Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen




This is my first read for the Everything Austen Challenge. I picked it because it was Austen’s earliest major work and I had never read it before. It kind of gave me a glimpse of Austen’s earlier writing style and her perceptions of the times.


The heroine in this novel is Catherine Morland, who is just an average girl with straightforward manners and not an ounce of pretension; yet, she has an outrageously vivid imagination. This is cleverly and Austen-intended, I believe, to purposely deviate from the conventional heroines of the times.


The story begins with Catherine joining a friend of the family, Mrs. Allen, for a vacation at her home in Bath. Her days are filled with socializing, taking walks and especially spending time at the ‘Pump- room’, where she meets the rather hard-edged Henry Tilney. Catherine’s simple, yet direct and opinionated responses and approaches in conversation lead her to distancing Henry for a while.


Realizing that she has feelings for him, Catherine begins to wish she could see Henry again and does everything possible for that to happen. Meanwhile she befriends Isabella Thorpe who shares her passion for books and poetry. As the two become inseparable, Catherine feels close enough to Isabella to tell her all about her feelings for Henry Tilney…


In fulfilling her dreams of being with Henry, Catherine’s journey evolves through a fiasco of events revealing true personalities, feelings and deceptions. Other important characters that help bring this about involve John Thorpe, Isabella’s brother, who is full of mischief and schemes. As well, Catherine’s brother James, is one who has a love-story of his own to mourn over as his sister begins to put all pieces of the puzzle together. Just to add to life’s intricacies, Henry and Catherine become at odds about a dilemma, caused mainly by Catherine’s imagination. The couple’s difficulties do not stop there as problems get compounded by family misunderstandings.


Confusion of events? You bet. This story is filled with the ups-and downs of young love, anxious situations and very comical moments. Catherine was a girl before her times, which makes situations heartening as well as endearing and perfectly understandable. I gasped, laughed and truly enjoyed this Jane Austen novel. It’s the perfect introduction to the author’s subsequent masterpieces.

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16 comments:

Tea said...

Hi Lucy,

I love your review. I haven't read "Northanger's Abbey by Austen. You make me want to read it like now. I love coming here as always.

Myckyee said...

Great review! I haven't read this yet, but plan to.

Ana T. said...

This is such a fun story isn't it? I plan to reread it soon. :-)

okbolover said...

I haven't read this one by Austen...yet. I haven't read Persuasion either. Hmm guess I'll have to look this one up then. Good review Lucy! I love reading your posts :)

Dar said...

Great review Lucy. I haven't read this one yet but it is on my shelf. I'm still trying to decide which one to pick so maybe this will be it. Glad you enjoyed it.

Matterhorn said...

A great story and a lovely review. I love everything by Austen! Have you ever read the satirical history of England she wrote as a young girl? I think you'd enjoy it.

Heather Carroll said...

One of my favs! I'm in the middle of it now actually. The latest PBS masterpiece on it was so very good, you def have to check it out if you haven't seen it yet!

Cynthia L. H. said...

Wonderful review!
I love everything Austen! I enjoyed reading this book and have several times. The movie is fun, but not as good as the book. It's a nice way to relax, though.
I watch the movies so often they should be worn out!
;^)

Marie Burton said...

Fab review, Lucy :)
I cannot wait to read my first Austen, P&P, soon!! Your review of this made me reminiscent of my Heyer reads.. I miss them!! (*But NOT my Lord John!!)

MARIA GRAZIA said...

Good review! I love N.A.! I find Catherine Morland a very interesting anti-heroine, quite modern for that time. I usually read some pages from the novel with my students after introducing and reading some Gothic Novels. It is so interesting!I also love the last ITV adaptation. It's lovely. I too wrote about Catherine, as well as about her famous ancestor and heiress, in one of my posts on Fly High!
BTW I've just posted my first review for the EVERYTHING AUSTEN CHALLENGE but my reading of the completion of Sanditon was quite disappointing! Jane's original novels are unique, inimitable, unvaluable.
Ciao!MG

Ms. K @ Write On Thyme said...

Morning Lucy! I haven't read this one either but as usual, you make me want to.
Great review! How do you get through so many books!!??! I am in awe.
Kirsten

Jenny Girl said...

I'm so glad you liked this one! I recently re-read it myself and remembered why I liked it so much. There were times that I thought oh, no they won't get together.
Good review.

Sheila DeChantal said...

What a beautiful cover! Your review is so good and now I want to read it too! I am in on the Austen Challenge so I may be adding this to the group of reads. :)

Arleigh said...

This is the Austen novel I know the least about, so thanks for your summary. I can't think of an continuations for this one, but I'm sure they are out there. Old Friends and New Fancies has characters from all of the Austen novels though. I do need to read this!

celi.a said...

Great review! This Austen is pretty solid, so I'm glad you liked it. It will set you up for the type of settings and characterizations typical of the rest of Austen's works. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Michelle Magill said...

Nice review Lucy. I'm always surprised by Northanger Abbey. It seems so much more gothic than her other novels. She has separated her heroine from friends to make it that much more pricarious for Catherine. I wonder if there was any particular influence in her life at the time she wrote this one.