Masterpiece Theatre -- Northanger Abbey

Much, much better than Persuasion!

The girls playing Catherine & Isabella were both just perfect, I thought, as was the man playing Henry Tilney. This production didn’t seem to suffer as much by the hour and a half format as Persuasion did. I really enjoyed it, and am looking forward to next week (Mansfield Park) more than I expected to.


Looks like I should have waited a little longer before starting this thread. Or didn’t any other Austen fans watch?

I watched it, and I agree that it worked better than Persuasion in the shorter time slot, but I’m not as familiar with the novel. I thought the tone was perfect, and all the performances seemed right, too. General Tilney and Captain Tilney were both appropriately creepy.

Eleanor’s boyfriend (did he even have a name?) suddenly coming into money seemed a little deus ex machina, but I suppose it was appropriate in a way.

I didn’t know until the previews that Billie Piper is playing Fanny Price in Mansfield Park. I’m intrigued.

In the book, he was a total deus ex machina – he was never even mentioned until the final pages!

I thought it was incredibly adorable - much better that Persuasion.

It made me want to read the book again, I’ve only read it once before. I loved all of Catherine’s fanciful Gothic daydreams. And the character is so sweet, even if she is a little clueless.

It’s a good book – probably my second favorite after Persuasion. Catherine is just such a charmer – pretty, but not too pretty; bright, but naive; imaginative and sweet. And Henry Tilney is just one of the best heroes.

I wish they’d had room for my favorite line, though, which belongs to John Thorpe. Upon greeting his mother he says (slightly paraphrased, because I’m too lazy to go in the living room and get the book), “Hello, Mother. Where’d you get that quiz of a hat? It makes you look like an old witch.”

I didn’t watch it. I was having a pity party for many reasons, but not limited too. because I wanted to watch it but we don’t have a DVDr that works right now. I’ve discovered that if I watch Jane Austen once, I want to watch her stuff alot.
Has anyone burnt this show into a DVD? she asked knowingly.

Charming. It did seem to work a lot better than Persuasion in the shorter time slot. And unlike Anne Elliot, where you were wondering why she had two men chasing her, you completely got Cathy - everyone THOUGHT she was rich, and she was cute and charming enough.

But unlike Persuasion, I haven’t read Northanger Abbey in years - so I only sort of remembered the story.

The Thorpes were wonderfully nasty.

I enjoyed this one, too. I have never read the book and all through the show I thought General Tilney was inviting Catherine to the house to court her himself. I guess I thought that because he was so creeeeeepy. This morning I realized he was just facilitating his son’s pursuit of a rich girl.

When Mr. Thorpe lied to Catherine about seeing the Tilneys go off somewhere, why didn’t she write them a note explaining the situation instead of waiting to bump into them and then explaining?

The end moved kinda fast resolving all the storylines, did Isabella marry Mr. Morland after being seduced? I must have been getting a drink in there somewhere.

When Isabella asked Mr. Morland “Are we engaged?” he just told her to get back to her friends, because they might be missing her. I think it’s safe to assume they did not marry.

It was ok, but I guess I’m the only one who didn’t like it as much as Persuasion. I haven’t read Northanger Abbey, so maybe that’s why.

I didn’t like the narration, and the tone of the production seemed too modern, although I can’t put my finger on what exactly bothered me about it. I kept wondering why Catherine wasn’t much more creeped out by the Tilneys, including Henry, who just smiles blandly while his father plots. The scene where Catherine is telling Henry that she suspects his father to be a murderer, on so little evidence, was uncomfortable.

The ending was abrupt, but that might very well match the book. What did Catherine and Henry live on, if Henry broke with his father?

Gillian Anderson was slightly less weird this week, but only slightly.

Henry in the book doesn’t break with his father - his father in the book is less of a bad guy (as I recall, its been years) and is “reconciled” to his match with Catherine. Henry is a clergymen, and in the tradition of Austen heroines who are not Elizabeth Bennett, marries a man who is not wealthy, but will be able to provide respectably. Catherine also has a small amount of money of her own, not the fortune everyone believes she has, but something.

