Gothic Tuesday List
And there’s the Sleuth Thursday list too…
This is the last Gothic Tuesday, written for the day of Unspoken’s release, and the last Sleuth Thursday was last week. Behold them all are in LIST FORM for your delectation, kindly readers.
But what is our final Gothic Tuesday?
Most Gothic books are not meant to be hilarious. Unless Charlotte Bronte was playing an elaborate practical joke writing JANE EYRE. ‘Ahahaha, the hero gets a fake girlfriend and he has a secret wife! Hee hee hee! Time to dress up like an old lady! Eddie you kill me!’
… In which case, I have to say: Well played, Bronte, well played.
Jane Austen, however, definitely intended NORTHANGER ABBEY to be funny, which makes everything MUCH trickier. Who guards the guards? Who parodies the parodies?
Apparently the answer to that second question is… me. Lucky, lucky me. I knew the curse would fall upon me. I resisted it! I thought maybe I could do THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO, or THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO, or Jenny Crusie’s MAYBE THIS TIME, or Susan Howatch’s THE DEVIL ON LAMMAS NIGHT (Satan gets a kitty cat to steal a letter in its tiny kitten teeth!), but… come on. I love Jane Austen. This is my last Gothic Tuesday: my funny Gothic book comes out TODAY.
In vain I have struggled. It will not do. You must allow me to parody NORTHANGER ABBEY.
JANE AUSTEN: Catherine Morland, not really heroine material. She was kind of plain and not that bright.
BELLA SWAN: She was just before her time, yo.
CATHERINE: If I could sum up my homeland of Wiltshire with one phrase that phrase would be: who let the dogs out?
FAMILY FRIEND MRS ALLEN: Want to go on a trip to Bath to hook up with hotties? Bath, the Ibiza of its time!
CATHERINE: … Let me go pack my SEXY bonnet.
CATHERINE: Dear Mum and Dad, Not waylayed by dangerously attractive highwaymen on way to Bath. Disappointed but planning to rock out tonight! Love, C.
MRS ALLEN: I’d like to make it clear that I only care about one thing.
CATHERINE: That I have a good time as your guest?
MRS ALLEN: I was going to say ‘awesome designer frocks’ but, I mean, go nuts, Camille.
MRS ALLEN: Whatever, Celine. Does this bustle make my ass look big?
CATHERINE: I imagined this more as ‘dancing in my best dress, fearless!’ and less as ‘awkward standing around.’
MRS ALLEN: I dunno, I’m having a pretty good time. I was looking around and I thought, who is that honey in the fabulous satin? Then I realised I was looking in a mirror. Boo yeah!
MASTER OF HOOKING UP: Hey you, young lady! You wanna hook up? Here’s Henry Tilney. The first rule of Bath: what happens in Bath, stays in Bath. The second rule of Bath: don’t drink the water. Seriously, don’t do it.
HENRY TILNEY: Hey girl. I have an ironic sense of humour and several observations to make about the inherent absurdity of society!
CATHERINE: That’s cool. I’m seventeen, so I’m working my way up to irony, but what’s cookin’, good-lookin’?
HENRY TILNEY: Hey do you keep a journal? I think dudes and ladies are about equal in writing talent, really!
CATHERINE: I bet you get a lot of carriage-parking tickets, because boy you are fine.
HENRY TILNEY: Also I’m super into fashion.
MRS ALLEN: I like him. He can stay.
JANE AUSTEN: I hear from the newspapers and dude novelists that ladies are physically incapable of fancying dudes unless the dudes are into them first. Newspapers and dude novelists, you are full of it. Catherine Morland wanted to rock Henry Tilney a) like a hurricane, b) like a wagon wheel and c) all night long. Jane out!
MRS THORPE: Hey Mrs Allen, old schoolfriend, I don’t know if you’ve met my daughter Isabella and my son John and my other daught-
MRS ALLEN: Lady I don’t know why you’re so self-centred. Can we talk about me for a minute? More importantly, can we talk about my jaunty hat?
ISABELLA THORPE: I know your brother James. He’s hot, don’t you think?
ISABELLA: Come on, we’re in a Gothic novel.
ISABELLA: Little bit?
