Northanger Abbey Chapters 13-15

Chapter 13

We continue to learn about Isabella’s character, and about Catherine’s.

Catherine finally gets to set up the appointment for the walk with the Tilneys, and she is met with entreaties and supplications and then disdain. I love Catherine’s thinking process, that she doesn’t want to disappoint, so she attempts a compromise. That doesn’t work, and while some people might be convinced to do what the majority want, especially people she wishes to continue to like her, she realizes that they are selfish; she understands that they could easily change the day of the walk but just don’t want to. Good job, Catherine!

When John returns from making Catherine’s excuses, my very first thought was “I hate these people!” Anyone else feel that way? Catherine is ill-used by them, and as a reader/observer, I am so upset seeing this. Even her brother James is treating her so terribly. And it dawned on me after I wrote this, they literally are using Catherine for their own ends. Her happiness and needs do not count.

And then I pictured the Tilneys. If you were Eleanor, wouldn’t you be thinking WTF? Things keep being settled and then turned upside down.

“If I couldn’t be persuaded into doing what I thought wrong, I never be tricked into it,” is Catherine’s comment. I think she is wonderful. And she is standing against three very strong-willed people who believe their own happiness is sacrosanct. I believe this is the sort of thing that makes Catherine a heroine.

I am curious: was anyone else surprised or even a bit impressed with Mr. Allen’s response? I really appreciated his comments and attitude and it became clear to me why Catherine’s parents trusted him with their daughter.

Chapter 14

Finally, the walk with the Tilneys occurs.

First, I love that Henry reads novels, and in fact, that he loves them.

Second, I love the banter between Henry and his sister. Well done!

Third, Catherine on history. I loved history as a kid and young adult, so of course, I find her wrong. ;-(  but I do find her very funny…and Henry even funnier:

“That little boys and girls should be tormented,” said Henry, “is what no one at all acquainted with human nature in a civilized state can deny…”  In fact, I think I am Henry.

I was relieved at the end of the chapter that when the walk is over and Catherine is walking home only then did she think of Isabella and James. I love she’d had no thought of them during her time with the Tilneys. I begin to feel that maybe maybe she is finally done with the Thorpes.

Chapter 15

I laughed outloud multiple times in this chapter.

When Isabella is explaining how she had fallen in love with James who is incredibly handsome, we are told that :

Here Catherine secretly acknowledged the power of love; for, though exceedingly fond of her brother, and partial to all his endowments, she had never in her life thought him handsome.

Another great capture of sibling relationships.

Of course, the most important part of this chapter, and really the novel, is the engagement between Isabella and James, an event we have waited for with such eagerness, for Isabella is so in


Pardon my enthusiasm, for I know how great her love is. Why, even if she were in command of millions, or James was, or whatever, she would love him if they were both impoverished. Why, she would live in Richmond in a cottage… (come to find out that Richmond was a very wealthy “suburb” at the time. Sometimes Isabella is a bit loose with her truth).

Of course, one happy wedding should lead to another, always, always in comedies, and fortunately, we see John knows when he has a good thing, and suggests shyly and sweetly that courtship between he and Catherine should also proceed.

I love this exchange:

“Shall not you be late at Devizes?” said Catherine. He made no answer; but after a minute’s silence burst out with, “A famous good thing this marrying scheme, upon my soul! A clever fancy of Morland’s and Belle’s. What do you think of it, Miss Morland? I say it is no bad notion.”

“I am sure I think it a very good one.”

“Do you? That’s honest, by heavens! I am glad you are no enemy to matrimony, however. Did you ever hear the old song ‘Going to One Wedding Brings on Another?’ I say, you will come to Belle’s wedding, I hope.”

“Yes; I have promised your sister to be with her, if possible.”

“And then you know”—twisting himself about and forcing a foolish laugh—“I say, then you know, we may try the truth of this same old song.”

“May we? But I never sing. Well, I wish you a good journey. I dine with Miss Tilney today, and must now be going home.”

OMG! Did anyone else wonder if this was Catherine famously not understanding what was being said to her? Or was she actually deliberately making fun of him? This comment, “May we, but I never sing” is what I desperately hope I would have responded. I love it so much.

And then:

“Nay, but there is no such confounded hurry. Who knows when we may be together again? Not but that I shall be down again by the end of a fortnight, and a devilish long fortnight it will appear to me.”

