Saturday, April 14, 2012

Debra White Smith Reviews: Northpointe Chalet

Oh Lord. I have no idea how to describe this. It’s just…it’s the worst. I really, honestly did not like this book. The characters were unlikable, the story line unbelievable. I know it would be difficult to translate what was essentially a Gothic parody to modern terms, but…somehow, it could have been done much better. (Actually, if one wanted to, one could update it so that the Catherine character has been reading too many Twilight novels…)

Kathy has moved to the town of Northpointe to get away from her smothering parents and start her own bookshop. Though twenty four, she is still quite dreamy, spending her spare time devouring mystery novels. At a local picnic she meets a pastor, Ben Tilman, who, though seeming to like her, thinks her far too young and naïve to be a wife, based on the fact she dresses in printed t-shirts and jeans. (Oh, so immature!)

This is where it starts failing. Firstly, it’s one thing to have a very naïve, inexperienced seventeen year old Catherine scare herself silly with a spooky novel. It’s another thing to have an otherwise intelligent and fairly discerning twenty four year old (MY AGE, I ADD) listen to the town drunk ramble about a supposed murder and believe him.

Secondly, the Henry character failed. He failed so bad. In Northanger Abbey, Henry was kind, witty, flirtatious, and intelligent. The Henry expy in this book seemed like he read Pride and Prejudice and tried-and failed-to pretend to be Darcy. He is staid and actually a bit severe. It’s hard to find what Kathy sees in him.

Thirdly, the Eleanor subplot really made no sense. In this book, she has actually secretly married her love interest, and is still living at home while meeting her husband at a hotel. That’s just…bizarre. Truly, truly bizarre.

And then, the Henry character fails even further, in that he stops seeing Kathy because his father doesn’t like her. The Henry of the original had loads more backbone than that. He stood up to his father and gained his woman. In this book, it took Kathy making him read a self-help book about keeping a healthy distance from difficult parents to get them back together. WHAT? In fact, the entire thing was far too convoluted. First we think Kathy is ridiculous for believing the town drunk. Then we find out that Henry’s father is actually an even bigger jerk than the one in the original. In the original he was severe and a bit mean. In this he actually did abuse his wife previously, which makes one wonder why Henry gets so offended when Kathy could imagine the man killing his wife in a fit of rage at some point. Are we in Opposite Land here?

No, this was not a likeable book at all. I’ll return to Northanger Abbey any day, with its thunderstorms and locked cabinets and witty Henry. Heck, I’ll sit and listen to Udolpho’s Emily ramble in her pure pureness about pure things before I’d read this again.

On the other hand, if you're up for some Witty Henry...


  1. So, are all of her books supposed to be modern updates of Jane Austen stories?

    1. Yes. Like I said, most of them work pretty well. This one...just kind of failed.