CATHERINE: Let me show you the world. The world of no.
JANE AUSTEN: Isabella and Catherine became friends through reading novels together. I am not going to slam on novels like other people do because, damn, I am WRITING A NOVEL here, why would I do that? Also I work really hard on my books and I bet other people do too. Also, sorry books are more fun to read than the news, y’all. It’s hard out here for a literary genius.
JANE AUSTEN: Uh, I mean, ‘there seems an almost general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit and taste to recommend them.’
JANE AUSTEN: Because I’m pithy like that.
CATHERINE: Girl this Gothic mystery is so compelling! I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a skeleton in a minute. What’s that you have there?
ISABELLA: I may have made us a list of AWESOMELY CREEPY books.
CATHERINE: Hit me.
ISABELLA: Brace yourself because there are necromancers!
CATHERINE: Necromancers are better than cake!
ISABELLA: Hey check out those two foxy dudes.
CATHERINE: Wait, but I want to talk about the book some more…
ISABELLA: To the Flirtmobile, away!
CATHERINE: I think books are equally exciting as dudes.
ISABELLA: All the single ladies, put your hands up! All the single ladies, make noise!
CATHERINE’S BROTHER JAMES: Hey Isabella hey.
ISABELLA’S BROTHER JOHN: Hi Cathy check out my sweet ride.
CATHERINE: Yeah, it’s nice.
ISABELLA’S BROTHER JOHN: All the honeys describe it as pretty fly.
CATHERINE: … Do you read at all?
ISABELLA’S BROTHER JOHN: I would but the thing is books are dumb?
CATHERINE: … I think we’re done here.
CATHERINE: Omigod here comes Henry Tilney with a hot girl! I assume it’s his sister because he was totally flirting with me earlier.
ISABELLA: You are throwing away an opportunity for a dramatic misunderstanding!
ELEANOR: Hi I’m Henry’s sister Eleanor?
ISABELLA: Prime swooning opportunity lost! You missed your chance, Morland! YOU MISSED YOUR CHANCE.
CATHERINE: Nice to meet you. Forgive Isabella, she’s been at the rum punch.
ISABELLA’S BROTHER JOHN: My hobbies include drinking, swearing, and horse racing.
CATHERINE: Awesome. Here’s my number.
ISABELLA’S BROTHER JOHN: Um, Catherine, you just gave me the number for Mario’s Pizza Place.
CATHERINE: Oh, shoot.
ISABELLA: I’m going to be flirting with your brother all day every day, later.
CATHERINE: Isabella! Ovaries before brovaries!
ISABELLA: You’ll have fun with my brother, ’K?
CATHERINE: In the same way I have fun with carriage accidents, large vicious animals, and the Black Death, sure.
HENRY’S SISTER ELEANOR: Hey girl, how’s it going?
CATHERINE: I spend my days mostly writing ‘Mrs Catherine Tilney’ in my trapper keeper, and climbing out of windows to avoid John Thorpe. If you see John, tell him I’m washing my hair and I’ll keep washing my hair until L’Oreal is invented, because I’m worth it.
ELEANOR: Got it.
CATHERINE: If you see your brother, tell him I’m free. Tell him I’m single. Tell him I’m totally unattached, low maintenance, and interested. Don’t you think he’s hot?
ELEANOR: A world of no.
CATHERINE: Uh, I mean, totally objectively. Can you give him this note?
ELEANOR: ‘Wanna hook up check Y or N?’
CATHERINE: I’m objectively interested in his opinion on this matter.
HENRY TILNEY: Wanna dance? Hey, isn’t it weird how dudes have to ask, and ladies have to wait to be asked? Would you ask dudes to dance if you could?
CATHERINE: If I could rearrange the letters of the alphabet I’d put U and I together.
CATHERINE: Who’s that silver fox staring at me?
HENRY TILNEY: Um, it’s my dad…?
HENRY TILNEY: Ward.
JOHN THORPE: Hey there sexy lady, wanna ride?
CATHERINE: No thanks, I’m meeting Henry Dreamboat Tilney today!
JOHN: Uh, no, I saw them go that way. Guess you got stood up and can come with me.
CATHERINE: Oh. Fantastic. Wait stop the carriage, that’s Henry!
