Awwwww. This is such a sweet book about such a sweet guy. I smiled the whole way through it, and chuckled or giggled or laughed often. I think that, of all the characters in all of Jane Austen's books, Henry Tilney is the one I most wish I was more like. He's almost unfailingly cheerful and funny, and he's always nice and kind. I try to be all those things, but I don't always succeed. Anyway, this book showcases all of those good traits, plus lots of nifty background on how Henry Tilney's mother died and other events that happen before Northanger Abbey begins.
And, of course, it also tells the story of his meeting Catherine Morland and falling in love with her. There's a lot more of his sister Eleanor in this than in the original, and I like her even more now. (It's not possible for me to like Henry Tilney more, I don't think -- he's already my second favorite Austen hero, second only to Captain Frederick Wentworth from Persuasion.)
If I have one quibble, it's that the backstory for Captain Tilney is a little too sympathetic, giving him a reason to be a total rake and turning his behavior with Isabella Thorpe from appalling to excusable. I'm not sure why I'm annoyed with that, other than that it all tied up so neatly and made everything so nice, whereas the not-nice sliver of darkness in Northanger Abbey made the lightness of Catherine Morland just that much sweeter.
But that's a minor quibble. Like the other Amanda Grange books I've read, this is thoroughly enjoyable, a quick read that stays very true to the original characters and story while expanding on them in delightful ways. After reading this, I'm all in the mood to re-read the original and re-watch the 2007 movie version. Not sure when I'll have time to do either of those, alas.
Particularly Good Bits:
In the meantime I am winning the respect of my parishioners, who were at first bemused by my sermons but, I flatter myself, now find them refreshing. Certainly attendance has gone up since I was ordained and took over the living, and it cannot all be because I am young and unmarried (p. 95).
Her reply was everything I could have wished for. To be sure, she was incoherent, and her sense of obligation and pleasure were so mixed together with an assurance that her heart had long been my own that her words were incomprehensible, but the smile in her eyes told me all I needed to know (p. 245-6).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG. As innocent as the original, with the loathesome John Thorpe throwing in a couple of swear words (I think -- I didn't actually make notes this time through).