by Jane Austen
Catherine Morland, at seventeen, has a fondness for novels and an overactive imagination. When she accompanies her friends Mr. and Mrs. Allen to visit Bath, she fears that her visit will be dull, because she hasn’t any acquaintances. However, she soon befriends Isabella Thorpe, and life becomes much more interesting. As Isabella falls for Catherine’s brother, her brother John Thorpe pursues Catherine, but he is far too rude and slovenly for her tastes. Instead, Catherine swoons for Mr. Henry Tilney. When she is invited to visit Mr. Tilney and his sister at their estate, Northanger Abbey, Catherine soon finds herself embroiled in a gothic tale as rich as any in the novels she so enjoys…or not. As stated, Catherine has a very overactive imagination, and she’s also extremely naïve. This combination constantly sets the poor girl stumbling from one misunderstanding to the next when she is unleashed on the world in this charming coming of age story.
Jane Austen is one of those authors that people seem to love or hate, and I fall pretty firmly into the first category. This was my first time reading Northanger Abbey, and I was delighted with it. It’s a great parody of the gothic novels that were popular at the time Austen wrote the book, but to me it is a small leap from those gothic novels to the “paranormal romances” that are so in vogue with teenagers today – so I find Austen’s humor quite relevant.
This was one of Jane Austen’s first novels, but it wasn’t published until after her death. Compared to her later novels like Pride and Prejudice, the humor’s a little snarkier and is certainly laid on thicker, and the characters aren’t as well-developed. Catherine is a bit of a bubblehead, but she’s surrounded by people even sillier, and unlike her friends she actually matures a bit by the end of the book. But it’s a lot of fun, especially if you’ve read books like The Monk and The Mysteries of Udolpho….or even Frankenstein or Jane Eyre! It’s certainly been one of my favorite reads this year.
5 out of 5 stars
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