When I accepted MsKatykins offer of having a read along buddy for this book I was relieved, it is quite a daunting book (especially the version I have small print and bible paper) but one I really want to read.
This will not be an in-depth analysis of the work chapter by chapter but instead a hopefully light-hearted banter about our impressions as we read along and see whether we are left sharing opinions or whether each of us reads differently into this novel that inspired Austen’s Northanger Abbey.
Have to say the first pages reminded me why I have picked this up and placed it back on the TBR pile so many times. The picaresque features heavily in gothic literature and this is no exception. To us as modern readers the seemingly over detailed descriptions can be rather off-putting but I have to be fair after all we need only google a place-name to see images of it in all its glory for the regency reader only those rich enough to take the grand tours would have any idea what the Pyrenees and other areas looked like.
I guess for the first post the thing to contemplate are the characters as we are introduced to them so I will give you my first impressions…
Monsieur St. Aubert – Our would be heroines father (after all we haven’t met her yet she might not be a heroine in our eyes time will tell) and I rather disliked him after about three lines of description, he comes across as a wimp, disillusioned by the fact other men are not all kind and interested in the finer things such as literature and music he decides to uproot his family and retire to live the pastoral life. Now I know things were different back then but even I know that keeping a young girl isolated is going to have her yearning for adventure and getting her naive little self in trouble.
Emily – Our would be heroine or as seems more likely the damsel in distress, in the first encounters I have to say she is not particularly likeable. Due to her secluded life she is self-absorbed and slightly vain. She is of course well versed in such accomplishments fitting a young lady she is lacking in worldly experience which you know means she is heading for adventure.
The first few chapters are hard going, the death of Emily’s mother does give an insight into the way her father thinks she should behave, no showing emotion and putting on an air of acceptance she cannot feel, and one almost does feel sorry for her in this,
The other characters we meet in these opening chapters do not really leave any lasting impressions at this point although we know some of them will prove to have pivotal roles as the story progresses.
It is not easy going, the style of writing favoured by gothic authors is very description heavy by todays standards, I look forward to seeing what MsKatykins thinks to the next few chapters and whether she agrees with my opinions of the beginning.