Catherine is introduced to Henry Tilney, a young clergyman who impresses Catherine with his wit and pleasant conversation. Catherine quickly falls for Henry, but after their first meeting she does not see him again for some time. Mrs. Allen runs into an old acquaintance, Mrs. Thorpe, and her three young daughters, including Isabella, who is slightly older than Catherine. Catherine and Isabella are soon best friends. Isabella, superficial and fond of gossip, inducts Catherine into the social world of Bath, with all its balls, dances, shows, fashion, and its gossip.
Just when Catherine and Isabella have settled into a close friendship, they are met with the arrival of James Morland, Catherine's brother, and John Thorpe, Isabella's brother. James and John are friends at Oxford University. Isabella wastes no time in flirting with James, and soon it is obvious to everyone except Catherine that James and Isabella are in love. Taking a cue from James, John tries to woo Catherine, asking her to be his dance partner. But at a ball, Catherine sees Henry Tilney again and is more interested in Henry than in John. John's bragging and his arrogant nature put off Catherine.