JOHN: Oh yeah, I remember now. I was totally lying.
CATHERINE: STOP THE CARRIAGE.
JOHN: I would, but I don’t feel like it.
HENRY TILNEY: Being stood up for another dude is hurtful. Being stood up for John Thorpe is both hurtful and deeply puzzling.
HENRY TILNEY: Is she really going out with him? Is she really gonna take him home tonight?
CATHERINE: Help! Help! I’ve been kidnapped! BY AN UNATTRACTIVE GUY. Will nobody help me?
CATHERINE: I did not stand you up yesterday! Come on, think about it for a second. That guy? Really, you think I’d stand you up for that guy?
HENRY TILNEY: Compelling point.
CATHERINE: I suppose you don’t read novels?
HENRY ‘ACTUAL QUOTE, HE’S SO FINE’ TILNEY: The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel must be intolerably stupid.
CATHERINE: I am going to hit it like the fist of God.
HENRY: Beg pardon?
CATHERINE: Nothing! Please continue to talk about books!
HENRY: Do you like history?
CATHERINE: Um, no. How do I put this? Too many misters, not enough sisters.
HENRY: Point. Do you like art?
CATHERINE: I don’t know anything about art. Tell me about it!
JANE AUSTEN: Even dudes as cool as Henry really, really like it when ladies don’t know stuff and they can hold forth at great length.
JANE AUSTEN: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of some knowledge from wikipedia must be in want of a girl to patronisingly explain it to.
JANE AUSTEN: Why such dudes are single is not a Gothic mystery. But I digress!
ISABELLA: Great news Catherine! But you probably already guessed… you’re so sly and quick!
ISABELLA: Your brother likes it and he’s gonna put a ring on it!
CATHERINE: Sorry, on what?
ISABELLA: Your brother popped the question.
CATHERINE: And the question was…?
ISABELLA: Your brother James asked me to marry him, by which I mean be his wife, and I said yes. To that question. That he asked me.
CATHERINE: Oh wow, that’s so great! Congratulations! I can’t believe it!
ISABELLA: And I no longer believe in feminine intuition.
GENERAL TILNEY, HENRY’S HOT DAD: Hello Catherine. You’re really pretty.
CATHERINE: Thank you.
GENERAL TILNEY: So you agree with me, you think you’re really pretty?
CATHERINE: If this dude wasn’t Henry the Hotass’s dad, I would say he gives me the creeps. But I am one hundred per cent positive it’s all OK and I should ignore any warning signs going off in my head!
HENRY AND ELEANOR: Wait till you meet our brother Captain Tilney. He inherited the evil gene.
CATHERINE: The what?
HENRY AND ELEANOR: Nothing! Did you say something? I didn’t hear anything.
CATHERINE’S BROTHER JAMES: Oh sweet Isabella, we will be so happy togethee in our humble cot!
ISABELLA: I truly disliked two of those words you just said. Sounds like ‘jumble spot.’
CATHERINE: Aw, you and James are going to be so happy!
ISABELLA: Excuse me, I have to go dance with Captain Evil But Chiseled & Rich Tilney!
CATHERINE: Captain Evil But Chiseled Tilney is pretty chiseled, but I have to say I’m not feeling it. Maybe it’s the evil. No love triangles in this book!
ISABELLA’S BROTHER JOHN: Well, I…
JOHN: Love is in the air…
CATHERINE: Just no.
JOHN: If you were the only girl in the world and I was the only boy-
CATHERINE: I would strangle myself with my own bonnet strings. I knew a man once and his name was Hell, No.
ELEANOR: Oh Catherine, great to see you. Look, I was wondering if you might come pay me a visit at my home in Northanger Abbey. I know my dad’s a little weird and the house is a little Gothic and creepy, but–
CATHERINE: Did you say Gothic and creepy? I’m there. I’m there with eldritch bells on.
ELEANOR: Oh, fantastic! You may be interested in our antique furniture–
CATHERINE: Ghastly skeletons!
ELEANOR: –we have a very nice shrubbery…
CATHERINE: I hope there’s a nun who got buried alive!
ELEANOR: –also our roses always get first prize at the flower show—
CATHERINE: Can’t wait!
