Genres: Classic, Romance
The Short, Sweet, and Spoiler-Free Blurb:
A 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.
Northerner Abbey might be my favorite Jane Austen novel. One of the main reasons is because Catherine is my new favorite heroine. She’s a tom boy and she treats her life like it’s a fictional novel. Catherine is the kind of person that would yell “plot twist!” at an unfortunate event in her life. I aspire to be this way. It’s the kind of attitude I try to have when, say, I go to the ER because I’ve been awake and in pain and on Google and have convinced myself that I have appendicitis when all I really have is severe constipation and get sent home from the ER with a laxative. Again. See, in a novel that’s freakin’ hilarious. In real life it sucks paying $200 for a laxative. Catherine has quite the imagination and I want to be her in every way.
Also, could someone explain to me how Jane Austen can just tell her stories and backgrounds in an info-dumping way but keep my attention completely because she makes it fun and visual and easy to imagine? Jane Austen has this biting honesty that is delightful to read even though her books are old. Don’t dismiss Jane Austen. She writes the truth. Don’t tell me you’ve never met a person like this:
Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them.
– Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (p. 7)
And I love, love, love the two ladies who are constantly talking at each other but never have an actual conversation because one talks about her kids and one talks about clothes. Jane Austen doesn’t really show many of these conversations but I can totally imagine them. As much as Catherine is living in a fictional novel, her friend Isabella is overdramatic because she’s got the lead role in this play called life. Isabella is clingy and scheming. I think Jane Austen didn’t mind scheming but I think she hated it when it was obvious. Jane Austen is the queen of sarcasm, irony and relatable characters.
Book shaming has been around since the 1800s and Jane Austen is having none of it. Catherine loves reading novels but is also ashamed that she reads “only novels.” Jane Austen has this to say about mere novels:
… in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed …
-Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (p. 23).
Overall, I loved this novel and if you haven’t read it, fix that immediately.
Content Rating: None. Clean read.
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