“Then why do you stay away so long?” replied Catherine—finding that he waited for an answer.

“That is kind of you, however—kind and good-natured. I shall not forget it in a hurry. But you have more good nature and all that, than anybody living, I believe. A monstrous deal of good nature, and it is not only good nature, but you have so much, so much of everything; and then you have such—upon my soul, I do not know anybody like you.”

“Oh! dear, there are a great many people like me, I dare say, only a great deal better. Good morning to you.”

The way they are talking past each completely, neither understanding the other’s meaning, is wonderful to behold. Austen is a master.

So are you eager to hear more of the Isabella and James potential nuptials? Are you eager for the return of John? What do you make of the Tilneys, the brother, the sister?

We have finished volume one at this point. What do you think?

Northanger Abbey Chapters 10-12

What incredibly rich chapters these are!

Chapters 10-12, if nothing else, should cement in us how little we can trust Isabella and John. With Isabella, I suppose, if one wishes to be kind (sigh), we could say she is just overexcited, and self-absorbed, and doesn’t truly mean any harm. I guess we could conclude that on limited acquaintance. But, I think we could also say, she is not to be trusted. I don’t even necessarily mean that darkly, but she exaggerates everything, and she proclaims to deep friendship yet regularly ignores her alleged cherished friend. I think this is in part what draws Catherine to Miss Tilney. Catherine hasn’t realized it completely, but she is definitely feeling left out. I think she is beginning to cotton on that something isn’t quite right about Isabella.

Chapter 10

So I was thinking about how I adore thrillers and mysteries. I love the suspense (though lately with my jangly emotions even fictional suspense is a little difficult). There certainly has been no danger, no sense of possible murder in Northanger Abbey, and yet, for me, this whole business in Chapter 10 as to whether or not Catherine will get to see Miss Tilney carries with it great weight. How does JA do that? This is impressive. And what I realized is this: Catherine really likes Tilney. And I believe she is realizing that Isabella is not the right friend for her and that in Miss Tilney, maybe she could be that new friend. Also, knowing Miss Tilney will help in her relationship with Tilney.  So this new friendship is deeply important.

By this point in the novel, I really like Catherine. And she is a good person, and her desire and goal is pure.  I don’t believe in the end that Isabella can harm Catherine, in that Catherine will make the right decision for herself. But I admire people who do the right thing. So that is the suspense—Catherine will try to do right, but other people can certainly get in her way: Isabella, John….The suspense is, will Catherine be able to overcome these obstacles? Will it take too long and perhaps Miss Tilney and her brother might not want to wait for obstacles to be overcome?  And, simply by Catherine being associated with people who display poor judgment, how much of the bad feelings towards them accrue to her?  In addition, there are social proprieties to observe. These, too, can block relationships from forming. So, suspense is also, will Catherine win or will social mores?

I love that Catherine persists. And I love that there is such great suspense here for me in something that seems so innocuous.

I love the whole exchange with Thorpe at the dance when he claimed that Catherine “owed” him her dances. She is so horrified and appalled, and after he argues with her a bit, he then asks if she thinks Tilney might want to buy a horse. I laughed out loud at this. Here was this great moment of romance, men fighting over her (sort of), and then this. Perfect. Thorpe is such an ass.

The contrast between Tilney and Thorpe is so extreme, it as if they are different species.

I continue to love the exchanges between Tilney and Catherine. She has zero understanding of satire. She takes things at face value (though is learning to see subtlety). She is matter of fact and doesn’t quite grok Tilney’s humor. Since Tilney is kind, and would not harm Catherine, I think he is really good for her. She needs (this is an incredibly biased view on my part) to not be quite so literal.

Chapter 11

Did anyone else think Mrs. Allen’s comment to Catherine that, “I know you never mind dirt” was strange? Mrs. Allen is vapid and self-absorbed, so it probably was just a nothing comment, but I’m an English major. Does it have meaning? Was it judgmental? Hmmm.

This whole business with the walk and the castle are so important.

