What the Austen? Podcast

Episode 49: The Monk Uncovered ~ Catherine Morland's reading list with Martha

October 08, 2023 Episode 49
What the Austen? Podcast
Episode 49: The Monk Uncovered ~ Catherine Morland's reading list with Martha
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Prepare to be disturbed as we delve into the eerie world of Matthew Lewis' gothic classic "The Monk" for this years Catherine Morland's reading list episode. I'm joined by Martha as we dissect this haunting tale set in Madrid, known for its unsettling themes of morality and sin.

We expose the supernatural elements intertwined within the tale, from spectral apparitions, to witchcraft and obsession. We also shed light on the disturbing plot twists that keep listeners on their edge. From Ambrosio's notorious reputation and his fear of tarnishing it, to Matilda's shocking revelation, we leave no stone unturned. The strange connections between the characters and the cryptic events add layers to the story, making it a riveting listen.

Disclaimer: This episode does feature conversations of sexual assault including non consensual sex as this is a heavy theme in the novel.

Cheat Sheets: https://www.whattheausten.com/post/the-monk-by-matthew-lewis-1796-cheat-sheets

Tune into last years spooky season ep where we discussed The Mysteries of Udolpho.

Where can you find Martha?
Instagram: @marthabethanreads
Episode 10: Bridgerton Gossip (S1, S2 and the books)
Episode 21: The Mysteries of Udolpho
Episodes 31 - 36: Taylor Swift series

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Where can you find your host (Izzy)?
Website: www.whattheausten.com
Podcast Instagram: @whattheausten
Personal Instagram: @izzy_meakin
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Izzy:

Hi Jay Knights, and welcome back to the what the Austin podcast. And it's spooky season. Yay, I'm so excited. This is my favorite season, so super chopped about it, and I also love it because the two episodes that come out in October are this one that I'm doing today with Martha, which is when we cover one of Catherine Morland's Reads, and then the other one is Villanoff. So it's a good month for the podcast for sure. But today the book that we've decided to cover this year is the Monk by Matthew Lewis, which is another monk, is another monk is another book that's mentioned by Catherine and John Thorpe and Isabella in North Anger Abbey. So this is a really fun one. So last year we did Mysteries of Udolfo, which was a crazy but fun read, and I love that, and the show we're doing, the Monk, which has been a crazy, not quite so fun, a little bit traumatic read. So before we get into it, I just want to put a trigger warning out there. There is going to be conversations about sexual assault in this, because that's quite a heavy theme of the book. So yeah, I just want to let people know that before we get going. If that's something that's obviously going to be distressing to you. I don't want you to tune into this episode. Martha, welcome, welcome back. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, I'm so excited. So I mean, I think our plan is to run through this like we did the Mysteries of Udolfo episode. Right, we're just going to go chronologically through the book and share our thoughts. Yeah, that works.

Martha:

So I didn't really know what to expect going into this book. And it may be like the oldest four novel I've read, just thinking because it was published in like 1796, which is obviously quite an old book. Obviously I really love Austin and that's all time period, which is a little bit later Now. I'm not remembering the Mysteries of Udolfo was, but I think it was a very similar era and it was very. It was very like exciting first volume. Like I was really really invested in the book and I thought the character is really interesting and it's set in Madrid. So it was kind of an area of history that I haven't really read about like in terms of like literature. And it's really interesting the way that these these gothic writers in that period were not setting their books in England, save of Mysteries of Udolfo that one said set in Italy. So I thought the setting was really interesting and I it kind of launches like straight in to some of the characters. There's not a lot of preamble and we meet Leonella, who was absolutely hilarious, and her niece, antonia. So like I found the first couple volumes brilliant and then the third one it just went off the rails, I think a little bit.

Izzy:

Oh my God, no, I was the same. So when we started I was like messaging you like, oh my gosh, this is so fun, because I was like really getting Mysteries of Udolfo vibes, which it's highest was like hilarious. And I think actually the first volume of this in parts was actually funnier, like especially with her aunt at the start. We'll get into like the content, obviously as we talk through this guys, but yeah, the first volume is really funny. The second volume wasn't necessarily just stressing, it was just like it started to get a lot more like super natural and like kind of like magical. And then, yeah, the third volume, it was just it just went like zero to 100 real quick and got very dark To the extent that I was like, yes, there's gothic novels in the terms like you have like dark castles and you have like supernatural elements, but this was like beyond gothic, this was just like dark and disturbing. In the third volume, yeah, I completely agree.

Martha:

If I was really enjoying it early on, and by the end I was a bit like I don't know if I like this book anymore. I'm not. It was like making me. It was very, it was very uncomfortable read, I think, the third volume and there's a lot of things about like sin and like good versus evil and those types of things, and there was a conclusion, but I wasn't that satisfied with how it all kind of came together. I feel like the good characters, some of the good characters suffered a lot more than some of the bad characters, which I found, yes, difficult.

Izzy:

I love that you said that actually, because when I was reading it I was like I don't really know where Lewis falls on this. Like I actually found it really confusing. I was like is he against the Catholic faith? Is he trying to uphold it? Is he just I don't know? It was really strange. I kind of felt like it was leaning more towards that he was against it. But then when it came to anything else that was outside of the Catholic faith, that also wasn't so great either. It was confusing. It was like this is sinful, but also is that the fault of the Catholic Church that people are pushed to sin? But it was like but if you do sing, you still suffer.

Martha:

So I was like I'm not sure. Yeah, I definitely. I think I got the impression that he was against the Catholic Church, which would make sense him, him being English and England being a very Protestant country at that time and kind of how, how they have these kind of figures in the Catholic Church and in lots of religions. But where the monk Ambrosia which I thought was hilarious because it kept making me think of the custard, like how he was so like revered by everyone around in Madrid and in the monastery where he lived, but actually deep down he wasn't a good person and he wanted to keep those secrets from everyone. And also how he convinced himself that what he was doing was okay and that he could just repent and they would all be fine. But obviously that isn't how it turns out in the book. He, he can't repent that and actually everything he does is so far beyond redemption that it's good that that's not the fix. It isn't, or I can just confess and it will be fine.

Izzy:

Yes, yeah, there was definitely like an emphasis that like authority figures in the Catholic Church are like really not very nice, because it was also the same that there was like the head nun. She was also not very nice either. I think it'd be good to kind of explain how Ambrosia was introduced to us. So when we start out the book, we're introduced to a few characters. We're introduced to Lorenzo and Tonya. What's? The aunt called Antonia?

Martha:

Leonela.

Izzy:

Leonela. And then we've got Lorenzo's friend, who's not in it that much. I don't know if his name is that significant. Do you remember his name? I want to say Raymond. No, raymond's the guy later. Raymond's the guy who's with Agnes. I can't remember what his friend's name is, but that's okay because he's not that significant. He's a funny guy. But, yeah, he doesn't need a name, it's okay. So Lorenzo sees Antonia and Lorella. They're coming into the church and the church is packed, so there's tons of people in there and everyone's like why is it so busy? And it's because words got around about Ambrosia being this like incredible monk who really like preaches the best sermons, even though he's only done like two or three in the past. He's like renowned for being this incredible person and like the chosen person that people go to for confessions. He's basically famous in Madrid at this point. And so they happen to cross paths, because Antonia and I aren't looking for a seat and they end up sitting next to Lorenzo and his friend. Yeah, do you want to pick up from there?

Martha:

Yeah. So they sit down and they get to talking and Leonela and Antonia are kind of new, coming back to Madrid. So Antonia's mother, elvira who we haven't met yet but we do meet, not that further along, she's not very well, so they've come back but she originally was from that area and she married someone without the permission of the family and they were basically cut off. So her husband has passed away and they come back trying to reach out to her brother-in-law to be like she knows she's dying and she wants support for her daughter when she dies from the family. So that's why they come back and she's starting to meet these characters and the different people in the town. And then they're new to Madrid. So they're like why is everyone here? What are all these people doing in this church? It's so busy and they hear the monks speak and they're really impressed with him. But they also make friends with Lorenzo and his friend, and Leonela that aren't, who I thought was hilarious is convinced that one of them wants to marry her. So she's never been married and she's obviously older and the guy was just like, where has she got this from? Like, why does she think this?

Izzy:

I've spoken to her for like yeah, she's like she's like she's gonna come around and propose to me and he was like no, like who are? She's? Like I know you're in love with me. It's so funny. And what's hilarious is Antonia, in comparison, is like beautiful, like she's described as kind of like mesmerizing. Lorenzo basically falls instantly in love with her.

Martha:

Yeah, and then he? He goes around to visit, doesn't he, and meets her mother as well. But her fear is that Antonia would follow a similar path to herself. So she's not keen on Lorenzo pursuing her daughter unless he has the permission of his uncle, who is like the Duke of Medina, I think he was, so he's quite an important person. But she's adamant that unless he has that permission, he doesn't want, she doesn't want Antonia ending up in the same position where they get exiled because they haven't followed the rules, yeah, 100%.

Izzy:

And when they're in the church and Ambrosia walks through the door, everybody, like we said, was completely mesmerized, particularly Antonia, who is she sees him and she almost has like this familiarity with him where she kind of recognizes him, but more that she recognizes something in herself about him, or at least she thinks that she recognizes something in herself when she looks at him, because people describe him as being really innocent. Chastity is like super important when, like you're a monk, and that's really emphasized in the book as well, and she recognizes her innocence when his innocence is described and basically, yeah, he leaves. We meet some other people. But Lorenzo spends some time pondering over the fact that he's basically convinced he wants to marry Antonia, even though they've literally just met. He's like mesmerized by wants to marry her and he's like wandering around the church and he falls out with his friend, doesn't he Like? Him and his friend get into like a dispute, they like fall out. And then he falls asleep and has the wildest dream about Antonia. She's like she's in like a wedding attire and she's like a bride, and then this monster comes and grabs her. And I just thought this was the wildest thing, the guy having like a full on fever dream. This monster comes and grabs her and like drags her away, but then she escapes and turns into like an angel and he wakes up like totally freaked out, like what on earth is I just see in like what is going on, and in the process also sees somebody in the shadows leaving a letter which becomes important later on. I think one of the main things to emphasize about this book is everybody's intertwined some way and we eventually find out how. But yeah, so that that happens, which I see this one the first like supernatural elements. I feel like that's the first. There's a lot of foreshadowing in the book and that's the first sign of foreshadowing, I would say the fact that he has these like prophetic dreams where he's like oh my gosh, what is this? Yeah, but that was that scene. Just like mad, I can't believe it. And it was like right off the bat I was like gosh, we're not messing around here, this is a gothic novel.

