That evening at the theater, Catherine nods pleasantly across the room to Isabella, while also looking for Mr. Tilney. She looks for him again the next day, which the Thorpes and Allens spend together, but sees him nowhere. Isabella encourages Catherine, saying she is sure Mr. Tilney likes Catherine and will return to Bath. With a loaded sigh, Isabella also confesses to also liking clergymen very much, but the inexperienced Catherine does not ask what about this profession makes Isabella seem so wistful.
Catherine grew up in a very straight-talking family. Just as she struggled to understand when Mr. Tilney was joking during their first conversation, she now fails to take the hint Isabella drops about who Isabella loves. Meanwhile, she is glad to receive Isabella’s opinion on her prospects of seeing Mr. Tilney again, not realizing that Isabella may be flattering her.
Daily, Mrs. Allen exclaims how happy she is to have met Mrs. Thorpe in Bath so that they have some acquaintance. She and Mrs. Thorpe spend all their time together, although when they are together Mrs. Allen talks only of her clothing while Mrs. Thorpe talks only of her children. Catherine and Isabella quickly become the best of friends, calling each other by their Christian names, spending all their time together in fair weather, and staying in to read novels together when it rains.
The fact that Catherine and Isabella call one another by their first names so quickly would have set off warning bells in the heads of readers of Austen’s time. Among proper gentlemen and gentlewomen, this form of address was generally reserved for family and lifelong friends of the family. The innocent Catherine is guided by those around her and does not think that this rush toward intimacy might suggest that Isabella wants something out of their relationship.
Although many novelists do not portray their heroines as novel-readers, the Narrator explains, this is unjust. Writers of novels should stick together, since they are so often attacked in the press, and one way to do this is to portray their characters as readers of novels. Reviewers often treat all novels as trash, despite the pleasure these books provide readers. Acclaim is given to people who write books like the abridged History of England, which has been written hundreds of times already, but not to novelists. People deny that they read novels and readers of novels are ashamed to admit that they read them.
The narrator points to the hypocrisy of many who profess to despise novels, including novelists who write characters who despise novels, indicating that it is a sign of sincerity to admit to finding these books entertaining. To pretend to be too good for novels is a misguided attempt to seem to belong to a class of serious people without time for the emotions explored in these works.