ELEANOR: Sometimes I worry we’re having conversations in two different dimensions.
CATHERINE: Maybe there’s an interdimensional portal to a demon realm at your place!
GENERAL ‘EVIL’ TILNEY: Maybe Catherine would like to ride with Henry in his carriage!
CATHERINE: Boy would I!
HENRY: It’s awesome you’re coming to stay.
CATHERINE: I’m totally stoked about it. And the best part is—
CATHERINE: It’s going to be a Gothic manor! I so hope there will be a ghost seeking vengeance!
HENRY: Well. Imagine that you go in and you find a secret passageway! And then a golden and jet casket, in which lies papers containing a dread secret, and then in the dank breeze of the passageway your single candle gutters and goes out, leaving you in utter darkness—
CATHERINE: Ahhh! Right. Right. You don’t have any smelling salts on you, do you? Okay, never mind.
HENRY: I’ll stop.
CATHERINE: DON’T YOU DARE STOP.
HENRY: This your first time telling horror stories with a guy?
CATHERINE: Yeah, but I’m a fast learner.
CATHERINE: I wish I had you to tell me bedtime stories eeeeeevery night.
HENRY: Uh, well, maybe something could be arranged.
CATHERINE: I won’t get into the other bedtime stuff because I know you’re a bashful clergyman and all.
HENRY (faintly): Right. Right. You don’t have any smelling salts on you, do you? … Okay, never mind.
CATHERINE: Uh, what kind of abbey do you call this? Nothing is mouldering!
GENERAL TILNEY: I’d have serious words with housekeeping if something was.
CATHERINE: Night-time at the abbey. Hey, this chest in my room looks sort of gold and black-y, just like the chest from Henry’s story.
CATHERINE: Not that I’m going to tamper with someone else’s private property. Nope. Not me.
CATHERINE: Catherine Morland, lawabiding citizen.
CATHERINE: I can resist everything except temptation! Let me at it! Let me at it! Omigod papers, just like in Henry’s story, no doubt containing some dread tale, let me just snuff my candle…
CANDLE: goes out
DARKNESS: is absolute
CATHERINE: Let me just huddle in bed with my papers and wait for daylight I know I shall never zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….
CATHERINE: It’s daytime! Finally I can pursue this dark and midnight tale of…
CATHERINE: This dark and midnight tale of a drycleaning bill.
CATHERINE: I’m just going to go have breakfast. Let’s keep this between you and me, Sweet and Fresh Linens!
GENERAL TILNEY: Hey you want to see Northanger Abbey?
CATHERINE: Boy do I! Take me to your crypt!
GENERAL TILNEY: Or we could take a walk outside and see the gardens. It’s a lovely day!
CATHERINE: This fixation on sunshine and fresh air is very suspicious.
GENERAL TILNEY: I love gardening!
CATHERINE: WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?
ELEANOR: Let’s take this gloomy walk down a chestnut avenue, it was my dead mother’s favourite walk.
CATHERINE: Gloomy? Possibly haunted? Say no more. I’m in!
GENERAL TILNEY: I’m out, Goth girls.
CATHERINE: Has it ever occurred to you that your father might have brutally murdered your mother?
ELEANOR: Sorry, what?
CATHERINE: Just thinking out loud, good buddy. Just thinking out loud.
GENERAL TILNEY: Let me show you around the Abbey! Wait till you see my kitchens, they are divine.
CATHERINE: Vile monster, I scorn your gleaming countertops!
GENERAL TILNEY: Best not go in the old deserted wing.
ELEANOR: My mother died there. Bad memories.
CATHERINE: Oh, poor gullible Eleanor. It’s obvious that General Tilney either murdered his wife or is keeping her locked up in there and feeding her only gruel!
GENERAL TILNEY: Time for dinner!
CATHERINE: You will not glory in your ill-gotten kitchens much longer, fiend!
CATHERINE: Oh uh hi Henry, good to see you. I was just… wandering through the locked part of the abbey… checking out your dead mother’s belongings… for like, evidence, bloodstained clothing, ropes and chains. Normal stuff. Normal stuff.
HENRY: I think ‘Maybe your dad murdered your mom’ is the least sexy thing anyone has ever said to me.