Martha:

Yeah, and that was a really like you said, like that was the first bit of foreshadowing we had which we actually have a lot of in the book. So, um, lea and Ella and Antonia meet a gypsy and Antonia is really like determined that she wants her her future read and she does, and it's not a very happy future to be read and actually the gypsy is correct and that's kind of how it plays out for her and there's similar things with her mom and her dreams of her mom later on in the novel. So there's so much foreshadowing and actually it's very clever novel pieces together really well at the end and there's a lot that goes on. It's just the end was very dramatic and a lot to read yeah, it was just like mad.

Izzy:

What was so funny when they went to see the fortune teller is what she said about her aunt. She was like no amount of makeup will help you. Stop focusing on men. You need to focus on God, because you're not going to get a man. I was dying. I was like, oh God, that's brutal.

Martha:

Yeah, because she the gypsy as well, the fortune teller, talks a lot about how beautiful Antonia is, and I think she basically says to Lea and Ella there's no point in me telling your future, you're already gone.

Izzy:

It's so funny. Oh, I'm sorry, I just like swivelled my thing. Yeah, no, absolutely, and yeah. So basically Antonia's fortune is something along the lines of that she is going to attract somebody in who's going to be like this horrible predator that she's like. Her beauty and her innocence will draw in somebody who's not very nice at all and at this point we don't really know who that is. But considering the books called the Monk, I kind of had like an idea that it might be him, but I wasn't sure. And then how things start to play out after this point. So we kind of shift timelines back to Ambrosia at this point, right, and we start seeing things from his perspective. And the first vibe I got from him so Ambrosia is the monk. He is very conceited, very prideful, because everybody is being adoring him and he's so famous in Madrid. Now it's basically gone to his head and he's just like a little bit narcissistic, for lack of a better term.

Martha:

Yeah, I would fully agree, and I think part of that comes from kind of his backstory. So we find out that he was kind of adopted by the monastery, like he was left quite young and was just left there and he's never left it, apart from to attend the church but which is still within the same area. So he's never left this space. So he's not really got much of a concept of the outside world beyond religion and the monastery and his belief in God.

Izzy:

So I think the celebrity status that he gets without even leaving where he lives basically really really gives him that kind of sense of importance which he wouldn't have had before then yeah, I think what's interesting as well, like he talks about, I feel like it's really shown how enforced, like a vow of trust he is and he's like talks about the fact that he's I think someone even mentions that like he wouldn't know the difference between a man and a woman, like biologically, because that's how, like undrivening his bisexual desires, which obviously unravels dramatically. But yeah, he's almost seen as like the perfect monk. But he has a friend, also an apprentice at the monastery as well, and that is Rosario. So Rosario turns up on the scene and they're like good friends. I'd say Ambrosio even kind of considers him like a son in a way, do you not think? Like he's kind of like I don't know, like I know they call each other like father, son and everything, but he's like very caring towards him and he's like how can I help you and everything. And Rosario says that his friends ill and he really wants Ambrosio to pray on it. So this is the first time we're introduced to him in. I wasn't actually sure how significant this person would be. But oh my God, does this person become significant? I was a whirlwind just with this one character, I swear to God. So I feel like it's not long after this that they go to the garden together and Rosario starts saying about how he has this sister, matilda, and how Matilda fell in love with this man. But it was totally unrequited and he just kicks her out of the house and she was devastated and Rosario's well, ambrosio's like to Rosario. He's like I'm so sorry, that's so terrible. And Rosario's like well, feel sorry for me because I'm going through the same thing. Ambrosio has no idea what he's talking about. And then, out of nowhere, rosario's like actually I'm a woman. And Ambrosio's like what? Like, what is going on here? Not only am I a woman, I'm also Matilda, who I was just talking about, and I've been obsessed with you forever. You're actually the unrequited love that I have. I've basically been stalking you for for months because I'm obsessed with you. Please don't let me leave. Like, please don't make me leave. In, ambrosio's like what just happened. And we're reading it like what just happened.

Martha:

Yeah, and from that point his biggest concern is immediately oh well, you have to leave because it's my reputation, people think of me as this person and actually you can't be here because you will, you will ruin that reputation. So his immediate reasoning is himself and how people view him. So he I think Matilda makes him promise that he won't make her leave the order before she reveals her secret. And then he's immediately like oh, but I'm more important and I can't. I can't do this Like he's, like it's not you. I think you're lovely, but I need to protect myself and the monastery and people's opinions of us.

Izzy:

Yes, yeah, he's so fixated on his reputation like it's super important to him, and that only gets worse. The more that he spirals, the more ink like the lack of control that he has over his reputation, the harder he fights for it and the worse he gets. Like his actions become worse and worse because he's trying to hold onto this reputation so much and Matilda just starts going really weird at this point. So she is it at this point that she starts like throwing herself on him.

Martha:

Yes, yeah, and also, I think before this point, we've met Agnes, who is the sister of Lorenzo and one of the nuns in the nunnery. This lead to the monastery and when Lorenzo has his weird fever dream in the church he sees someone leave a letter and then he watches the nuns come through and his sister is the one that collects the letter and it turns out that she has had an affair with someone and they're hoping to marry. So she's hoping to get out of her bonds of being a nun and she's found out that she's pregnant and the head of the nunnery. She's spoken to Ambrosia about this and he basically was like well, you need to punish her in the harshest way. And then he starts to feel bad for that, but because he's worried that people will look into him if he backtracks on his view, he basically leaves her to suffer and doesn't intervene in any way with what the nuns decide to do, because he thinks if he then says to them, oh, show mercy, they might be like why have you changed your mind? And start looking into him now that he knows that Mathilda is actually a woman and not a guy called Rosario?

Izzy:

Yes, and he actually finds the letter as well, reads it and Agnes has been dragged away screaming like you will suffer for this. She actually says to him another sign of foreshadowing. She says to him like wait until you fall off your pedestal, because you will. And because he's saying to her she's so disgraced because she had sex and got pregnant and everything. Obviously she's a nun and things and he's really harsh with her and sends her to the nuns who are really cruel. And yeah, she's like just you wait, because you've shown me no mercy and no mercy will be shown to you when you fall off your pedestal. And so, yeah, so we're back to Ambrosio and Mathilda in this garden and Mathilda well, ambrosio says to Mathilda you need to leave in three days. I can't bear to be around you, you're going to ruin the reputation of everyone. And then, because she starts declaring her feelings for him, he becomes more uncomfortable and he starts to be conflicted between actually desiring Mathilda and still wanting her to leave. This is like the start of his downfall. He starts to be so conflicted about it. Then Mathilda, being like super crazy, pulls out a dagger and says if you're going to make me leave, I'm going to just like unalive myself right now. And he's like, no, no, no, what are you doing? Instead of unaliving herself, she just like rips open her top for the dagger. So she's like exposed to him and he's just there like but it's happened, but also I kind of desire you now. This was the weirdest scene. Honestly, I just couldn't. I could not believe it. I was not expecting her to do that at all.

Martha:

No, it was completely like wild. It's come from Rosario, who was quite quiet and kind of unassuming, to then like revealing the true character of Mathilda. And there's a really interesting reveal about Mathilda at the end of the book, which I'm sure we'll get to, but I thought that bit was really interesting. And again for him he's like oh, I'm desired. So his desire for her comes from her wanting him. So it's all about how people view him and his kind of view of himself and the way that he's built himself up in his head and the way that he's celebrated in the city of Madrid.

Izzy:

Yes, because he's literally there just like, oh, this is so incredible that somebody would sacrifice their whole life to come and join me in the church just so they could be around me. And that like just really gets to him. He's like, oh, this is amazing, like somebody's this infatuated with me and she is, I mean, she's fully infatuated with him in her. Just ripping open her top is not the weirdest part, because then there's a snake in her top. There is a snake right in her top that bites Ambrosio. I kid you not, right? Is that not the weirdest thing you've ever heard? And I get that. There's like links between that and like the Gordian of Eden and everything, but that was like such a left wing. I was like that was a curveball. I wasn't seeing that coming. There's a snake in her top.

Martha:

Yeah, so yeah, that was very kind of like Gordian of Eden vibes, wasn't it? Like the temptation, and clearly it kind of foreshadows the fact that he will be tempted because the snake bites him. He's then left poisoned and they're worried that he's going to die. And because Matilda kind of re-puts on her disguise, I guess, they leave Rosario with the monk when he's resting and the doctors basically said he's got three days to live. But he then miraculously recovers and I think Matilda sucks the poison out of him and like into herself and she's then dying. And then when he says, oh, I can't believe, I don't want you to leave me, she's like actually I have some magical way to save myself. I'm going to go down to the vaults and do some weird magic. Oh, my god, I know, I know.

Izzy:

So backtracking just slightly. So yeah, she's like looking after him and she's like playing the harp. This gave me such like siren. It gave me the vibes that I think some people see Mary Crawford, as you know, she's there playing the harp. She's like this kind of temptress siren person that like is drawing this church man in. And also something really interesting as well the fact that three comes up all the time is that usually like three days to die. That keeps popping up. Now, three in like spiritual to like an angel numbers. It's actually a really positive number. It basically is the master builder number and it's about being on like a divine path or divine intervention is playing a part in your life. Now, something really interesting about this book is often things that are considered divine usually are flipped on their head and you see them and it's like corrupt in dodgy and that's interesting about this as well like that number comes up all the time and it's flipped on its head and it's like three days to die. It's like nothing positive and it's not a divine path. It's like the opposite of a divine path. It's tragic. And so I just thought that was super interesting that it was always coming up with, like the number three, that is always three days to die.

Martha:

Yeah, it comes up so often. It comes up multiple times in the book or kind of three days until this will happen and all those sorts of things. And I think that's such an interesting point because it really is kind of flipping what the ideas of morality are on their head within the whole book.

Izzy:

Yes, 100%, and you're right. At this point now it kind of gets weird because Matilda not only is just Matilda obsessed with Ambrosio, this like temptress female, she actually turns out that she grew up with a guy who was practicing witchcraft and she picked up like some of his like skill sets and like got like a little book from him and stuff, and somehow she's like a master of this. At this point is able to go down to the vaults which he does take Ambrosio as well and on the way down they bump into the nuns who were talking about the way that they're like making Agnes suffer for the fact that she's like pregnant and everything. And Ambrosio has a bit of a moral conscience at this point and he goes oh my gosh, like I should go and stop this. And Matilda says to him like no, because if you go and stop this, they'll be asking like why you were down here and people start looking into us. And he's so quick, he has like these moments of like a moral conscience and then suddenly it's like no, you're right, we'll do the bad thing again and just like this guy is shocking.

