It's time for Part Seven of my latest Tale for Our Time: Northanger Abbey, the first novel Jane Austen ever completed. Nancy, a Michigan member of The Mark Steyn Club, tweets:
I just started listening today, so I'm a few episodes behind. But the downloads make it easy to catch up. I wasn't sure I would care for this story, but I'm already hooked! Your excellent introduction was helpful. Great presentation, Mark.
Thank you, Nancy. If you're new to Jane Austen's, this one's the easiest place to start.
In tonight's episode, Catherine is wondering whether she should have bought a new frock:
She lay awake ten minutes on Wednesday night debating between her spotted and her tamboured muslin, and nothing but the shortness of the time prevented her buying a new one for the evening. This would have been an error in judgment, great though not uncommon, from which one of the other sex rather than her own, a brother rather than a great aunt, might have warned her, for man only can be aware of the insensibility of man towards a new gown. It would be mortifying to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little the heart of man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire; how little it is biased by the texture of their muslin, and how unsusceptible of peculiar tenderness towards the spotted, the sprigged, the mull, or the jackonet. Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it.
I'm trying to decide whether I think that's still true. Perhaps it belongs to an age of stricter dress codes for particular events. Today you can wander along to a social occasion and some of the ladies are going baggy, shapeless and casual, and some of the others are in cocktail dresses - and I think the lads tend to notice which is which.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can listen to me read Part Seven of our tale simply by clicking here and logging-in. And, if, like Nancy, you're playing catch-up on Northanger Abbey, you can start fresh with Part One and have a good old binge-listen here.
Please join me tomorrow, Sunday, for the latest audio edition of my Song of the Week on Serenade Radio live around the world at 5.30pm UK time - that's 12.30pm North American Eastern. And, if you like that, stick with SteynOnline for a musical observance of Columbus Day a little later...
If you'd like to join Nancy in The Mark Steyn Club, we'd love to have you along for our fifth season. So please click here for more info - and don't forget, for fellow fans of classic fiction and/or poetry, our Steyn Club Gift Membership.
Comment on this item (members only)
Viewing and submission of reader comments is restricted to Mark Steyn Club members only. If you are not yet a member, please click here to join. If you are already a member, please log in here: