Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Club Friday: 'Northanger Abbey' by Jane Austen

Blog note: see this post if you want to enter to win a copy of Wendy Owens' YA paranormal The Guardians Crown

Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary from GoodreadsA wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s “Gothic parody.” Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.

Executed with high-spirited gusto, Northanger Abbey is the most lighthearted of Jane Austen’s novels, yet at its core this delightful novel is a serious, unsentimental commentary on love and marriage.

My Review: Because this book isn't quite as well-known as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, I wasn't sure what kind of quality to expect from the writing. I found this book to be a delightful surprise.

Catherine Morland is a delightful heroine, letting her preoccupation with Gothic novels run away with her (an accurate literary depiction of early 19th century fangirling) and slowly developing feelings for Henry Tilney. (I want an adaptation in which Henry Tilney is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Please, Hollywood?)

These are subtle reading pleasures, but pleasures nonetheless. The ending's a little abrupt; it would have been nice to know more about the man Eleanor married, who seems to come out of nowhere. And what about James - did he end up happily married?

Still, I think more people should read it. More people would read it, possibly, if it had a more interesting title; I suggest I'm Sorry I Thought Your Father Murdered Your Mother.

You can get the e-book free on Amazon:

I bought a paperback of Northanger Abbey, well used, at a library book sale for 25 cents. This is an unsolicited review, and I was not compensated for it in any way. Because of its well-worn condition and torn pages, my copy is now resigned to the recycling bin.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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Reading and reviewing for a review exchange with the author
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Shoshanah said...

I can't believe I'm about to admit this, but I've never read a Jane Austen book. Which is sad because I'm sure I'd love them. Someday...

And I can't wait to see what you think of Princesses Behaving Badly. I've been really wanting to read it, and hope when I do it lives up to my expectations.

Erin O'Riordan said...

After I finished the book, I read somewhere that people say if you're going to read Jane Austen, 'Northanger Abbey' is a good one to start with.

Stay tuned for a 'Princesses Behaving Badly' review.