Martha:

He's so easily tempted, after like spending his whole life in the monastery not having gone anywhere, to being like, oh, I should probably save this like woman oh wait, you're right, let's just leave her to half-eight. And also when they go down into the vaults, when they see the nuns, matilda basically doesn't fully get him involved in any of the weird witchcraft stuff. Yet she tells him that he's not allowed to come down and he sees like flashing of lights and like basically hears like thunder, and then she comes back and she's healed and he kind of doesn't think that much about it until later on when it comes up again to benefit him.

Izzy:

Yes, oh my gosh, yeah, the guy's so selfish, honestly so bad. I just want to emphasis as well like I really don't like the vibe where in this book witchcraft is only seen as like baneful, it's only like bad, it's only like it's considered kind of like an anti-christ situation, which I know for some people that's how they they see it in everything. But yeah, it's kind of put in opposition to Christianity, which is not the way that I see witchcraft. But there we go. But yeah, it's seen as like something like it's to do with the devil and all sorts of very traditional views on witchcraft, which very much is fitting for the time that this was written. People are still very paranoid about this kind of thing and it was seen as kind of like the opposite of Christianity. In fact, anything that was not Christian was often considered pagan and was kind of shunned as being dangerous and corrupt. So that's definitely emphasising this book like Matilda is this kind of like crazy witchy character who does all this like terrible stuff in crypts in. Is it called crypts, crypts?

Martha:

Yeah.

Izzy:

Yeah, she does all this crazy.

Martha:

It's called crypts and there's vaults.

Izzy:

Yeah, crypts and the vaults so weird and, yeah, this is where she like, does all this, this work and these rituals, which then heals her? And so, yeah, you're so right, though they carry on with life and he doesn't even think twice about the fact that she's healed. But also, I love that he's like not even that he was like kind of fuss that she'd sucked the venom out of him, but then again was also like oh, but it's me. So, yeah, thank goodness you saved me, because this would be tragic and they can, from this point on, they continue to have sex for a little while. Yeah, they're just like getting on all the time until he suddenly goes off her and I can't remember why this is.

Martha:

I think he starts to doubt the choices he's made and there's a bit where he's obsessed with this painting of the Madonna and it turns out that actually the Madonna in his painting is Matilda. Matilda is like not in this painting of herself, so that he would like be obsessed with this image. So at one point, when he gets like frustrated with what's going on and he starts to doubt himself, he like breaks the painting and he's like I don't want to obsess over this anymore. But part of the reason he goes off her is I think he meets Antonia again and he's then interested in her and he starts visiting for the first time, like leaving the house, and he's like I need to visit her sick mum and I think they've come. I think she comes to ask him, doesn't? She like will you pray for my mother? And he's like oh, I'll come to your house because I think you're attractive. But he doesn't say that. So he breaks his vows of not leaving the monastery and like sneaks out at night to go and visit her and her mum at their house.

Izzy:

Yeah, it's interesting. He really casts Matilda aside when he sees Antonia. For him just represents all this innocence and purity, which is obviously what he's no longer in. Matilda is obviously very much the opposite as well, because you know, she was really desperate for them to get it on, like she was pretty much adamant. There was no saying no to her, she was up for it. I mean, he obviously was also because he was tempted so easily. But yeah, antonia represents everything that Matilda's not and as soon as she comes around he starts to fixate on her. But I love that you brought up that bit about the Virgin Mary painting when Matilda was like I had a painting commission and that's it. I wanted it to be here because I wanted you to start like fantasizing about me and I'm just like what that is? Some serious calculated Nishes. That is my god. But who goes that far? And what's weird is he was fixated on the image talked like, was looking at it all the time, felt desire when he looked at it but didn't put two and two together until she said this is like such a running theme of this book people do not recognize people. It's strange.

Martha:

It's so often that they're like, oh, I saw this woman and then like a few times later like, oh, it's my sister. They don't know who these people are. I just think it's really funny and that kind of plays into that kind of whole element of of like not, it's not even supernatural, that the kind of lack of recognition it just kind of shows how like strange their society is, that they have these weird familial bonds that actually they don't really know each other and they're not really that well connected.

Izzy:

Yes, and what I found strange as well is, compared to mysteries, you'd also I kind of felt like there was a lot less characters, which made it even weirder that people didn't recognize each other, because we were really just being. It was literally just like not even that many people that were being talked about in it was rarely that all of the characters were in the same Story line at the same point. You know, most people, even by the end people have like already died or disappeared before the end, so there was never a point where all characters were, I think maybe the end vault scene, but other than that there was very rarely a moment where all characters were together at the same time, and so it's even weirder that people don't recognize each other or know what's going on Because they're so intertwined all the time, which was really strange. And I'm just trying to think what happens now. Do we jump back to Lazario at this point, to his storyline, lorenzo?

Martha:

oh my god, why?

Izzy:

do I keep calling Lazario? Was that something from Mysterious U Dolphi? That's weird. Do we jump back to Lorenzo now?

Martha:

Yes, I think we have Lorenzo and he basically, when Agnes finds the letter in the church and then gets dragged away by the nuns, he realizes what has happened to his sister and he bumps into his friend, raymond, who is some sort of Duke or something in in the town and His friends like I need to tell you something, but you can't kill me, and basically reveals that the person Agnes has slept with is him and that he found her while he was abroad, in Germany or something, and Her arm won't. It aren't again trying to get the same guy. Oh, they're not interested. And basically, like, raymond tells his whole story, which took forever and half of it was his memoir yeah, the longest story ever. And basically Lorenzo comes around and is like oh okay, you genuinely want to be with my sister. That's fine, I'll write to the Pope and get a letter that means she can leave the nunnery, but by this point the nuns have already found out that she's pregnant and he can't access her.

Izzy:

Yes, yeah, this is really interesting. In Raymond's story about how he met Agnes becomes like its own separate, kind of his own separate book in a sense. It's basically like a whole different story. He's even got like a title heading and it's yeah, it's like its own separate story in in general. And this is really interesting as well because this holds a lot of supernatural elements. So he meets her when he's traveling in Europe, but before he meets Agnes he's traveling in his carriage, like breaks down or something. So he ends up in this house with a man and his wife and the wife is really mean and he doesn't really understand why her name is Margarita, I think, and she's really cruel and he doesn't really get why she's being so horrible to him and her husband's being really nice. But then it turns out that her husband he laws strangers to their property so he can kill them and steal their fortunes. And Margarita Is not very nice people because she's basically being held hostage, is his wife and she basically Warns Raymond that this guy's trying to kill him and they basically plot together, don't they where they like, don't drink the poison, but they also overpower the like the robbers and her husband and everything to stop them from stealing the money and they escape together. And this is also when? Is this when Theodora? Or if what's his name I can't remember his name it's like her son and he Becomes like theodora and he becomes under the protection of Raymond. He's not that significant of a character, but he's just, he's there as well, so he becomes under Raymond's protection. They carry on through and then they end up at Agnes's house, right? And this is when. Well, it's a castle actually.

Martha:

Yeah, so I think that when he's at the kind of the villains house, when his carriage is broken, there's also a woman there, and doesn't that turn out to be Agnes's arm? I?

Izzy:

Was Margarita. Agnes. Agnes is on. No, no, no, not her. You know, they are the lady that they drug. Yes, they drug another lady. Yes, they do. Yeah, there's another lady there. Yes right, yeah, they rescue her. That's Agnes's on, yet Absolutely, and they.

Martha:

Yeah, so to show the thanks to Raymond for saving her. So they then get invited to visit them in Germany when they go back home, because I think they're an Austria at this point.

Izzy:

Yes, yeah, we're very similar to mysteries. You don't throw as well as a lot of traveling. Specifically in this section, the main storyline, there's no traveling at all. Really, they stay basically within this like section of Madrid that's got all the churches and like the nunnery and everything. But yeah, in this part of the book there's a lot of travel. This guy moves around loads. Obviously he's like he said he was traveling around Europe, so he does. And yes, they end up at Agnes's house and yeah, her aunt Basically like falls in love with Raymond, but she goes like crazy about it, right, because she's. He spends time with the aunt to try and get on her good side so that he'll be able to marry Agnes. But then the aunt thinks that because he's spending so much time with her, it's because he's in love with her and she's married, and she's just like you're in love with me, blah, blah, blah. And he's like, oh no, no, I'm really not. He doesn't say who he's it he's got feelings for, but he's just like it's not you, and she flips out and she's like you've got to leave and all of this. And then he sees Well, then she sees Agnes and Raymond together and I think Agnes gives him a portrait or something and he's, like you know, like swept off his feet the fact that she gave this portrait, then they aren't like burst through the door and she is fuming, right.

Martha:

Yeah, she's absolutely fuming and that's how Agnes, I think, ends up in the nunnery. She's like oh well, I've decided that now you're, you're going to this nunnery, like I think her dad had always wanted that for her. And the nunnery have a whole thing around reputation as well and they're really keen to have women from important families within their nunnery in Madrid. So but this is kind of a catalyst for why she ends up traveling back to Madrid. And the reason that she trusted Raymond is because she he said that he, she, he said to her that he knows her brother and she was like oh my god, lorenzo, you know him, but he's used like a fake name while he's traveling abroad. So when Lorenzo is then written to, he's like I don't know who you're talking about. And it turns out that actually he's just using a fake name because he doesn't want to get harassed or he's abroad. So then they start to doubt him and Agnes is like oh, you're not who you say you are. So she kind of like loses her faith in him until she gets back to Madrid and then he starts writing to her and they kind of Rekindle their relationship.

Izzy:

Yeah, but before that happens as well, they actually make a plan of how they can run away together, and this has like supernatural Elements to it as well. So Agnes tells Raymond about this story that the fifth day oh no, the fifth year Every five years, on the fifth day of the fifth month, the bloody nun turns up Is that what her name is? I think it is the bloody nun. She shows up and she kills the Baron who's currently living in that property, and so this is just like a spooky story that she tells Raymond. But then she's like I'll dress up, is the bloody nun and Like we can escape because I like scare everybody in. So, yeah, that's like becomes like their plan. But the plan doesn't really work out because, for whatever reason, when they're traveling in the carriage, the carriage crashes In. Oh my god, raymond's injuries this was the funniest thing I was. Honestly. I was sat in a library reading and I was wetting myself with his injuries because it was. I know it's not very nice like that he's injured, but it was just funny, like how dramatic it was. Let me see if I can find the the thing. It was just so funny. I put it on my Instagram story. So I was honestly just like crying. It was, it was dramatic. But do you want to add anything about the the bloody nun situation? Because then it actually it turns out when he's like trying to recover from his injuries, he actually gets haunted by this actual ghost.

