Saturday, 3 December 2011

Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Published December 1817
256 pages
Genre: Classic Romance
Stars: 5/5


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.

Well, this book is slightly unpolished and probably would have benefited from a couple more rewrites (particularly the narration at the ending) but in terms of characters, plot and wit? It was absolutely perfect! 

I really enjoyed the narrator for the most part. I liked the little snippets of opinion she put in every so often- it's so unusual for the reader to actually be addressed by the narrator- and I thought it worked well for the majority of the book. I felt she got a bit out of hand towards the very end and would have preferred more dialogue as opposed to a general report of how it ended up but for the rest of the book, the narrator was really quite excellent! Catherine's character really grows throughout the whole book and is developed so well. So many things happen that make her realize the world isn't as black and white as she thought and that people can be deceiving. She learns that the real world does not work like it does in fiction! 

Most of all though, it was just funny! It's so light-hearted and full of wit. I especially loved Mr Tilney's story of what would happen to a typical Gothic novel character at the time and everything that Catherine did after that. The whole novel was very witty and it had me smiling throughout. 

This is the third Jane Austen novel I have read and I liked it every bit as much as I liked Pride and Prejudice. 

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