CATHERINE: Or maybe imprisoned her!
HENRY: Catherine, what can you be thinking? RICH BRITISH DUDES NEVER COMMIT CRIMES!
CATHERINE: I have learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes a douchebag is just a douchebag and doesn’t murder anybody. Also sometimes an abbey is just a big old house.
CATHERINE: Omigod I am so embarrassed the boy I like must think I’m an idiot because I acted like an idiot!
HENRY: Hey girl. I find naivete about human nature charming.
CATHERINE: Well lucky for you I am ten pounds of naïve in a five pound sack.
CATHERINE: Awesome I got a letter! ‘Dear Catherine, In a totally unforeseen and narratively unforeshadowed turn of events, Isabella has left me for Captain Evil Tilney. Listening to Evanescence, nothing matters anymore. Love Your Brother James, The Dude Formerly Known As Isabella’s Fiance’
CATHERINE: This was not at all the letter I was hoping for.
ELEANOR: Cathy you OK?
GENERAL TILNEY: This comic strip in the newspaper is very droll!
CATHERINE: *crying openly*
HENRY: Catherine speak to us!
ELEANOR: Cathy honey!
GENERAL TILNEY: And my cocoa is deeeeeelicious! … Wait is something going on?
HENRY: I guess it could be true: my brother always had a low opinion of women, so he’s enough of a dumbass to get snared by Isabella.
ELEANOR: Uh, our father is not going to let our brother marry some broke girl.
CATHERINE: Why not?
HENRY: Well. I ain’t saying he’s a gold digger…
CATHERINE: Sucks about Isabella, but it’s nice to hang out with Henry and Eleanor, and now I get to visit Henry’s house. Oh what a great house, not Gothicky or manory at all!
GENERAL TILNEY: Yeah, it’s an OK house. Needs a lady’s touch. If only Henry had a wife to pick out wallpaper for him? koff koff.
HENRY: DAD OMG.
GENERAL TILNEY: Hush lad, I’m being SUBTLE.
CATHERINE: Oh cool another letter. ‘Dear Catherine, Uh your brother seems to have misunderstood something, like, he ran out yelling something about ‘bleating on me!’ Please write and reassure him there are no sheep in Bath and I totally love him 4 eva. If you happen to see Captain Evil Tilney tell him I hate his stupid hot face and his amazing ass in a military uniform, Love Isabella.’
CATHERINE: … Huh. I guess Isabella thinks I’m the stupidest person in the world.
ELEANOR: It’s cool that you’re growing up. It’s also cool I won’t have to deal with Isabella as a sister-in-law. I got problems enough already, half my family is evil.
ELEANOR: Okay Catherine, I hate to break in on your bedroom in the dead of night, but uh… I don’t really know how to put this…
CATHERINE: Oh Eleanor, it can’t be that bad.
ELEANOR: My dad is throwing you out of the house first thing in the morning and you will be unaccompanied and have to travel all alone and young and unprotected and—and maybe get murdered by bandits and he won’t care!
CATHERINE: … Okay that’s pretty bad.
STRANGE STORM: *howls through the noise*
CATHERINE: Shut up atmospheric weather, I have a lot on my mind!
ELEANOR: I am so so so sorry, I hate my dad and I hate myself!
CATHERINE: Oh Eleanor, don’t hate yourself!… I also hate your dad.
ELEANOR: Please take this cash.
CATHERINE: Oh yes I forgot your dad was turning me penniless out of the house and I am unable to get home without money. Maybe the bandits will take me in!
ELEANOR: When you leave I’m going upstairs to listen to the Smiths.
CATHERINE: Thinking dark thoughts on a long lonely journey, totally unprotected…
CATHERINE: I could really use a distraction. Where are those bandits at?
CATHERINE: Lazy good-for-nothing bandits…
CATHERINE: Totally safe if depressed journey home. What kind of Gothic novel is this?
CATHERINE’S MOM: And then General Tilney sent Catherine home. It was a long way in the dark with nobody to protect her! She’s sixteen! I’m outrage.
MRS ALLEN: It IS an outrage. But you know what else is an outrage? That you’ve been in my house five minutes and you haven’t admired my gloves yet. Check out the fine stitches on these babies!