Martha:

Yeah, so Agnes never actually escapes the castle, does she? The person that he saves from the castle is the nun like. The ghost of the nun Comes with you and then the carriage crashes and then she haunts him and then I can't. They speak to someone and he's like, oh, it's your ancestor, you need to take these bones. Very, though. Yeah, you need to get her bones and bury them in your family. Vote in Madrid so she can finally be at peace.

Izzy:

Yes, which was also. Yeah, that was all super strange, but like I was just a stranger, he was called the stranger and I'm like the stranger has got all the answers on how to get rid of the ghost. I'm just like this is so funny, but the scene where he hurts himself, it said I had broken two of my ribs in the fall, my arm being dislocated, hung useless by my side and my left leg was shattered so terribly that I have never expected that. I never expected to recover its use. I was like, honestly, I was whatever I thought, because I was like You've got broken ribs, your arm is dislocated and you've shattered your leg. I'm literally just like.

Martha:

Take that long to recover? Doesn't sound like that sounds like three months of recovery and I feel like it's like a week before he's back in Madrid with bones of his ancestor.

Izzy:

I feel like he makes the point because he's like I don't want to be haunted anymore by the ghost. I mean, it says that he speeds up his recovery because of that, because, like, that's a thing, you can just recover quickly if you've got motive to. But anyway, yeah, it was very strange. But he buries them and the ghost disappears, like he's not haunted by the ghost anymore.

Martha:

But again dramatic character. There was an E Raymond like. When he finds out that they can't get to Agnes and there's rumors that she's dead, he like nearly dies. He like faints away and normally you'd think it'd be the female characters that faint, but the men do a lot of fainting in this book.

Izzy:

Yeah, and everything's kind of show more from the male perspective as well, like, even though it's in the, even though the narrative third person it's always from like one of these like their story and it like these women are just like Secondary characters who come into it. But it's I've ambrosia story, lorenzo story or Raymond's story and they're like going through life and these like weird things happen to you then. But I what I felt really strange about Raymond's story was is I get that? It was it was relevant for us to find out about Agnes, but it kind of felt like it was just thrown in there. The supernatural it was like, oh, I've not added anything, that's supernatural for a while, but I throw that in because I'm saying it's a gothic novel, because I was like, why was that relevant?

Martha:

Yeah, the bit with the nun wasn't really relevant at all, like the the nun that was haunting him. But I guess it kind of added More depth to kind of the gothic elements of the book, because otherwise they're quite kind of more Based again. But it's all still based around religion, like it is a nun, yeah, and I think it's a nun that was mistreated and that is why she kind of starts to haunt that building. So it's interesting that actually you get this element of kind of like mistreatment of women but also kind of sin and Going against the rules of the church, like throughout the book.

Izzy:

Yeah, that's interesting actually that you say that, because her story is kind of interesting, like the nun's story is that she kills the baron Because she wants to marry his brother, and then when she goes to his brother, like I've killed him, it's all good, we can be together. I should probably say, on a live I buy, it's okay. Anyway, um, like, it's okay, I've got rid of him, we can be together. The Brother kills her because he's like, oh, all I actually wanted, I wanted to be baron, I wanted the fortune, and so then he kills her and that's why she's left like Disturbed, like that's why she haunts the property, because her bones are just laying there in this like underground tunnel where they were gonna like run away together. So it is kind of it's highly disturbing. But, um, yeah, and the point was as well, I think she was like being forced to go to a nunnery or something, I can't remember, but there was like some aspect of it where it kind of mirrors Agnes's story, um, to an extent. So, yeah, it was just, it was all pretty mad though, and then, um, after that they plan together to go and save Agnes Stony. They're like oh, raymond and Lorenzo team up so that they can go and save her, which then brings them back to Madrid. So just before we move on to the next topic, then I just wanna say a little bit about our sponsor, house of Bennett. If, like me, you love taking a break from your modern life to escape into Jane Austen's world of handwritten letters, romantic rendezvous and long walks in the countryside, you will love the House of Bennett shop. House of Bennett offers stickers, pins, jewelry, totes, shirts and so much more All themes around your favorite classic literature and period dramas, including Jane Eyre, anne of Green Gables, little Women and, of course, the works of Jane Austen. Head over to HouseofBennettcom, that's H-A-U-S-O-F-B-E-N-N-E-T dot C-O-M and use my code. What the discount for 15% off at the checkout. So once again, that's HouseofBennettcom and use my code. What the discount for 15% off? And this is really interesting as well, because this holds a lot of supernatural elements. So he meets her when he's traveling in Europe, but before he meets Agnes he's traveling in his carriage like breakdown or something. So he ends up in this house with a man and his wife and the wife is really mean and he doesn't really understand why. Her name's Margarita, I think, and she's really cruel and he doesn't really get why she's being so horrible to him and her husband's being really nice. But then it turns out that her husband, he laws strangers to their property so he can kill them and steal their fortunes. And Margarita's not very nice to people because she's basically being held hostage as his wife and she basically warns Raymond that this guy's trying to kill him. They basically plot together, don't they, where they don't drink the poison, but they also overpower the robbers and her husband and everything to stop them from stealing the money and they escape together. And this is also when? Is this when Theodora, or was his name? I can't remember his name. It's like her son and he becomes like. Theodora and he becomes under the protection of Raymond. He's not that significant of a character, but he's just, he's there as well, so he becomes under Raymond's protection. They carry on through and then they end up at Agnes's house, right, and this is when. Well, it's a castle actually.

Martha:

Yeah, so I think that when he's at the kind of the villain's house, when his carriage is broken, there's also a woman there, and doesn't that turn out to be Agnes's aunt?

Izzy:

Oh, is Margarita Agnes's aunt? No, no, no, not her, you know, they are the lady that they drug. Yes, they drug another lady. Yes, they do. Yeah, there's another lady there who gets drugged. Yeah, they rescue her. That's Agnes's aunt.

Martha:

yeah, absolutely, and they travel together, they just show their bank. Yeah, so to show the thanks to Raymond for saving her, should they then get invited to visit them in Germany when they go back home? So I think they were in.

Izzy:

Austria at this point. Yes, yeah, very similar to Mysteries of the Old Throne as well, that there's a lot of travel in. Specifically in this section, the main storyline, there's no traveling at all. Really. They stay basically within this like section of Madrid that's got all the churches and like the nunnery and everything. But, yeah, in this part of the book there's a lot of travel. This guy moves around loads. Obviously he's like he said he was traveling around Europe, so he does. And, yes, they end up at Agnes's house and, yeah, her aunt basically falls in love with Raymond. But she goes like crazy about it, right, because he spends time with the aunt to try and get on her good side so that he'll be able to marry Agnes. But then the aunt thinks that because he's spending so much time with her, it's because he's in love with her and she's married, and she's just like you're in love with me, blah, blah, blah. And he's like, oh no, no, I'm really not. He doesn't say who he's got feelings for, but he's just like it's not you. And she flips out and she's like you've got to leave and all of this. And then he sees, well, then she sees Agnes and Raymond together and I think Agnes gives him a portrait or something and he's, like you know, like swept off his feet the fact that she gave this portrait. Then the aunt like burst through the door and she is fuming right.

Martha:

Yeah, she's absolutely fuming. And that's how Agnes, I think, ends up in the nunnery. She's like, oh well, I've decided that now you're going to this nunnery, like I think her dad had always wanted that for her. And the nunnery have a whole thing around reputation as well and they're really keen to have women from important families within their nunnery in Madrid. So but this is kind of the catalyst for why she ends up traveling back to Madrid. And the reason that she trusted Raymond is because he said that he he said to her that he knows her brother and she was like oh my God, lorenzo, you know him, but he's used like a fake name while he's traveling abroad. So when Lorenzo is then written to, he's like I don't know who you're talking about. And it turns out that actually he's just using a fake name because he doesn't want to get harassed while he's abroad. So then they start to doubt him and Agnes is like oh, you're not who you say you are. So she kind of like loses her faith in him until she gets back to Madrid and then he starts writing to her and they kind of rekindle their relationship.

Izzy:

Yeah, but before that happens as well, they actually make a plan of how they can run away together, and this has like supernatural elements to it as well. So Agnes tells Raymond about this story that the fifth day oh no, the fifth year every five years, on the fifth day of the fifth month, the bloody nun turns up Is that what her name is? I think it is the bloody nun. She shows up and she kills the Baron who's currently living in that property, and so this is just like a spooky story that she tells Raymond. But then she's like I'll dress up, is the bloody nun and like we can escape because I'll like scare everybody. And so, yeah, that's like becomes like their plan. But the plan doesn't really work out because, for whatever reason, when they're traveling in the carriage, the carriage crashes and, oh my God, raymond's injuries. This was the funniest thing I was. Honestly, I was sat in a library reading and I was wetting myself with his injuries because it was. I know it's not very nice like that he's injured, but it was just funny, like how dramatic it was. Let me see if I can find the thing. It was just so funny. I put it on my Instagram story because I was honestly just like crying. It was dramatic, but do you want to add anything about the bloody nun situation? Because then it actually it turns out when he's like trying to recover from his injuries, he actually gets haunted by this actual ghost.

Martha:

Yeah, so Agnes never actually escapes the castle, does she? The person that he saves from the castle is the nun, like the ghost of the nun comes with him and then the carriage crashes and then she haunts him and then I can't. They speak to someone and he's like, oh, it's your ancestor, you need to take these bones and bury them. Yeah, you need to get her bones and bury them in your family vault in Madrid so she can finally be at peace.

Izzy:

Yes, which was also. Yeah, that was all super strange, but like I was just a stranger, he was called the stranger and I'm like that's so funny. The stranger has got all the answers on how to get rid of the ghost. I'm just like this is so funny, but the scene where he hurts himself. It said I had broken two of my ribs in the fall, my arm being dislocated, hung useless by my side and my left leg was shattered so terribly that I have never expected to recover its use. I was like, honestly, I was wondering myself because I was like what? You've got broken ribs, your arm is dislocated and you've shattered your leg. I'm literally just like oh my God, and I was trying to take that long to recover.

Martha:

That doesn't sound like. That sounds like three months of recovery and I feel like it's like a week before he's back in Madrid with bones of his ancestor.