Here again, Austen takes something that would seem so trivial—going for a walk with new friends, and turns it into a whole social and world catastrophe. Look, Catherine is 17 years old. She’s a teenager! Teenagers (and 57 years old like me) can catastrophize small events. But Austen doesn’t think this is small, and it isn’t. Stupid little social niceties in civilized society (and not so civilized) can doom relationships. And this is part of Austen’s brilliance. She knows that people’s feelings get hurt. She knows that beginning of relationships whether romantic or friendship, are very important. I love that Austen knows when to mock and when to regard something as keen. Added to this is that, again, we like Catherine (I do, anyway) and I want her to be happy.

Is anyone else surprised that Catherine still has any trust at all for Isabella and John?

Was anyone else horrified that John wouldn’t stop the gig?

I think this was played for comedy, but mainly I think it wasn’t. Austen is drawing a connection to Gothic novels throughout. Here is Catherine being kidnapped. Of course Thorpe isn’t going to treat her as a Gothic heroine would be—rushed to his castle where he would threaten rape and abuse and possible murder. But—she wants him to stop, and he doesn’t. Instead, he whips his horses (I hate him), and he shouts at her (I hate him). She is desperate, and she thinks of throwing herself out of the carriage, which would have been dangerous. The text says, she “submits.” I think this is awful.

I feel genuinely upset for Catherine. I hate that she has no control while in the carriage. That she is with an odious man who whips the horses and yells and is a real jerk and she has limited agency. And I hate that she hurts the feelings of the people she cares about and can do nothing about it for the time being. She feels terrible about this. And I believe Austen that Catherine feels desperately upset.

Chapter 12

In praise of Austen again, she does not leave us hanging for long. Catherine delays not in trying to resolve this. She is honest and caring, so she strives to make this better. Her treatment by the Tilneys when she goes to the door is nearly heartbreaking. (Again, isn’t this extraordinary? I love Austen for this, that something as simple as making a social call is raised to such heights. Wow. I am trying to figure out how to do this in my own writing. I think again it comes down to we care about Catherine and her goal and know how sad it will make her to not achieve it. But maybe it is more than that?)

And when at the theater, which she attends with the odious Thorpes (how could she still hang out with them? Yes, I know but still) I love how she rushes out her story to Tilney with no concern that she preserve her own dignity. She accepts responsibility and makes it clear she was upset. And I realized as I was looking at my notes that I forgot to notice that Tilney, while being cold with the bow, does come to the box to talk to her and Mrs. Allen. That’s cool. He didn’t need to do that. He certainly isn’t as open as Catherine, but he went out of his way to come to her. He gave her an opening. He is really mature. I really like him.

Wow, these chapters were so significant to me.  And I haven’t even begun to talk about the importance of money which keeps popping up throughout the novel. The most interesting in these chapters was Thorpe’s insistence that the Morelands are rich, and his inability to understand why James doesn’t own his own carriage.  Needless to say, money is always important in Austen.

Northanger Abbey Chs. 7-9

I love these chapters. We continue to see Austen’s pragmatism, and at least for me, a great understanding of why Catherine is such a terrific heroine, even if she isn’t a practicer of sensibility and sentimentality. I love her moral compass. I love her value system.

What am I harking on about? Look at how she is with John Thorpe. How did you feel about him when you first met him? Well, I don’t remember my initial thoughts, since it has been many years ago that I first read this novel, but reading him this morning, I hated him immediately, even before he said much. His treatment of the horse was enough to put me off.

I continued to dislike him, but as the group was walking down the street through the throngs of people, and he felt the need to rate every woman he saw, I was done with him.

His xenophobia and anti-Semitism were further signs of a despicable person. Notice Catherine’s response to his slur against Mr. Allen. I love that Austen does not provide us with a new suitor to Tilney that is an actual rival. She continues to push against romantic tropes. I love it!!!!

I think Chapter 8 is incredibly important because it shows what matters most to Austen—a theme that runs through all the novels. It is obvious that James is infatuated by Isabella. By this time, we know not to trust Isabella. She’s not evil, she is just vapid. It is so funny (and not, at the same time) that James is so enchanted by her that she is everything and he wishes Catherine to emulate her while at the same time, we know Catherine to be her superior in pretty much every way. Catherine doesn’t know this, but we do. But, because Catherine is wonderful, and her brother truly loves her, (and all the ways that James is not Thorpe) we care for him, even with short acquaintance. And it was in this section that I begin to worry for James. I don’t want him attached to Isabella. She is not right for him.  Keep in mind that in Austen’s time, people didn’t divorce. You were married for life. Austen shows us in all of her novels unhappily married people. For me, this is the first sense of menace in the novel. It isn’t sweet and fun; for me, there is real tension here, and a real sense of foreboding.

