjoyed The Goldfinch, too.

Natalie, I appreciate Austen is not everyone's cup of tea. I'm the same with Dickens - just not that keen!

Nan, I agree. I think Jane Austen said 'Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery'. Having said that The Goldfinch has a lot of drugs, drink and human conflict but it's beautifully written.