Izzy:

I feel like he makes the point because he's like I don't want to be haunted anymore by the ghost. I mean, it says that he speeds up his recovery because of that, because, like, that's a thing, you can just recover quickly if you've got motive to. But anyway, yeah, it was very strange. But he buries them and the ghost disappears, like he's not haunted by the ghost anymore.

Martha:

But yeah, it's a very dramatic character though, isn't he, Raymond Like? When he finds out that they can't get to Agnes and there's rumors that she's dead, he like nearly died. He like faints away, and normally you'd think it'd be the female characters that faint, but the men do a lot of fainting in this book.

Izzy:

Yeah, and everything's kind of shown more from the male perspective as well, Like, even though it's in the narrative third person, it's always from like one of. It's like their story and like these women are just like secondary characters who come into it. But it's either Ambrosio's story, Lorenzo's story or Raymond's story and they're like going through life and these like weird things happen to you then. But what I found really strange about Raymond's story was is I get that it was relevant for us to find out about Agnes, but it kind of felt like it was just thrown in there. The supernatural it was like, oh, I've not added anything that's supernatural for a while, but I throw that in because I'm saying it's a gothic novel, Because I was like, why was that relevant?

Martha:

Yeah, the bit with the nun wasn't really relevant at all, like the nun that was haunting him. But I guess it kind of added more depth to kind of the gothic elements of the book, because otherwise they're quite kind of more based. Again it's all still based around religion. Like it is a nun and I think it's a nun that was mistreated and that is why she kind of starts to haunt that building. So it's interesting that actually you get this element of kind of like mistreatment of women but also kind of sin and going against the rules of the church throughout the book.

Izzy:

Yeah, that's interesting actually that you say that, because her story is kind of interesting, like the nun's story is that she kills the baron because she wants to marry his brother, and then when she goes to his brother, like I've killed him, it's all good, we can be together. I should probably say it on a live, but it's okay. Anyway, like it's okay, like I've got rid of him, we can be together. The brother kills her because he's like oh, all I actually wanted, I wanted to be baron, I wanted the fortune, and so then he kills her and that's why she's left like disturbed, like that's why she haunts the property, because her bones are just laying there in this like underground tunnel where they were gonna like run away together. So it's kind of it's slightly disturbing. But yeah, and the point was as well, I think she was like being forced to go to a nunnery or something, I can't remember. But there was like some aspect of it where it kind of mirrors Agnes's story to an extent. So, yeah, it was just, it was all pretty mad though, and then after that they like they planned together to go and save Agnes, don't they? They're like oh, raymond and Lorenzo like team up so that they can go and save her, which then brings them back to a dread.

Martha:

Raymond has a way of getting into the garden, which is where he saw Agnes and they slept together to make her full pregnant. So he has a way into the garden, but when, like, they can't track her down when they're there. So what ends up happening is Theodore kind of comes into his own a little bit and we have a bit more of him as he finds multiple ways to try and get into the nunnery to find Agnes, and one of them is he pretends to be like a beggar and says to them oh, I don't have a bowl, because people come to the nunnery for like arms and bring their own bowls to have soup and things. But they think he's really adorable. So they like let him in and then, like, they let him like sing this song which I definitely skipped because I was like stop putting the logist purse in this book and he's singing in the hopes that Agnes will hear him and recognize his voice, and then like cry out to him, but it doesn't happen. So then they're even more convinced that actually she's been killed.

Izzy:

So then it doesn't happen. Isn't that weird, though? Why would she be like, oh God, to be Theodore. Did she even know him that well?

Martha:

I think that they've met before because I think he helped get Raymond in, but it was just crazy. And then they kind of tell the public that this has happened and then the public start like rioting because the nuns have killed Agnes.

Izzy:

Yes, oh yes. So this is really weird. So the head nun actually goes and says that she's dead. In everybody, like this course is like an uproar Cause. Everyone's like why is she dead? This is crazy. And obviously in Raymond freaks out. He's devastated, like goes into mad depression. Lorenzo, he's pretty devastated as well. That is like sisters died, which then leads him to like just be more focused on getting Antonio as a wife. But she's got a whole stuff going on in her own right. So, yeah, this like causes pretty mad, mad chaos and I feel like it's at this point don't we flip back to Ambrosia and Matilda and how they start to plan. So Matilda is really upset that Antonio's gone off her. Ambrosia, I'm sorry, matilda is really upset that Ambrosia has gone off her and doesn't want to sleep with her anymore and he's been really cruel to her. Actually, he's like you know, you're nothing to me, but Matilda's got like eyes everywhere or it's like looking in a crystal ball. Oh, I think he's a mirror, isn't it? And she's got like a mirror where she can see the person that she wants to be. Like it's all real snow whitey and she's like show me my, show me my desire, or something, and it shows her Ambrosia and it shows him longing for Antonio. And so she comes to him and she's like I know who you want now and I want to help you get it. So like her whole thing in life now becomes about making sure Ambrosia has his way with Antonio, by whatever means, like as long as he gets to fulfill his desires. She's happy because that's why she thinks that's her purpose in life, and Matilda obviously, because she's, you know, skilled, a skilled witch. She has all these different methods and she gives him a magic myrtle branch right.

Martha:

Yes, so she does that. But before then he already goes to Antonio's house to kind of like don't want her mum and like help pray for her mum and the mum Rex, sorry. And her mum Alvira is like really unsure about the monk. Like she, there's something she recognises within him, but she's never met him before and she's really confused about why he seems so familiar. But she also doesn't trust him. So they watch him like a hawk whenever he's there. So he's like, oh, how can I seduce this innocent woman and ruin her when they watch me? So then he calls on Matilda and that's when she gives him like the magic branch. But she tells him that this has come from Lucifer, like the devil has given this to her and he will only allow her to ask for this one thing for Ambrose, and in the future he'll have to ask for things himself from the devil if he wants his help.

Izzy:

Yes, and he's like partially, like really freaked out. He's like, oh, my goodness what. But then there's also like well, give me the branch because I want to go and have my way with Antonio, so I don't care. And what's really interesting is, traditionally a Merstal branch was actually a sign of like commitment to marriage. It was like something that was like part of like a wedding ceremony and meant like union ship, whereas obviously, like many things in this book, it's completely turned on its head in this because he wants to use the branch to sleep with Antonio out of wedlock. So out of wedlock, yeah, he wants to sleep with Antonio before they're married. They can't even get married because he's a monk. So yeah, and the branch opens any door that you want and if you put it on the pillow of like the person of your desire, they fall into like a deep sleep. So this is when the book starts to get super creepy, I think, because it becomes clear that this point forward and Brocio is not interested in consensual sex anymore what he had with Matilda, like he crosses a line now and it starts to get into the realms of sexual assault. He already tries once, I believe, with Antonio. She gets really upset because he starts like groping her and kissing her and everything, and she's crying and her mom walks in and she's like what are you doing? Like get off my daughter. Like please leave and never come back. Which is why he then starts to go to these like drastic measures. But what he also realizes is Antonio is not interested in him, so he thinks, going forward, she needs to be unconscious, which is extremely disturbing, let's be very clear, and that's why this book just gets super dark from this point on.

Martha:

Yeah. So he turns up and he lays the pillow and there's this whole bit where he talks. He basically is talking out loud about how beautiful she is and how he can't wait to like ruin her. And it was very uncomfortable. And her mom then rushes in who is like not been very well Because she gets something come to her in a dream where she's like something's going to happen to my daughter, Like I need to save her. So they get into this like massive fight and obviously she's Antonio is not waking up because this branch is on her pillow and he ends up suffocating the mom and like letting her die and then just runs away.

Izzy:

Yeah, what's so weird about this as well is his motive isn't because he like still wants to go for Antonio. He's literally again worried about his reputation. He's like I can't let you live, because if I do, you're going to tell the whole of Madrid about me. It was just bizarre and like this is what I mean. Like, when he starts to like lose control and things start to spiral, his actions become worse and worse. Like he like the extremes just jump he now. Now he wants to just on a live people left, right and center, and yeah, it's tragic and obviously her mom dies, which is awful for her. She's absolutely devastated. Antonio goes into like mourning over her mom and it also throws her like situation in life out like into a bit of a spiral because Lorenzo is not turned back up saying that he's going to marry her because he's still not got permission. But doesn't he have a moment where he comes to the window and it's like what's that film where the guy turns up with a boombox? It's like kind of like that. He's like does any like stand outside? He's got like a band and they're like playing to him, but like she doesn't recognize it's for her, she thinks it's for someone else.

Martha:

Yeah, he's like your window.

Izzy:

Yeah.

Martha:

It's like every night, I think he like brings his music but he's kind of disappeared because he's he's so focused on finding Agnes and like getting her out and helping Raymond. So Antonio is like not at the top of his thoughts. But he also was given a charge because Raymond, I think, is related to Antonio. I think that's her mom's brother-in-law, yes, so she's been kind of like campaigning to him to like help, but where he's like bedridden because he thinks Agnes is dead, he doesn't get to her to help her in time. So she has all this drama Her mom's dead, she's got no one looking after her. They're kind of lodging with with a lady who's very dramatic.

Izzy:

I love her. The woman who's like running around and she's like somebody help me. There's ghosts, they come to me, there's like this and that. Carry on, she's. She's a really funny character the lawnmower, yeah.

Martha:

Well, antonio then kind of is in her mother's room, isn't she, and sees her mother's ghost and it's like, oh, you have three days and you're going to be joining me or something.

Izzy:

So just that you want your mum to haunt you. Geez, I'd be like well, that's so dramatic, you just traumatize.

Martha:

Yeah, and then the landlady's like running around and she then goes to invite the monk and Rosie back to the house to get rid of the spirit, the new ghost, yeah. So he then comes, but Flora, who's like their maid, has been warned by Antonia's mum before she passed away that he's not trustworthy. So she like watches him the whole time and then at one point he stays overnight in the house in the bedroom of her mum, like to like keep an eye out for the ghost and notice that like the wardrobe doors open and he doesn't think it was open when he first went in there. And then he like gets paranoid that someone's there and he pulls the curtain back and there is Flora just watching him. She's broken into the room to watch him and like check he's not doing anything to Antonia, and it was just absolutely hilarious.

Izzy:

I was so weird because I thought it was gonna be her mum's ghost again appearing like to haunt him, to be like you know you killed me, and I'm pretty sure doesn't she haunt him at one point Like is it later that evening that she like appears to him or something? Um, and he he's like really upset because Antonia is really ill from this. And what's really even more disturbing about Ambrosio is, yes, he has these awful intentions with Antonia, but he tries to justify it by trying to make out that he's like in love with her and he has such strong feelings for her and he has to like settle his own desires for her because you know he's that in love with it, like it's super important that he does this. It's so disturbing because she's not at all interested in him in this way. And I just hate the way that he tries to justify his actions because he's like I'm in love and it's like no, you're just a horrible person.