In terms of Catherine and Thorpe, I have zero misgivings. I trust Catherine.

There are all sorts of moments that a lesser writer would make much of, and Austen doesn’t do that. I admire that so much. Do you see what I see? Are there moments where you assumed that Austen would go in one direction, but she did something else entirely? Do you wish she’d made other choices?

I love the foiling Austen does. We see Tilney’s sister Eleanor vs. Isabella. We see Thorpe vs. Tilney. We witness different family groups. And Catherine takes this all in, mostly without judgment. She is learning and widening her perspective.  Only occasionally does she make a decision about what she has seen, and at the end of Chapter 9, for example, she concludes, to herself, that Thorpe is disagreeable. I have no fears for Catherine on that front.

What do you make of Thorpe?

Thoughts on Austen’s use of the triangle? (or lack thereof?)

Feelings about Isabella, about James?

Northanger Abbey Chs. 4-6

Chapters 4-6

I love Austen’s commentary on empty-headed people. Her depiction of Mrs. Allen’s joy in meeting with her old friend Mrs. Thorpe is fabulous. Much is made of the fact that they talk more than listen with the goal of impressing the other. True communication is not what is important.

…Mrs. Allen had no similar information to give, no similar triumphs to press on the unwilling and unbelieving ear of her friend, and was forced to sit and appear to listen to all these maternal effusions, consoling herself, however, with the discovery, which her keen eye soon made, that the lace on Mrs. Thorpe’s pelisse was not half so handsome as that on her own.

Chapters 5 and 6 I think are most important for what they show us about Austen’s opinion of novels.

“In general, heroines do not read novels except as a prelude to seduction” –J.M.S. Tompkins The Popular Novel in England

Part of what I love about Northanger Abbey is all the reading and the shared love of Gothic and Romantic texts. In the late 18th/early 19th century, books were extremely expensive. Catherine’s family certainly were doing relatively well financially, but buying books would have been a strain. It is also unlikely that they belonged to a lending library, which at the time would also have been a great expense. Bath, with its bookshops and greater access to books would have delighted Catherine, and thus the lists of books she gets to read. This was a real vacation for her in so many ways.  While Austen likes to make fun of many of the tropes of romantic novels, she doesn’t make fun of the novels or novel reading itself. In fact, Austen’s own family did belong to a lending library service, and in fact, she notes in letters that all her family happily read novels and didn’t go along with the times in condemning novel reading.

Finally, I constantly find things to admire about Catherine. She misses Tilney. She likes Tilney, but unlike what Isabella claims that Catherine must yearn for him, Catherine basically say, hey, I’ve got a great book to read and others to follow, so I’m good. Isabella is a bit gobsmacked by this. Catherine is an innocent, but she is honest and remains true to herself. She really is not a very good Romantic heroine.

What do you think? 

Are novels and libraries, as a character in Sheridan’s The Rivals says, “evergreen trees of diabolical knowledge” ?

I think it is interesting that Austen gives a bit of a lecture (and she isn’t prone to lecturing at all!) on the value of novels. Clearly, she is passionate about this.

Anyone out there a fan of Gothics?  Have you read any of the books discussed on Isabella’s list?

Are any of Austen’s characters at all similar to characters in a Gothic?

Northanger Abbey Chapters 1-3

I desperately want to begin this first post by asking you what you love about Austen and this novel. It is pretty outrageous on my part because maybe you don’t like her and don’t get it.

But if it is OK with you, I am going to start this way.

Here are three things I love (and I need you to know this is difficult for me because there are at least 8 things I want to say!)

This is a clumsy way to say this, but I love how Austen is pitting her novel’s heroine against heroines of romantic literature. In Chapter One, Austen has our heroine’s parents say, in very unromantic fashion: “Catherine grows quite a good looking girl,-she is almost pretty today.”  Heroines are supposed to be uncommonly beautiful!

I will try to tone this down.

I love this opening paragraph to Ch. 2. (I copied and pasted this from The Gutenberg Project, and I would urge anyone who wishes to share a passage to do the same.)