Henry is also a second son, and like Edmund Bertram, his older brother is something of a wastrel. Second sons needed to be able to earn a living (hence both Edmund and Henry are clergymen) but there is always the chance that the older brother will die without an heir - that not being that uncommon in the era. I recall we are told that Tom Bertram straightens up and becomes respectable (therefore doesn’t manage to kill himself), but don’t think there is a mention of what happens to Fredrick Tilney.

I agree that the ending seemed rushed.

Catherine and Henry lived on the same thing all penniless Austen couples do, love.

Shirley - I might be able to provide you with a DVD. If you want it, PM me with your address. I should get it in the mail in a day or two.


I looked it up. Catherine has 3000 pounds of her own - while 150 pounds a year is not much money at all - its more than most Austen heroines have - in an era where a laborer made 40 pounds a year and an attorney (like Lizzie Bennett’s uncle) made around 100. Eleanor’s husband Mr. Deus Ex Machina turns out (through the death of his older brother) to be Viscount Deus Ex Machina - and therefore even if Henry’s father disowns him, would very likely have a living (or two) to grant - or adequate connections to get him one.

But that is the sort of detail you aren’t getting in 90 minutes. You don’t particularly get it in the book - you have to read between lines and know enough Regency economics to pick up on it.

I thought she was seduced by the oldest Tilney son, not Mr. Morland. Was I totally wrong? :confused:

Yeah, it was Captain Tilney. I misunderstood the question. I don’t think they said what became of Isabella and Mr. Moreland.

I loved it. I thought JJ Feild was incredibly charming as Henry, and Felicity Jones was perfectly fresh-faced and guileless as Catherine. (She also reminded me of a prettier and less forced Scarlett Johannson.)

The only thing that confused me was why Mr. Thorpe would have deliberately told General Tilney about Catherine’s alleged fortune – he must have known Tilney would have gone after her for her money himself (or on his son’s behalf, anyway).

I was a little surprised at how openly sexualized the screenplay was – I confess I haven’t read the book, but you can’t tell me those girls discussed Matthew Lewis’ “The Monk” out in the open like that, or that Isabella’s disgrace was anything more than barely hinted at.

I recall the book it being a “flirtation” but Mansfield Park has out and out adultery, Pride and Prejudice has Lydia running off with Wickham and he doesn’t intend to marry her, and Sense and Sensibility has Eliza Williams and Willoughby’s seduction - it isn’t out of character.

In the book, the thing between Captain Tilney and Isabella wasn’t an affair – it was a flirtation. Isabella, disappointed in James Moreland’s prospects was trying to hook the more affluent Captain Tilney, while not completely letting go of James until she had to. James didn’t go for this and broke off the engagment, at which time Isabella realized that Tilney wasn’t stepping up to the plate. So she tried to write to Catherine and get her to intervene with James and convince him to take her back. Which Catherine would not do.

I think they decided to make it an affair in the film to make it clear to ‘modern’ eyes how big a scandal an engaged girl having an open flirtation with another man would cause. To us, Isabella gadding about with Captain Tilney doesn’t seem like that big a deal. But it was in their society. It was a mistep, though, in terms of historical as well as literary accuracy. Isabella was shrewd and was shopping herself around for marriage – she wouldn’t have traded the final price without a wedding ring on her finger.

They made a similar change wen Catherine was kicked out of Northanger Abbey. in the book, she was made to leave – all alone – the first thing the following morning. This was really, really shocking and scandalous on the part of General Tilney – to force a young woman in his charge to make a long journey on the public coach all alone. But in the film, he went one step further – she had to undertake this trip in the middle of the night. This was, I believe to make it obvious How Bad It Was.

Catherine didn’t read The Monk in the book, BTW. She did read The Mysteries of Udolpho. They may have decided to use The Monk for the reasons up above – to make it clear to us moderners how bad an influence the Thorpes were. Reading novels was frowned on as being flighty – reading sexy novels was much, much worse.