Martha:

Yeah, he spends a lot of time justifying himself and then, following this, when she's really unwell, him and Matilda then hatch a plan about how he can get her away from Flora and these people so that he can then have what he wants. And what they decide to do is they decide to drug her, so it'll seem like she's died, like very kind of like Romeo and Juliet-esque, so like it will like slow her pulse down, she'll seem dead. They can put her in the vol and then when she wakes up, he's like hey, you're not actually dead and I'm here.

Izzy:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the guy's so weird. He has this thing about like trying to be like coming across as the hero because he thinks Antonia is gonna be interested in him if he's like the rescuer, but he always like just does something incredibly disturbing or creepy at the same time, like he can't just be a decent person at this point, like he's always just like overthrowing by his like terrible desires and wants and all of this lot and yeah, it's just pretty, it's pretty terrible. But, yeah, him and Matilda, yeah, have come up with this plan to drug her, which he does, give her this drug and she dies-ish, but she's not really dead, she's like basically in a coma and at this point she's taken to the crypt, right, she's put in inside like with all the other dead bodies.

Martha:

A lot of volume three takes place underground because the mob in Madrid have started kind of like attacking the nuns because of the story of Agnes and them thinking that Agnes has been murdered by this nun and they're really disgusted that a nun would do that. So they then start attacking so a lot of the nuns that were innocent kind of go into the vaults underneath the monastery and the nunnery and Lorenzo's down there too, trying to like help them and support them. And then they find this woman and at this point we don't know who she is. They find this woman hidden in one of the vault and rescue her. But he doesn't know who she is either and she's like quite emaciated and I think she's been down there for quite a few days and it's quite clear that it's not Antonia. So we're like who is this other woman buried underground? So he rescues her and then we kind of have a pause on that plot line to go back to Ambrosia and his obsession with Antonia, don't they rescue two women in the vault Like two random women that we don't know who they are?

Izzy:

I swear there's two. There's one who obviously will explain who that person is, and then there's another one who marries. Yeah, that's one of the nuns. Well, she's not a nun.

Martha:

She's a novia, so she's not taken her orders yet. So, yeah, they rescue a woman called Virginia and the other nuns that are down there. They basically keep them safe because the people in the mob have just started murdering nuns because they're so disgusted with them. So, yeah, they rescue Virginia, who is a novia at the nunnery. She hasn't taken her orders yet, but she's kind of like a novice in training. And then they find this other woman as well. Like underground the need for these around Tonya.

Izzy:

So this part of the book is really interesting, though, because this is one of the only times that all these characters start to come together, and it is really weird because they are all underground in these like vaults where there's all these dead bodies and, like you know, bones and stuff. It's kind of creepy, I suppose that they're all like running around here and at the same time, Ambrosio turns up into the crypt that Antonio's been laid in and she's lying there, obviously lifeless, even though she is alive. She's like in a coma, and at this point he's like would like to assault her and yeah, this bit was just like so disturbing. And she kind of wakes up because she's like wait, where am I? Like what's going on? And she's totally freaked out, understandably, because she's like underground there's all these like dead bodies around her and she's like oh my gosh. And he thinks when she sees him she'll be like oh, you're here, my savior, you've come to rescue me. But she's actually like, oh my gosh, what is happening and why are you here? Like, get away from me. Yeah.

Martha:

And there's a lot. The creepiest part was not the dead bodies, it is his thought processes. In this part of the book he spends so much time contemplating the fact that he's gonna have an unconsensual sex with her, whether she like like without her interest, and he's like staring at her for ages. But you hit, there's so much focus on it and actually that bit was way more uncomfortable for me than any supernatural element. It was so horrible to read him trying to like justify this to himself for ages, like pages and pages of him talking about what he's gonna do, and then him trying to explain himself to her and her trying to fight him off and him just literally being like this is what I'm gonna do, whether you like it or not, but he's still trying to justify that he's not doing anything wrong the whole way through.

Izzy:

No, yeah, it's so right, it's so true, because all the like the supernatural stuff, like the Gothic elements, they're all very there's a Gothic motif, like they're things that you expect in Gothic novels, you know, like ghosts, and there's like castles, encrypts and all you know all of this kind of thing going on. But yeah, his behavior it goes beyond the Gothic. It's just like dark and disturbing and really creepy. And yeah, that scene was just the worst. It was disgusting. Really, it was awful, it was absolutely. Yeah, it was horrible to read and I think as well.

Martha:

what it's, I feel like kind of what it's showing, is that actually you can have these ghosts and all these Gothic elements, but actually human nature is the worst thing out of all of them. Like the things that he does to other women generally, he doesn't really harm any men in this book. He only really harms women. He suffocates someone, he sexually assaults someone. That is worse than any of the supernatural things that happen within this book and they're all kind of perpetuated by someone who is viewed to be saintly and like Godlike.

Izzy:

Yeah, and I feel like what's really weird in the book is there's this like this they make it really clear that this about this guy's like the fact that he is not going to have sex because he's like among all of this plot and that's really important to him, that he stays like pure and that's not something that he does in everything. And yet there's other male characters who, even though they desire women, they actually want to have like an actual commitment with them, where they're like I want to marry this person first, like that's really important to them In him. In comparison, even though he's meant to be like the most, I don't know, like divine, well, like the one that's actually, you know, works for God or I don't know, whatever, whatever he's got going on, he's the one that's like the worst person, like he is just awful and he is literally just driven by sexual desire. And it's so weird as well because in the book he's described as being timid, like a woman, and it's like isn't that so strange? Because all of his actions he's almost like just I don't know, it's kind of he's almost like an animal in a sense, like he just doesn't have any like thought process around it, like he's just like this is what I want. I'm going to go and get it. I don't care, and even though he has the one that works it's not normal, like it's not compassionate, so he has no empathy.

Martha:

No. And there'll be like one sentence where he's like oh, maybe I should feel bad about this, but I don't. And then he'll kind of justify it to himself for ages and ages and ages. And again it comes back to his reputation, because his biggest concern after he has non-consensual sex with Antonia she's like okay, you've ruined me, you've taken my virginity, you've like left me with no prospects and no opportunities for a happy future. But please can I now just go back to Flora and my family so that, like I can continue my life? And he's like no cause, you'll tell people and my reputation is the most important thing again. And then Matilda turns up and she's like what are you doing? Here's a dagger. I think you need to kill her.

Izzy:

I know, yeah, this bit's mad as well. It's so awful because Antonia is the character. She is like really lovely. She's like which I know comes up in Gothic literature all the time. She's like a woman who's like, you know, really innocent and pure and yeah, and she's, that's who she is. She's just kind and innocent. She knows nothing of the world. I mean, he is awful to her and that's all she wants to do is leave. And then Matilda's like, yeah, let's kill her. And she actually escaped, though, and she's like running down the fault. This part actually got me like so nervous. I was like go go, you go please. And so, Flora, he stabs her.

Martha:

Yeah. So Matilda and Ambrose start having an argument and they can hear people moving through the vault, and this is Lorenzo and the others who have been protecting the nuns. So now the timelines are like happening at the same time. We've kind of seen what Lorenzo's doing with the nuns, trying to keep them safe, finding the woman underground that isn't Antonia, and then this kind of bit is happening at the same time, all within the same space. So when they start arguing, she's like I'm gonna run for it and she's like sprinting as fast as she can and she's screaming out saying help, help somebody, help me. And they start coming. So he's like, oh, I'm just gonna stab you, but there's nowhere for him to go, he can't get away. But so there's no reasoning behind what he does. He's just in this frenzy now. And it says that he like stabs her twice and she lives long enough for Lorenzo to come and he's absolutely devastated because he's been wanting to marry her. And she then is like I can die happy now knowing that you wanted me, even though like I would now ruin, so you couldn't have had me anyway. But at least I'll be with my mom and it's as predicted, three days on some from when she had the kind of ghost visit that this is what's now happened and she's now died. And they then kind of storm the vault when Ambrosia is and him and Matilda both get arrested and he's covered in blood and the daggers there so that there's a kind of no going back, like they know what he's done.

Izzy:

Yeah, absolutely. And Lorenzo gets out of the vault with everybody and it turns out that the woman that he rescued turned out to be Agnes. She was still alive. It is his sister. He just didn't recognize it because she was looking really rough, because she'd been, like, kept in a vault and not fed in her hair was crazy. And also she'd given birth to her child, who died because she didn't have any like isn't that right? And she, like the child, didn't have any food or anything, so the child died.

Martha:

Yeah she says that she didn't know what she was meant to do with it, like she didn't know how to look after this baby. She was really emaciated. She hadn't eaten or had fluids because there was an uncle, camilla, who was like delivering her food and water like daily, but I think she falls ill, so they're like oh well, camilla's not doing it, so we're just gonna leave her now Just to get, yeah, and a lot of this is stunned by the head nun, who's meant to be really cruel, and everybody knows this in Madrid.

Izzy:

They all know that she's really cruel in her like punishments, like over the top, and she tries to justify it. And she's very similar to Ambrosia in that sense. She tries to justify her reasoning behind why she does certain things in her reasoning makes no sense. She's just not very nice and I don't think we need to get into too much of what, because Agnes then tells her whole story, which is a little bit unnecessary because it's quite clear what's happened, like we kind of already know. But then there's also another twist. You wanna talk about the last twist that comes. Well, there's a couple of twists. You wanna talk about the twists that come at the end of the book.

