Tuesday, March 29, 2011

REVIEW - Northanger Abbey

Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not my favorite work of Jane Austen. But, it does have it's own merits.

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

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.

Catherine Morland is a woman with little to recommend her. She is passably pretty, not wealthy and not accomplished. She does have a good heart, which is her most recommending feature. But as a woman with little prospects she journeys to Bath with Mr and Mrs Allen and there becomes unwittingly an object of admiration.

She has Mr. Tilney and Mr. Thorpe to deal with. One's attentions she does not desire, and the other's she desires very much. The trick is to not hurt Mr. Thorpes feelings and seek the attention of Mr. Tilney. She makes the acquaintance and friendship of both men's sister's.  She bonds with and develops deep friendships with both within a short period of time.

I was amused with the voice of Jane Austen. She narrates the tale and speaks often to the reader. I was very interested in a passage where she decries the criticism of novels. I have been searching my hard copy of the book and I am having a hard time locating it (I should have marked it). I find it interesting that the intellectuals frowned upon the casual reading of novels. They were considered beneath the notice of the educated, while Austen was in effect a novelist. It is very interesting to me how her novels have withstood the test of time and are celebrated in this time period. I noticed that the manuscript for Northanger Abbey was sold to a London publisher in 1806, but was not published until after Austen's death in 1818.

Once again, Austen has proven to be the Queen of Banter in my eyes. I love her witty writing and wondered how much fun she must have had writing the scenes between her heroes and heroines.

I own a couple of copies of this book and read my kindle edition.  I read this book to complete on of the books on my Book Bucket Challenge it also completes something old for Lazy Girl Reads mini challenge.

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