 In addition to what has been already said of Catherine Morland’s personal and mental endowments, when about to be launched into all the difficulties and dangers of a six weeks’ residence in Bath, it may be stated, for the reader’s more certain information, lest the following pages should otherwise fail of giving any idea of what her character is meant to be, that her heart was affectionate; her disposition cheerful and open, without conceit or affectation of any kind—her manners just removed from the awkwardness and shyness of a girl; her person pleasing, and, when in good looks, pretty—and her mind about as ignorant and uninformed as the female mind at seventeen usually is.

Austen gently mocks her protagonist, but somehow, despite the wry humor (a term my colleague Kirsten Komara just used about Austen) there is such a sense of kindness about Austen, a deep humanity.

And finally, I love Tilney. I love his sense of humor. I love his kindness towards Catherine. And, I’ve argued in my past as a graduate student that Austen is a feminist and was influenced by Wollstonecraft (more on that much much later.) I love this phrase by Tilney in Chapter 3 when he and Catherine are arguing about accomplishments and aesthetics. “Excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes.”  He is perfect! He’s the one!

OK. I am now being a little silly.

What did you enjoy?

What do you make of her tone?

Did anything throw you off?

Did you read this and wonder once again why it is that everyone loves Austen and she just leaves you cold?

Let us know what you think.

If you can stand a final thought, I realized as I was reading last night that I had a constant smile while reading these chapters. Austen touches and creates such delight in me.

I’m eager to hear what you think.

Welcome to Northanger Abbey!!!

 “Jane Austen? I feel I am approaching dangerous ground. The reputation of Jane Austen is surrounded by cohorts of defenders who are ready to do murder for their sacred cause.” Arnold Bennett, 1927, Literary Critic 

While talking to a friend about #AustenTogether, she said she was eager to do this though she was a bit nervous because she considered herself “an Austen failure.” No!

If you are someone who loves Austen, welcome. We are excited to hear your commentary!

If you are someone who has never read Austen, but maybe you’ve seen the movies, and you want to know what all the fuss is about, welcome! At some point, we need to talk about the novels vs. the movies. I will make what might be an astounding claim right now: I have never seen a movie based on an Austen novel. (Don’t fight me on this yet—we can discuss later. 😉

If you have tried to read Austen in the past, and it just didn’t work for you, I’m hoping you’ll give this first novel a go. In some ways, it isn’t as practiced and smooth as Pride and Prejudice, the novel most are familiar with. But I think it is filled with wit, and with a love of reading, and great examples of friendship and family dynamics.

I love Austen’s style of writing, but it might take awhile for you to adjust. That’s fine. Please point out sentences you don’t quite get, and we’ll jump in and help. Also, Austen can be outright and sharply funny, but she also often writes in a very nuanced fashion. When you first begin to read her, you might find that you are missing things. She isn’t trying to hide anything (I have just come from reading freshman essays where a few of my students talk about the hidden messages in the text. I don’t think Austen is deliberately hiding things from us.) So please, if you think you are missing something, share. And those of you who notice an interesting nuance, please point it out. Every time I read Austen, I find new points to consider. This delights me. I see her work as being quite rich.

What is happening this week:

  • We will discuss the first three chapters beginning at noon, Monday, May 11.
  • If something struck your fancy while reading, either something that amused or confused you, please post about it. Anything you post on Twitter that has #AustenTogether in it will be seen by people watching that hashtag. If you want to be sure I see it, include @MysteryPhD too.

For example:

@MysteryPhD Reading Austen has changed my life! #AustenTogether

  • Our plan is to read 3 chapters a day every day.
  • I am going to create a separate section in the blog for people who are so inclined to share their connection to Austen
  • Before noon tomorrow, on the blog and on Twitter, I will post a thought about the initial chapters, which you can use or ignore as you wish. You may post your comments there if you would prefer not to use Twitter. The blog post will be up by noon on Monday.

Thank you so much for being a part of this. Thinking about reading Austen right now makes me feel giddy, and in these times, that is something that I need.

Acorn TV

In Pandemic Time, what I am calling Now Times, I am taking advantage of additional TV time.  I love British crime shows, and when I discovered that Acorn TV was offering a 30 day free policy, I was thrilled to take advantage of it.

It will cost me money if I choose to continue, and frankly, I haven’t made up my mind about that yet. I’ve surprised myself. I adore television, and I figured, since reading has become difficult for me, that I would be spending much more time watching TV. I haven’t. I do about 2-3 hours a day, and some days don’t watch any at all. I mention this because I’ve watched far less than I expected to.

