Seven Years Later
by G.B. Stern
in
More About Jane Austen

Hardcover ( 1949)
Harper & Brothers Publishers



        Review by Linda Waldemar, November 15, 2000
In a book of essays about the characters that inhabit Jane Austen's six major novels, in one chapter, the author lets loose her fancy to imagine what has happened to several characters after seven years has passed since the novel's end.  She says:
Jane Austen's gift of creating characters that, once we know them, are forever a quick and not dead, has an inevitable consequence bequeathed us these characters in a Last Will and Testament of which oddly enough she was unconscious, though she signed it herself. For our fancy, restless and insatiable, will nt allow them to stay in place at the point where the author leaves them. She has less right than we have to speculate on their future state, for it is she, that teasing creature, who is responsible for planting an appetite that cannot be fully enough satisfied; cannot allow us to say "Let us think no more of Catherine and Henry" etc., and to be done with them.
The Tilneys are discussing their plans for a Chrismas house party at Northanger Abbey.  General Tilney has become a doating grandfather to Catherine and Henry's three children and Eleanor's only offspring, the future little Viscount. They are expecting Captain Tilney, James Morland and Eleanor's husband, but are surprised when the arriving visitor turns out to be Miss Isabella Thorpe.  She immediately threw herself in Catherine's arms and poured forth a flood of pleasure in their reunion and then a tale of woe.  Henry is concerned that his good natured wife might still be influenced by the tale of distress. She had come to seek the General's influence on behalf of her betrothed, a junior lieutenant and showed an intention of a long visit.

By excessive admiration of his grandchildren, Isabella recommended herself to the General. Henry discusses the danger with Eleanor and decides to spin a tale to his father; that to allow the beautiful adventuress and his titled son-in-law to meet under the same roof might easily prove fatal to Eleanor's happiness.  With that, General Tilney reverts to form and orders Miss Thorpe to leave the Abbey.  Catherine must perform the odious task of telling her friend that she is not welcome at Northanger nor at Woodston. Isabella accepted all of Catherine's money and departed coldly at 6:00 am the next morning.