Martha:

Yeah. So yeah, cause when you messaged me this morning to be like, oh, I'm on the last chapter, I was like, just wait, it's wild. Like so much has happened in this volume and it was a really uncomfortable volume to read. Agnes' story was a little bit of kind of light relief I guess, even though what happened to her was still horrendous it wasn't quite on the same scale of what happened to Antonia and we kind of get a little bit of redemption for her and it kind of shows that actually, yes, she might have like had sex out of wedlock and had this baby. Actually she is a good person, she has good morals and she ends up getting what she wants and her and Raymond end up together and they kind of have a happy ending. But then comes to the point where we've got and Brasie and Matilda who have been arrested and they basically get kind of interrogated and it explains something. It says something like they get told to confess. If they don't confess they get tortured, then they get left, then their crimes get brought before them again and the crimes that come before him are like killing someone, witchcraft and kind of sorcery, and he's adamant that actually he's not done any of that Only Matilda did. He just benefited from it. But it reaches the point where Matilda kind of comes to him in his vault, like in the jail, yeah, she's like free. She's free because she's signed her soul away to the devil, to Lucifer, and he's helped her escape. And then she's like this is what you need to do to get out of here. And he's like, oh, okay, because she's been told that she's gonna be burned, like her kind of outcome for the crime she's committed is she's gonna be burned. So she uses Lucifer to escape. And he is like, oh, I don't know if I should do that. And it's like you've done everything else, now you might as well. What else have you got to lose? So he then kind of calls upon Lucifer and Lucifer turns up and he's like you need to sign your soul away to me. And he's like can't I give you something else? And he's just like, no, don't waste my time, don't call me here. Typical unfroze you. The guys are too coward. He's like, yeah, don't call me here If that's what you're gonna give me. Like don't waste my time. Like I'm the devil, like this is what we need to do. We need to get out, it's me. Yeah, to get out of this cell. And he's very clear that that is what his promise is to get out of the cell. He's not offering him redemption, he's not offering him like kind of a way out. He's offering him a physical way to get out of that physical space. So he then, like, gives him this pen and he has to sign his soul away with his like own blood, the devil, just green round pens and contracts.

Izzy:

Kill me. I was just like yeah.

Martha:

And then when the devil then like removes him from the cell, he's like oh, now you're gonna go burn in hell. And Ambrose is like, wait, what, I thought that you were saving me. He's like from that space, I never promised you anything else. And it turns out that the whole time Matilda was put there by the devil to tempt him. Like she's not really a real person, she is something that he has put there because he knows that Ambrose is not a good guy. So I'm all the crazy. Stuff Matilda does actually is all around his ruin, like she never had his best interest at heart. She was planted there by the devil.

Izzy:

Yes, that was so weird. And what's so funny is Ambrose is like oh, can I go and be with Matilda now? It was devil's like. Matilda doesn't exist. Okay, I planted her. Okay, no, you're just gonna suffer now. Let's be clear.

Martha:

And when he taught, when the devil like kind of counts his crimes out to Ambrose, it says all the things he's done. It turns out that like well, matricide is one of his crimes because Elvira turns out to be his mom, who left him at the monastery gate. So when he slept with Antonia, that was his sister. So he's like you've also committed incest. And he's like wait what? And then it kind of made sense why earlier on Elvira is like this guy seems really familiar and I can't place it. So it was quite a subtle hint and they didn't really cover it too much early on. But I remembered that bit when I read the final scene to be like, oh, they foreshadowed this element as well, so it's very cleverly crafted the book?

Izzy:

Yes, absolutely, and I think what's really interesting as well is, like you said before, that Agnes and Raymond actually do end up together. So in the book, like he states that sex is really just natural, actually vows of like chastity is what was unnatural. That's what Lewis is kind of putting out there in this book, that he's literally just like sex is the natural thing was unnatural is trying to abstain from sex. So I thought I was interested. I was like you do you Lewis, why not? So yeah, that was really interesting. And the point was saying that, which I didn't believe. I just think the Ambrosia was just a horrible person, but it's kind of saying as well, because he was isolated and kept away from everything and then put on this pedestal of perfection. He had so much further to fall and he fell so much further than most people.

Martha:

Yeah, and that is such a good point. And actually, like we said earlier, agnes says to him you will fall from this pedestal because you have judged me and you have no right to judge me like you are not God, and I think that he thinks he is some kind of God. So it's really interesting the way that that kind of plays out and I think it's quite clear this kind of taking a negative view of Catholicism in the way that that religion functions, because of the way it turns out at the end. And actually the most religious man I guess that they have in the book from who you think is gonna be the most religious from the after, is the one who ends up signing his soul away to the devil at the end, all for his own gain and selfish reasons.

Izzy:

Yes, yeah, the book is full of just like. So many twists and turns. It's really quite crazy. What's interesting, though, is if Matthew Lewis is coming from the stance that this is because I'm against the Catholic faith, because I'm Protestant and everything. There isn't an alternative Christian faith that he's like drawn to either. It's not like he's saying, oh, because I'm Protestant. It's like he's just drawn to atheism, like maybe he's just like not religious at all. That was the kind of vibe that I got, because it wasn't like he was saying, oh, it's because, actually, it's this other branch of Christianity that I'm drawn to it. Just for me, it was the sense that he was just against any type of faith or spirituality or anything like that.

Martha:

Yeah, no, I completely get that. It kind of seems like he's saying when you put faith above everything without actually having proper human morals and acting the way that you should for humanity, that's not acceptable. So he's saying that the people that are the most human in the book and make mistakes but kind of repent them and move on from them, like Raymond and Agnes and Lorenzo, they all get their happy ending because they're not using religion as an excuse for their behavior, whereas the nun who ends up being killed by the unalived, by the kind of mob in Madrid, alambrosia they both suffer because they've tried to kind of enforce this like strict code of morality that isn't actually based on how real life works.

Izzy:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely yeah, it's so. Yeah, it's so strange, like how it all comes about. And it's interesting that all of the guidance that comes from people is in a supernatural form, Like there's no emphasis that obviously, like the devil's showing up every five. Well, the Christian version of the devil is showing up every like five seconds, but there's no emphasis that God ever shows up. It's literally like you know what I mean. There's those two contrasts on there who shows up at these supernatural elements, and it's like ghosts and things. It's like spirits of your own ancestors show up to like guide the way, which I thought was really interesting as well. But it isn't like yeah, there wasn't like this set opposition to the devil, it was just like human nature and devil.

Martha:

Yeah, and that's a really interesting point I kind of showed when we focus too much on kind of well, I guess with the characters that were really religious, they were like well, in Catholicism that's the big thing, isn't it Around repenting, confessing and then being forgiven and then being able to carry on, and kind of what this book is showing is you can't just act however you want and then try and repent and be able to move on from that. The characters that kind of act in a good way throughout. They can move on from the challenges in their lives. But the ones who act in a way of evil and do things that are completely unacceptable but try and justify it to themselves, they're the ones that end up being punished in the end.

Izzy:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think what's really interesting as well. So how this appears in North Anger Abbey is initially, john Thorpe mentions it as a book that he's read, and also Isabella Thorpe says, once you finish your doleful, we'll read the monk, and they talk about how awful that the book like oh, is it really that terrible? And everything. And I think it's so interesting that the two characters that were North Anger Abbey who were promoting this book is Isabella and John Thorpe, like that's so fitting.

Martha:

Yeah, it is really fitting, because John Thorpe doesn't ask what Catherine wants or ask for her consent to go on a carriage ride. She just forces him into whatever he thinks is the right thing to do and it's really interesting that he is kind of promoting that book and also Isabella, who we know is a false character. She's not who she says she is and she doesn't act in a way that is true and honest. She is sneaky and she's also very focused on her reputation and who she can benefit from.

Izzy:

Yes, and she also. You know what I thought was weird, though I was like so interesting that she's read that book and she is most like Matilda, I would say, in this book. But then I'm also like why didn't she see that for what it was Like? Why didn't she see it and be like, oh gosh, like it doesn't work out for Matilda, she's not even like real, she's just like an accomplice of the devil, like why, well, I wanna do that. But genuinely like obviously they're characters and they don't learn like that. But the point is like I just think it's so interesting that it's those two that promote this book, because that makes so much sense. Right, that makes so much sense. I think the other books that Henry talks to Catherine about, the Radcliffe books, are not this dark. Like Mysteries of Yudolfo was not this dark at all. Yes, there was some crazy things that happened. Some people were unalived at some points, but it was not in this kind of detail. It was like some people would get into sword fights and accidentally die, whereas this was like this guy was actively out to unalive people, actively out to harm them and obviously assault them. It's just like really dark.

Martha:

Yeah, it was quite a different book to Yudolfo, because actually in Yudolfo it's gothic but actually nothing. I don't. From what I remember, I don't think anything actually turned out to be supernatural. It was all what humans have done and the main character thinks it's supernatural but actually it's not. It's all got an explanation. So these voices that they hear, that is a person, it's not a ghost. So it was really interesting that that one kind of has all these elements but actually it's people the whole way through and it's showing kind of like the wrong things that people do and this is showing that as well. But actually we have a big element of supernatural that does happen like we have witchcraft, we have the devil, we have ghosts and we have kind of those sorts of elements throughout the book. But I can't even imagine in like Catherine Moreland's age and reading this like I was finding it really difficult to read the last volume. And we're living in the 21st century, we're living in like a modern society where we know what sex and those relationships are. It was quite graphic and I can totally see why it was such a scandalous book at the time and as much as I obviously don't agree with the patriarchy kind of determining what young women should read. I can see why they didn't want young women reading this book, because it is very, very difficult and full of some really awful themes and scenes.

Izzy:

Yeah, it genuinely. I mean, did you find out whether or not this book was actually banned at some point? Because I'm even shocked it could even be in, like that, it could even be in publication, because it's really quite graphic and extreme. I didn't find out. Actually, I don't know either. I'm trying to find out here because I feel like that would just be like right up there, but it's not.

Martha:

It doesn't say but the author was only 19 when he wrote this, my gosh. So it kind of like rivals, kind of like Mary Shelley type thing, where they wrote it when they were really young. And I think his age kind of shows through in the sense that you can tell that he's kind of exploring ideas about what life is which is quite common at that age and that's very similar to kind of what Mary Shelley does in Frankenstein. She kind of is exploring the themes of like creation and like good versus evil, and it's kind of like they're coming to that age of life where they're meant to be adults now but they're still figuring things out. So I think that's a really interesting point, that they're quite young, like the author of this book is quite young.

Izzy:

Yes, do I find really weird, though, the title of the book is the Monk A Romance, and I don't understand that at all.

Martha:

No, it's a bit like we've. I've not read this yet but I probably will at some point because I found mysteries of Yiddalfo so entertaining. But like the Anne Radcliffe novel, like the Romance of the Forest which is mentioned in Emma, I think it's a book that Harriet's enjoyed and she mentioned it to Mr Martin and she's really disappointed when they bump into him and he hasn't read it yet and Emma's like what? He doesn't have time to read the Romance of the Forest. What is he doing? And it's like I'm sure that book is not actually romantic based on our modern concepts. So I think the Romance is romance with a capital R, which is that kind of like the romantic era.

Izzy:

Era, but it's a bit too early for that, like that's why.

Martha:

I was thinking.