This month, I have only watched Acorn so as to take full advantage.

Here is my list of favorite programs in order of delight.

  1. No Offence
  2. The Blue Rose
  3. Pie in the Sky
  4. Newton’s Law
  5. Agatha Raisin

Unfinished shows that are worth a look:

  1. Above Suspicion
  2. Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime

For the first five, I watched the entire series for each.

No Offence is one of the best police procedurals I’ve ever seen. I love it! It is female-centric. It, unlike so many other police procedurals, truly shows the different ranks of cops and how they work together. (Definitely fantasy, but still). This is not a show that suggests people in the lower ranks are not as vital as those in the highest. The show is crafty and sneaky and clever. I did predict some things—I am good at this. But I was also taken by surprise, several times. Just read there will be a fourth series. Yay!

I am surprised I placed The Blue Rose so high on the list. I actually think it is in a tie with Pie in the Sky, but I might rank it slightly above. Anyway, it has a terrific premise. Workers (and a couple of outsiders who are connected)  at a law firm come together to prove that the death of a fellow worker was murder. The entire series is these people working together to gather information. You will be guessing throughout. Terrific character development. Some wonderful humor. Lots of conflict. Very twisty. Blue Rose is from New Zealand and only one series.

Pie in the Sky is traditional/cozy mixed with some police procedural. Our protag is an inspector who opens a restaurant and for reasons has to continue to be a cop occasionally. The cop aspects often made me upset (you’ll see why), but the mystery part is often quite good. My favorite scenes though, and this surprised me, take place in the restaurant. Our protagonist is a true gourmand and wonderful cook. I also greatly enjoyed his relationship with his wife. Some really good political commentary, and its concern about issues of race and other things makes me even more confused about Midsommer Murders and its white as snow cast that lasted for the first several years. Pie in the Sky is a 90s show.

Newton’s Law follows closely on Pie in the Sky. It is from Australia and takes place in a law firm. Newton is a woman who runs rings around her colleagues. Wonderful multi-ethnic cast, and wow, some good political moments throughout. This is a comedy-drama leaning on comedy. It is a newish show and only has one series, and sadly, was canceled.

Agatha Raisin is based on the book series by M. C. Beaton. My favorite series by Beaton is her Hamish MacBeth one (I’m speaking books, not TV. There is a television series based on Hamish, and I couldn’t get through the first episode.) Anyway, It took me awhile to appreciate the Agatha Raisin book series, but I came to love them. The TV series leaves me uncertain. Aspects of it are terrific, but in other ways, it doesn’t work for me. I have watched all 3 of the series, and I’ll probably watch more, but it doesn’t fill me with delight. And I think I preferred the first series, and series 2 and 3 have completely changed the writers etc, so hmph. But, I am glad I saw it. These are comedy/drama leaning on comedy. Cozyish/traditional.

Unfinished Shows:

Above Suspicion was a really good show, but the first episode bugged me, and I am nervous to start the second. It is a feminist thing—and depending on the direction the second episode takes, I’ll either love it or hate it, and I in the sort of mood that I’d rather not be even more pissed off then I am already. I think it is worth giving the second episode a look, so if I end up loving this show, I will let you know. I can tell you it is leaning hard boiled/police procedural, with one male and one female as leads. He’s her boss and very much a jerk. (Perhaps you can understand what my problem might be.) Anyway.

Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime is also quite good. I love Christie, but I have a problem with historical shows. It’s me. And sometimes I’m fine with them (I adore David Suchet’s Poirot, for example) but I don’t know, sometimes I’m not. The first episode of PiC was fine, but aspects just bugged me and I never finished it. Again, I know myself well enough to believe that many people would be delighted in this series, and I might even come back to it. Too much else to see on TV so I’m letting it go for now.

If you would like to check out Acorn TV and get 30 days free:

You can also get free access to Acorn TV at Cuyahoga County Public Library (scroll down to “Hoopla”) and several other library systems as well.

Do you have a favorite show on Acorn? Please share! And also, let me know if you think this is now a service I should pay for. I believe the cost is $5.99 a month. If you have it and use it, I would love to hear.

I Love Crime on TV

Here are my top ten favorite crime shows on TV. What are yours?

I love television.

But mainly, I love television about crime.