CATHERINE’S MOM: You seem depressed.
CATHERINE: I don’t know why you would say that.
CATHERINE’S MOM: Your sister Sarah says you want to paint your bedroom black.
CATHERINE: Black like my black bleak future, black like the colour of my dead dreams!
CATHERINE: … I’m totally fine. God, Mom.
CATHERINE’S MOM: We’re well rid of those awful Tilneys!
HENRY: Hi I’m Henry Tilney, and I just came by to say I was so sor-
CATHERINE’S MOM: Say no more! Casa Morland is always open to the handsome!
HENRY: You’re very kind. Uh, could I maybe take a walk?
CATHERINE’S MOM: You just got here?
HENRY: I better visit the Allens, maybe someone could show me the way…?
CATHERINE’S MOM: You can see that house from our window.
HENRY: Can I go outside with your daughter so I can propose to her?!
CATHERINE’S MOM: Oh! Oh totally. Oh, we have like ten children, which daughter do you want?
CATHERINE’S MOM: Good choice. Good choice. Sarah’s kind of a pill.
HENRY: See the thing is… you remember Isabella’s brother John?
CATHERINE: John ‘Busy Hands’ Thorpe? Sadly yes.
HENRY: He told my dad you were rich because he wanted to boast about courting a rich girl. When Dad found out you weren’t rich he threw you out of the house. Uh. See the thing is… Dad is a huge jerk…
CATHERINE: Ten four. Fully understood.
HENRY: So will you marry me?
CATHERINE: Oh Henry. I’m going to love you like nothing you’ve ever known, I’m gonna love you and you all alone. When can we get to the macking?
HENRY: Well, I mean, we could do it now or we could wait until we’re married, which would obviously be fine, either way, really…
CATHERINE: REGENCY LADY MACK ATTACK!
JANE AUSTEN: Let’s face it, there are like two pages of the book to go, you know the Evil General said OK. Eleanor married a rich dude and the General was in a good mood, the General figured Mrs Allen might leave Catherine her dress collection and they’d be rich, baby, rich.
JANE AUSTEN: In conclusion, distrusting your parents, really wanting to bang a dude, and reading lots of sensational novels always works out awesome. Jane out!
There are a lot of things to like about Northanger Abbey. Of course there are. Jane Austen is a freaking genius.
One of the best things is that Jane Austen is in conversation with the Gothic genre, saying, look, I like things to be grounded in realism, for heaven’s sake, why would you run upstairs when the masked killer was after you, call the cops!
But she wasn’t making fun of her heroine the whole time: she is on her heroine’s side, and it isn’t all funny. Catherine may be wrong about dire murders and veiled skeletons, but her belief in those things come from her belief, her instinct, that she is not safe in Northanger Abbey. Even a sympathetic, understanding guy like Henry Tilney will try to tell her that she is wrong: that she is safe.
But Catherine is right. Catherine is not safe.
Gothic novels are a way of talking about feeling endangered, and feeling trapped, and having all those feelings validated. Jane Austen, I think, understood that. She talks about Gothic novels and the women who read them with love as well as amusement: she knew that you do not have to be serious all the time to make points that should be taken seriously.
A book shouldn’t be just funny or just serious: a book should be both, and the serious moments should help the funny ones. Just like a book shouldn’t tell one story but dozens of stories, entwined with and illuminating each other.
That’s what I tried to do with Unspoken, anyway.
This is my very last Gothic Tuesday, and Unspoken is OUT TODAY! Gothic Tuesdays and Sleuth Thursdays have been a big project for me, but also a lot of fun, and I hope they’ve been fun for you guys too.
I would be most happy if you guys wanted to read Unspoken–(which, shamelessly linking, one can buy online or in a store: support your local indie. If the book is not in your local store you would be doing me a solid if you asked for it, though of course you do not have to). I would feel I had not blogged in vain! It is the book of my heart, and by talking about Gothic novels and lady sleuths, the jokes I made and the thinky thoughts I had, I hope you guys see what drew me to the idea and the kind of humour and danger I was going for.
I hope you enjoyed this: I hope you enjoy the book. Happy Unspoken day to us all!