Thursday, April 5, 2018

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen
Published 1817
The Classics Club II

Yay! This was my last Austen novel. From now on, whenever I read Jane Austen, I will only be rereading her works, which means they will only get better. 

Northanger Abbey had a very interesting and intriguing beginning. Young Catherine had wild ideas about the world because of her book reading -- you understand how that is -- and when an older couple of friends invited her to Bath, her adventures began.

She soon met wealthy prince charming, Henry Tilney, and social butterfly, Isabella Thorpe. She spent much of her time with Isabella discussing gothic novels, gossiping about Henry Tilney, and dancing at balls. Later, Catherine became acquainted with Henry's sweet sister, Eleanor, and they developed a special friendship.

Catherine & Isabella

Meanwhile, Isabella liked Catherine's brother, James, who was also friends with Isabella's annoying brother, John. John and Isabella manipulated naive Catherine into double dates for the four of them, while interfering in her friendships with Henry and Eleanor.

Catherine later met Henry and Eleanor's older brother, Captain Tilney, and their father, General Tilney, who liked Catherine very much and invited her to stay with them at Northanger Abbey when they left Bath. Because of her infatuation with Gothic novels, Catherine was ecstatic about staying at the Abbey, and she soon began exploring or being nosey. She also had some preconceived notions concerning personal family business, which caught her in an embarrassing situation with Henry.



Then something absolutely terrible and unexpected happened, or at least I did not see it coming. It seemed like poor Catherine was too foolish and ignorant of the world, and she would continue to be tossed around, taken advantage of, or always in the dark. When would she wise up? 

Yet, even after her unfortunate treatment, she maintained an optimistic attitude. 

And good thing this was a Jane Austen novel because Catherine was not left to society's unfair edicts. Things would turn out well in her favor after all. 


Personally Speaking

Some of the characters in this novel were outrageous, and I had a difficult time liking them; but that was to be expected because in time they were exposed to be ill-mannered and self-centered. 

Nonetheless, even Henry was a challenge to like because he was mysterious. But overall, Catherine was a sweet, gentle creature who thought everyone had a transparent heart like her own. Fortunately for Catherine, her naïveté would not ruin her opportunity for happiness.

Northanger Abbey has a heavy gothic feel, which was intended. Towards the end of the story it felt like it could have used more substance, but it was not a major issue for me.

Is this book for you?

If you are in the business of reading Jane Austen's novels, don't pass on this one. You would miss her happy, humorous, charming ideas and delightful language.


Hamlette (Rachel) said...

I'm re-reading this right now, and teaching it to my 15-yr-old niece for our high school lit course. It's her first Austen, and I was a little hesitant to choose it because it's not Austen's best. But it's her shortest and lightest, and my niece doesn't read quickly. We also haven't read anything together before this that was written before the 20th century, so I didn't want her to get too daunted. Also, I referenced Northanger Abbey in certain ways in my book Cloaked, which she's read, so I thought it would be fun for her to try to find similarities between the two.

But also, I just hadn't read this for years and it's so doggone fun I wanted the pleasure of reading it again myself. The margins of my copy are filling up with smiley faces and hearts and exclamations of laughter. I also keep writing "eye roll" next to things the Thorpes say...

Ruth said...

This is excellent for a first Austen. It's not to heavy and has a slightly mysterious air to it. It is giddy and silly, and short and sweet, too. Perfect. I hope it interests your niece to read more Austen.

Oh, yeah, those Thorpes are over the top, as only Austen could create them.

Paula Vince said...

I really enjoy Northanger Abbey too. It's a great picture of the social life of Bath in the Regency era and wonderful to know that it's accurate, because JA was there. Catherine is a really sweet heroine too. I'm sure the readers of the time would have enjoyed the dig Austen was having about the Gothic novels.

Ruth said...

She (Austen) was so witty and clever. That last book I read about Jane Austen and Her World spoke a lot about the novel, and how it was important for her to be realistic about everything. It was really fascinating.

Sharon Wilfong said...

This is not my favorite Austin, although it is not without merit. I think she shows how women were really at the mercy of being introduced into society or being confined to the house, which I would find depressing. There are supposed to be a lot of references to a particular Gothic novel that was popular back then and contemporary readers would recognize the satire.

Ruth said...

Yes, the gothic novel was The Mysteries of Udolpho. I've not read it myself.

Anonymous said...

I like Northanger Abbey. I find Henry charming, instead of mysterious. He might seem mysterious because he doesn't always know how to read Catherine or how to respond to her, so he's guarded. She's so innocent about people and society. Like you said in your review she assumes everyone is plain-spoken like her and has an open heart. Eventually Henry learns who she is and even likes how she doesn't engage in double-speak, like her friends, the Thorpes.

Ruth said...

On second thought, Henry is very charming. I agree. :)