I want mystery, I want spy thrillers, and I want police procedurals.

Sometimes I love intellectual puzzles; other times, I want breezy dialogues. Frequently, I want something exciting and daring and surprising.

Many folks are turning to television during the quarantine. In this, my first post, I want to share with you my top 10 crime television shows. I love them.

My hope is that you will find something here that you haven’t watched before and that it will make you happy and intrigued and enmeshed in the story.

These are not in order of importance.

  1. Person of Interest (Netflix and Amazon)
  2. The Closer* (Hulu)
  3. Major Crimes* (Roku; Amazon)
  4. Quantico (Netflix; Amazon)
  5. Psych (Amazon)
  6. The Good Wife (Amazon $)
  7. Chuck (Amazon)
  8. Leverage (Sundance, Pluto TV among others)
  9. Castle (Amazon)
  10. Burn Notice (Amazon; Hulu)

*I urge you to watch The Closer first and then Major Crimes second.

I realize this doesn’t help you right now, but most of these are available in DvD from Cuyahoga County Public Library. The Closer is available from Cleveland Public Library.

It is quite possible you are looking at my list and thinking, but she didn’t include x, or wait, these aren’t all crime shows (I think they are—let’s debate!), or wow, in general, she doesn’t like things that are very dark. True.

Here’s how this part of the blog will work:

I love lists, and most of the time, each blog post will be a list of different television programs somehow related to crime programs. Sometimes they’ll be about the best first seasons, or the most surprising shows, or, the most melodramatic, or ones I couldn’t finish, or mini-series.

I’m hoping that people will read my blog and contribute. I would love for folks to list their top 5 or top 10 crime shows. I’m sure that there are many shows I’m not even aware of. Enlighten me!

My next blog post discusses these favored 10 including tone, subgenre, whether you can watch with kids, number of seasons….

I look forward to hearing what you think.

Which show did I miss?

Which show wouldn’t you have included?

What show have you eagerly consumed while during this pandemic?

Share please so we can enjoy the wealth!

Crime TV: Part 2

What is great about my ten favorite crime shows on TV.

In my first post, I shared my 10 favorite crime shows. In this post, I am going to explain why these 10, and hopefully give you a little information to help you figure out if you want to watch them.

  1. Person of Interest: Wikipedia calls this a science fiction crime drama, and I guess I can go along with that. It is a show about corruption–of the government, of the police, and individual attempts to fight for justice and good. The show can be dark, but it has hope. Terrific character development. Great fighting scenes. Violence. Everything does not turn out for the best, and there are lots of surprises that are earned. Great for teens. Might be too dark for younger kids. 5 seasons.
  2. The Closer: female lead whose skill is in interrogation. Her strategy is fabulous. Not quite as dark a show as POI. Comedic touches in a wonderful cast. Good contrast between darkness and light. Great character development. Not sure kids would find this interesting. Sort of cerebral. Some of the violence is dark so OK for teens. 7 seasons
  3. Major Crimes: follows on The Closer. Similar cast. Continuing dark vs. light. In both shows, the puzzle is wonderful and not obvious. Sometimes ethical and moral dilemmas. Not sure kids would find this interesting. Sort of cerebral. Some of the violence is dark so OK for teens.5 seasons
  4. Quantico: First year of FBI training. Different people, different ages, religions, ethnicities, genders, political leanings, skill levels. Immediate undercurrent of something is wrong. Occasionally crosses the line into sensationalism, and melodrama and then back into a cold spy story. If you are sucked in like I was, you won’t want to stop watching. Probably not for kids. Teens might really like it, especially the first 2 seasons. 3 seasons
  5. Psych: Two detectives, one reluctant. One has a gift, the other is his dear friend. One of my favorite bromance shows.  One of the lighter shows on the list though as the seasons continue the show goes real dark and then comes out of it.  I love the character development and the fun mystery plots. Fine for kids and teens. 8 seasons
  6. The Good Wife: I avoided this show for years until I finally heard too many good things to let it go. I became obsessed with it.  It has been compared in some ways to Breaking Bad, but it isn’t how I see the program. The premise is a wife who stands by her philandering husband, the governor of a state and what happens when she decides she no longer wants to “support” him. The crime element comes in in that she returns to the practice of law, something she left behind many years earlier, and there is much courtroom drama and political intrigue. For the most part, intellectual and family drama level of emotion. Probably not for kids. Older teens OK. 7 seasons
  7. Chuck is a thrilling yet leaning on the comedy spy show. Lots of fighting and technology action. Great character development, a terrific arc (really, all the shows I mention except possibly Psych have terrific arcs), and heart warming to boot. This was another show that I couldn’t wait till the very next episode. Great show for kids as well, particularly teens. 5 seasons
  8. Leverage is about a group of criminals and one non-criminal who work together to help those who have been harmed. All five have skills: computer hacking, con artist skills, fighting with training in pretty much every weapon and martial art, and thievery. This is a feel good show. It is funny with some dark moments. It too has an arc, with an emphasis on character development. Another good one for teens as well. 5 seasons
  9. Castle is kind of the surprise, to me, on this list. I kind of liked it my first time watching it, but I resisted it. I actually stopped watching after second episode and it took a couple of years before I started watching it again. I am a huge Nathan Fillion fan (because Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and that’s what made me try again. Castle is a mystery writer who faces writer’s block. He teams up with a female cop, and together they solve crime. It was watching the series the second time that made me love it. I’m still not crazy about the key romance in the show, but I love Castle and his family (possibly my favorite grandmother, son, and granddaughter pairing ever) and I love the cops as their own unit. Good for teens and younger. Hopeful show. Never gets too dark. Lots of comedic touches. Good for whole family. 8 seasons
  10. Burn Notice is a fantastic spy show. I love the individual episodes and the arc that runs the show. Unlike Castle, I adore the romance in this show. I really love the friendships between the operatives. Our hero, Michael Weston, explains spy craft in every episode. This show, like all the ones on my list, makes it clear that women are as capable as men in doing this kind of work. Violence, action, things go boom nearly every episode. Justice show—good people being helped. Some moral ambiguity, some darkness, though there is hope…mostly sort of, but that’s really mainly in the last season. Until then, if you want a pick me up, this will almost always do it. Probably not for kids. Good show for teens. 7 seasons


