“Dear creature! how much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read The Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”
“Have you, indeed! How glad I am! – What are they all?”
“I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocket-book. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.”
“Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?”
“Yes, quite sure; for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews, a sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read every one of them.” – Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
So, what is this book that Isabella Thorpe recommended to Catherine Moreland?
The story opens with our heroine, Matilda Weimar, fleeing her lecherous uncle and guardian. She seeks refuge in the Castle of Wolfenbach. Only two servants are in residence and the castle is reputed to be haunted. Matilda sets out to explore the empty castle and finds not ghosts but the missing Countess of Wolfenbach.
The Countess is lying in hiding and she is unwilling to say why.
Matilda’s uncle continues to pursue her. Can she escape from his clutches? Will her life always be blighted by her unknown origins?
And what of the Countess? Will she escape and can she ever really be free? What is her secret?
The story speeds along, packed with tales of woe, heroes and villains, titles and society, swooning and fainting, weeping and wailing, swooning and fainting …
And eventually, of course, the good are rewarded and the bad are punished.
“The Castle of Wolfenbach” isn’t great literature but it is very readable and wonderful entertainment.
I like to think that Catherine would have enjoyed it.