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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Northanger Abbey...Review

About the book:
Catherine Morland lives for much of her time in a fantasy world of romance and mystery based on the Gothic novels of her time, the early 1800s. But a stay in Northanger Abbey leads her into a series of misjudgments and a farewell to her Gothic world, only to be dealt a cruel blow in the real one.

This is one of my favorite Austen books. This is her earliest written book, and probably the least polished.

It's funny and light-hearted at times, but it's also serious when it comes to the subject of marriage. There are laugh-out loud moments and there are moments where you get so angry at particular characters that you wish you could wring some necks! There are also moments in this book when Jane Austen is downright snarky. Her satire is sharp and funny. This is a book that involves the reader completely. I found myself underlining paragraphs and passages. One of my favorite quotes comes from Henry Tilney in a conversation with Catherine about reading: "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not the pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." I laughed when I read that! I agree!

Another fun passage was her narration about fashion: "It would be mortifying to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little the heart of man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire; how little it is biased by the texture of their muslin, and how insusceptible of peculiar tenderness towards the spotted, the sprigged, the mull, or the jackonet. Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter. But not one of these grave reflections troubled the tranquillity of Catherine."

A definite must read for any and all who proclaim themselves lovers of Jane Austen.

Personal copy last read 1/08

* * * *
4/5 Stars


  1. This is actually my favorite Austen book. Very funny, indeed. I love how she satirizes the popular gothic novels of her time.

    Have you been watching the Jane Austen movies on PBS? LOVE 'em.

  2. I'm actually glad to finally see a positive review of this book. I've seen it trashed in so many other places, I didn't know what to think. I struggle a little reading Austen -- the language is hard for me to wrap my brain around -- but I've seen movies of all her novels and really enjoy them. This one, however, I found a little odd. Have you seen it?

  3. I have seen the 2007 BBC version of this novel. I thought it was well done and simply delightful. I think it's different from the others, because this novel is so different from the other novels. This novel is silly and snarky and satiric. Jane's narration throughout is so tongue in cheek at times that I just laughed out loud at times as I read it.

    I thought the casting for this film was great: John Thorpe was appropriately rude, and Henry Tilney was charming and teasing. I thought the girl who played Catherine was bit young, but she seemed to pull if off ok. As always, the writers take liberties, but I thought they did a good job of translating the novel to the screen. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this little romp.

  4. ummmm. Your right. I need to read it again.

  5. This is the one Austen book I haven't read. I've heard so many different things about it and I've never taken the time to read it, although I own it. I look forward to reading it. I found you through the winter reading challenge.

  6. This is my second favorite Austen (behind the obvious P&P). It's probably because it is light and funny and I can relate to the silly girls.