Have you heard about #TolstoyTogether? Let’s do #AustenTogether!

Recently, I was listening to an NPR story about a Princeton professor who began a virtual book club with the goal of reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace. She expected to have a handful of readers, and was surprised that within a short period of time, it grew to over 3,000 members.

I’ve read War and Peace, over 30 years ago, and I liked it, but I have no interest in reading it again. I then wondered, what author do I love, and what author do I love that might be considered a touchstone for others? The beauty of #TolstoyTogether is that for many people it is a love affair with Tolstoy, and there is pleasure in reading a well-loved novel, but for many others, it is seen as an important and difficult read.  Some people might feel they need a group to help them with what they consider to be a difficult book.

My favorite author is Jane Austen, and I think she fits the bill nicely. Many adore her. We find her funny and incisive and brilliant. Others are afraid of her. They sometimes feel she is beyond them.

My friend Kirsten Komara and I would like to invite you to read Jane Austen’s six completed novels with us. We’ll begin with Northanger Abbey. We are in the constantly delighted by Austen group, and we would love to share our knowledge and joy in her works.

Austen’s chapters are quite short. Our plan is to read 3 chapters a day, and that works out to about 15 pages at a time. At this rate, with Northanger Abbey, we will finish within 2 weeks. Kirsten and I plan on asking each other questions or pointing out interesting passages. We are hoping that other readers will share their take and observations.

How it will work:

Beginning May 11, we will have read the first three chapters of Northanger Abbey.

For people in Cleveland, if you don’t have a copy of the book, it is available as an ebook from Cleveland Public Library. You could also order it from Mac’s Backs or Loganberry Books. And it’s on Project Gutenberg! Totally free!

If you are outside of Cleveland, like say, in Texas, how about supporting your independent bookstore by ordering from Bookshop?

Northanger Abbey is also available free through the Gutenberg Project online.

Questions and thoughts will be posted on Katherine’s Twitter Feed @MysteryPhD; look for hashtag #AustenTogether.

We have no idea if anyone will be interested in joining us—but if you do, and if you have read Northanger Abbey before, please don’t give any spoilers. We will work hard to stay within the parameters of the text we’ve read up to for that day.

We hope that you will join us. We are quite excited to dive back into Austen. She will lift us up and out of our Stay at Home world.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Katherine at

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