Izzy:

I'm like this is so weird. What is he like? A pioneering romantic? I don't. I don't understand, like, unless it's like it's like looking at things from Ambrosia's point of view, that he thinks like do you know what I mean? Where he tries to justify is like I'm in love with these people, so it's fine. Like maybe it's like a commentary on romance where it's literally just like it's turned on its head, like so many other things are in this book.

Martha:

Yeah, or it could be kind of like the more traditional like view of like romance, like with some of the books that were written in like the medieval times, like Sir Gwyn in the Green Knight that's cast as a romance but actually it's a knight tackling a massive giant and it's not a very romantic book.

Izzy:

Okay, that's interesting. Maybe someone who's listening will know, like, why certain books are called romances when they're clearly not romances, and you'll have to learn it's very different.

Martha:

I'm quite a big romance reader by modern standards. It's a very different romance to the sorts of books I enjoy reading and it does not fall under a modern romance category. Yes, there is relationships in this book, but most of them are very dark.

Izzy:

Yes, absolutely. I kind of the last volume was disturbing, but the rest of the book and some of the aspects of the book and some of the supernatural elements I did find super interesting. I actually found it quite enjoyable read, apart from the last. I see the last few pages were probably the hardest, but the rest of the book I actually found really enjoyable and I thought what if it was interesting? I think Ambrosia was really messed up and I feel like, but what I did enjoy is Matilda's aspect. Even though Matilda was awful, I thought like what she brought to the book was really interesting.

Martha:

Yeah, she was such an interesting character and I feel like I found this. When I've read like kind of Austin's contemporaries and people that kind of come before that. Obviously I know I love Austin. I've read all her books countless times. With Udallful I was like, oh, I don't know if I'm going to enjoy this. And then I did, and the same with this. I was like, oh, I wonder how it will be. And it's a very readable book, apart from the poems which I did skip and the songs because I was like I'm not going to understand this and I'm not. I don't feel like it added from a lot of the reviews. It doesn't really add a lot. He's just kind of like sometimes the characters make a critique of the poem, but I think it was the first two volumes were really captivating and I guess the third one I really didn't enjoy, but at the same time that is because it made me really uncomfortable, which is clearly his aim. So it's a very well written book in a sense. That volume three was horrible to read and it did make me feel really uncomfortable, but that's the point. So it's doing what it sets out to do Really successfully.

Izzy:

That is so true. Yeah, exactly Like the author gets his aim, like what he wants us to feel when we read that is discomfort, like I think a lot of reviews state it as horror over Gothic as well, and I think that is actually more fitting. Like these things are actually terrifying, like they're not. They're not like creepy and like a fun, you know, watching a Tim Burton film in October. This is, like you know, actually dark, disturbing stuff, but also has the supernatural elements on top of it. But yeah, I did. I did really enjoy, like reading the book. I thought it was a good read and I think it's worth a read. I feel like I get so much more out of Norfanga Abbey the more books I read from Catherine Mullins reading list. Like I had that with Mysteries of Udolfo, especially that one, just because there were so many links to the plot of Norfanga in Udolfo. But this one, I feel like it makes me see more of Isabella and John Thorpe's character, because I'm literally just like, yes, this is the kind of thing they would read. They are just kind of left to do whatever they want and they kind of set out to be these like corrupt people. You know what I mean they never go out there with the best intentions, and so I can understand why this would be a book that they really into.

Martha:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think also it kind of reflects some other elements in Norfanga Abbey around when they have the conversation when Catherine's like something awful is coming out of London and what that is. It is a new Gothic novel and Isabella's not Isabella Eleanor's oh my God my brain then Eleanor's fears around rioting and those sorts of things, so kind of it plays in really nicely to kind of that political culture at the time and the arguments around Austin have changed a lot. But there used to be a kind of big field of thought like Austin isn't political but it is. It's so there in all of her books. It's just not in your face and if you're not familiar with the political landscape you wouldn't pick up on it.

Izzy:

Yes, that's so true, and the whole idea around reading at the time and women reading and I actually think it's actually so bold of Austin to even mention this book in that book and that it'd be like a young woman reading it and them chatting about it together. Because the whole there was like this whole kind of scandal about the fact that the people that went to book shops were young women, like they were trying to, they were devouring books, like fictional books, at a rapid pace and I actually think, even though, like in Austin's books, like we don't see like how much sex or anything, I feel like her even leaving this in there is like an emphasis that she's like she knows what's going on in the world, like she's not like blind to any of this. Yes, she doesn't state it specifically in her own books, but we always have like reference to like we see that with Lydia and Wickham, we see that with Frederick and Isabella Like there are hints of it and leaving stuff like this I feel like it's more of a signpost to it and Mansfield Park, which is her least romantic novel, has a lot of references to that, particularly with Mariah and Henry Crawford.

Martha:

Like she is then ruined and left to go and live with Aunt Laura, so which I can't think of anything worse, to be honest, than living with that woman.

Izzy:

Yeah, I actually felt more Mansfield Park. I felt the monks influence more on Mansfield Park than any of her book. When I was reading it I was like I don't know why, but it's really giving Mansfield Park vibes. I don't know whether it's that like that whole underlying like sexual desire, because I feel like that's really heavy in Mansfield Park where people, especially in the play scenes when they're all like going off into private corners to like practice and stuff and all the flirting and the fact that it's all done it's a small group of characters and it's all kind of done behind the scenes and the fact that underpinning that is these like religious characters, like Edmund's gonna go in the church and Fanny's really religious and stuff, and I feel like it's that crossover between like religion and you know the temptations of life, I suppose, and then people just being like really awful and corrupt, because I feel like that's blended in Mansfield Park, kind of similar to how it's blended in this with the two different storylines.

Martha:

Yeah, I think Mansfield Park is one of Austin's most interesting novels. When I first read it I was kind of expecting something more like Pride and Prejudice, which it isn't in any way. But now I've reread it more and more. As an adult I appreciate it so much more and there's just there's so much depth and it's such an interesting novel. And all of her books have social commentary on them, like North Angrabi has a big defense of the novel and women's reading and women's stories and that's a really powerful theme in that. But Mansfield Park has got so much turmoil under the surface and it's just such an interesting novel. I can see why people don't love it as much because it's not got the humor of Pride and Prejudice or like the yearning of persuasion, which are my two favourites.

Izzy:

But I think it is such an interesting novel with so much depth Agreed and I feel like as well that Austin says in that book and in like a lot of her books like you were mentioning this, those that she's saying even like women writers, we can discuss what's moral and immoral, we can discuss that conflict, and I feel like she does that in a lot in Mansfield Park and North Angrabi specifically. I feel like she says that like this is a conversation we can have as well. Yes, like Matthew Lewis has this in his book, but I love that Austin's like saying this is something I can explore as well. It's like you know an author, I can look into these topics as well. Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean that I can't explore these topics.

Martha:

Exactly, and it's so often that morality, the rules, were enforced on women and not men. Like Henry Crawford gets off really lightly in Mansfield Park. I think he's a fascinating character actually. I love any scenes with Henry. I think he's so interesting, but he gets away with so much more than any of the female characters do, and what he does isn't moral, what he's doing isn't okay, but because he's a man, he gets away with so much more than the female characters do?

Izzy:

Yeah, I think a lot of it as well is because he doesn't. He's technically single and so him going after Mariah is almost Mariah's choice At the end of the day. Does she choose to go off with Henry because she doesn't have to? And that's why I always get caught up in the whole like is Henry as bad as Mariah? Like I always get kind of caught there because I'm like, well, you know, I guess at the end of the day it was Mariah's choice. Like it's not. Like Henry forces her to go with him and she was married and settled and had her family, she had an out of her marriage and stuff. So for me I've always that's what I mean, though. Mansfield Park it's such a moral debate, it's so difficult and you can go back and forth on it. This you can't go back and forth. It's just wrong what goes on in this book. But I love that for Austin it is more nuanced. Like it isn't just as clear black and white. That's a bad person and this is a good person or this is just a normal person who just live in the life and doing stuff and you make mistakes, you move on, you carry on and you just live your life. Yeah, I love that in Austin's stuff it's like you can flip back and forth between what you think about character, like is this person moral, immoral, I don't know, it's difficult.

Martha:

Yeah, like her characters. I always feel like with her characters everything they do makes sense, even if you don't know the why at the time. Their characters never betray who they are Like. Her characterization is just so strong and everything they do makes sense for that character and it does mean that you really understand them when they are already human. And I think the most human character we get in the monk is probably Agnes, because she's the one who has sinned, but actually she's a good person. She suffers because of other people forcing their ideas of morality on her and actually in the end everything works out well for her. So there is kind of like that level of morality, that there is that estimation Like she may have been judged harshly by society but actually in the end everything turns out okay for her, whereas society should have been judging Ambrosia and they only did right at the end when his crimes got really, really bad.

Izzy:

Yes, so true, yeah, absolutely, it's just. But, yeah, crazy read. I would recommend it, as I would recommend Mystery's Reviewed Author. I'm gonna make cheat sheets, just like I did for Mystery's Reviewed Author as well, because I feel like it's just, it's handy if you don't want to read it, because they are quite dense books. So if you don't fancy reading them, then you can use the cheat sheets instead and you can see what you can pick up. And I'll add the North Anger Abbey quotes that mention it as well, so you can see how it links to that, of course, but this is so much fun. Is there anything else you wanna add before we wrap up, martha?

Martha:

No, I don't think so. Just if people are gonna read it, just make sure you check the content warnings. We have covered. I think all of them, but just in case it's useful to know.

Izzy:

Yeah, some parts are actually really difficult to read, so just bear that in mind if you are gonna pick it up. But yeah, that's everything from us today. Martha, do you wanna let people know where they can find you?

Martha:

Yes, so I'm on Instagram at Martha Bethan Reads and I post about lots of romance, but proper romance, not romance like the monk claims to be.

Izzy:

I love that yeah, absolutely. And also coming out this month will be filling off. So carrying on with spooky season Really excited about it. Like I said, my favorite month for the podcast is October because we have such fun episodes to do. But yeah, that's everything from us today and we will see you in another episode. ["pomp? And.

Martha:

Circumstance"].

Discussing "The Monk" by Matthew Lewis
Introduction to Ambrosia and the Characters
Ambrosio's Downfall and Matilda's Revelation
Themes of Witchcraft, Obsession, and Recognition
Strange Supernatural Elements in Gothic Novel
Supernatural Romance and Family Drama
Supernatural Elements and Dramatic Events
Dark Book's Disturbing Plot Twists
Underground Rescue and Disturbing Intentions
Dark and Disturbing Gothic Elements Discussion
Themes and Reactions to "The Monk"
Depth and Complexity of Mansfield Park